To be recited in alternating voice by the High Priestess (HPS)
and High Priest (HP)
All things come from Egypt.
There are many stories from Ancient Egypt. Perhaps you have heard
some? There are many others. Allow me to share a story from a long
time ago. From the beginning, there was the hiddenness and formlessness of the darkening chaos. The waters rose and then they fell. Left behind in the Valley of the Nile, was fertile earth.
It was 12,000 years ago when the great Ice Age came to an end.
Water was freed to rain upon the good earth and bring life to the
land. Migrating peoples would travel north and south with the
seasons. While the men were out chasing large animals, the women
would gather. They picked the best of the fruits and grains. What
they discarded at their camps remained fertile and grew again. And
in this way, early women performed a kind of natural selection.
Better plants meant better harvests. Migration became less
necessary. Settlements grew. Wanderers became farmers. It was the
Time of the Goddess. The Great Mother gave, took away, and gave
again. We have many stories from Mesopotamia. Perhaps you have
heard tell of Inanna? The same was going on in the Land of Egypt.
The Goddess reigned. This was long before the dawn of writing, the ancient hieroglyphics, or the Pharaohs.
The Goddess represents the life-giving aspect of the sun that
brings light and warmth and fertility. She was sometimes seen as a
slender woman wearing a headdress of a sundisk supported by two
horns. One of her aspects was that of Hathor, the gentle horned Cow of Heaven, provider of the milk of life and the provider of eternal sustenance. Thus, the horns on the headdress.
Hathor's more esoteric attributes were about emotions, and the gift of shape-shifting. When angered, Hathor would morph into Sehkmet, the Lioness Goddess. Sehkmet represents the scorching, burning, destructive heat of the sun. Sehkmet is a fierce goddess and a destroyer of her enemies. She wears the same headdress as Hathor.
Hathor was protectress of all women, and sovereign of merriment and song. With the rattling of her favored musical instrument, the
sistrum, she drove away the evil spirits, while the people reveled
in her Temple of Enjoyment, with dancing and leaping.
At her most renowned temple, at Dendera along the Nile in Upper
Egypt, the new year, her birthday, was rung in with carnival-like
rejoicing under columns sculptured in the form of giant sistrums.
In these celebrations, all partook copiously of the red-barley beer to remember the time of Sehkmet's Great Wrath and her saving of the world.
Hathor's cult was unusual in that both women and men were her
priests. Later, after Upper and Lower Egypt were brought together,
she became known in additional aspects. Among these were the
falcon, the hippopotamus, and the cobra.
More about Sehkmet's Great Wrath: in spite of all the joy,
abundance, and mirth going on, there were still demons about. They
are always about, back then just as now, scaly, hissing things that wish harm to all. These demons would lurk in the mountains to the West above the Nile Valley.
Long ago, the Sahara was a prairie before the Earth dried,
rendering it a desert. It was to here that the rebellious Second
Son's were banished for misbehavior and for conspiring with these
lesser demons. Once each year during the winter months, they would
make trouble. Hathor would morph into Sehkmet, go out and kick ass, and set things right. Then followed that great celebration at
Dendra. The redbarley beer flowed, and all was again right in the
world. And so went live for centuries.
And then came Narmer. Banished to the Western Prairie, he was far
cleverer than the average dissident. And he went looking for a
demon as clever as he. And so he found the surliest of demons who
would be -- a God. They all gathered in the mountains above the
Nile. The demon promised to make Narmer head of a line of Kings to
be remembered for all time. If only Narmer and the dissident males
would raise this demon up, worship him as the Sun God, and push out the Great Mother.
All winter long they plotted. How shall we make things turn out
different this time? "When Sehkmet comes looking for us in the
spring, we will be ready with barrels and barrels of red-barley
And when Sehkmet came and saw all the red beer flowing, she
exclaimed, "Did I miss the party? Have I missed all the fun?" And
Sehkmet dove into the flowing beer. She drank and drank. For she
did love her beer, and she did love to party. And she got very
drunk and finally passed out.
Sehkmet slept for a very long time. And when she awoke, she had
such a hangover. And when she got back to Dendera, she found Narmer calling himself king, a Pharaoh. On her throne sat the demon calling himself Ra, the new Sun God. Lower Egypt had been joined to Upper Egypt, and all her people were now his subjects.
What to do? A battle among the gods would destroy all humanity. So the Goddess withdrew. But she resolved to remain in the aspect of
Sehkmet until all was again right in the world. No more Mrs Nice
Meanwhile, the ancient stories were retold to say that it was
always Ra who was the Sun God. The Pharaoh is his son and Narmer is the first Pharaoh. The Pharaohs would sit upon the throne of Ra for thousands of years. They even said that Sehkmet was the wife of Ra, that she would do his bidding, and that, if not controlled, the Goddess would destroy the world.
Sehkmet chose to remain aloof but is still present. She continued
to be the protectress of all women, and the sovereign of merriment. The sistrum is still her favored musical instrument, and its rattling still drives away evil spirits.
There are some who would have you believe that other main-stream
story of Sehkmet in which she was such a problem. Years later, there emerged another form of the Great Goddess, Isis, and she wears a headdress of a sundisk supported by horns. Sometimes her headdress is the throne of Egypt. She is the patron of nature and magic. She is the friend of slaves, and artisans, and the downtrodden. She has a very nurturing relationship with her son, an idea that was later picked up by yet another religion.
There are others who would have us believe that the world began
just 6000 years ago, back when males were already in control. Believe whatever stories you like, but, just remember, it is as the Greeks say, "All things come from Egypt."