Prayer to Sekhmet for the Vulnerable

The following is a litany to Sekhmet that I wrote for use during this time of COVID-19. It focuses on protecting those who are especially vulnerable. It is not an exhaustive list, and I am open to suggestions for groups to add.

Refrain after each verse:
Sekhmet the Great, be with us now;
save us from danger, watch over us all!

Sekhmet the Great, Mother of All,
Whose Majesty is pacified after Her rage;
be peaceful, be gracious to us, Your children
in this, Your name of Pacified One.

Watch over those who are suffering sickness,
those struggling to find their way back to health;
drive out their illness and chase death away
in this, Your name of Lady of Life.

Watch over the medically vulnerable,
those at greatest risk of sickness or death;
block the path of any disease, and keep them from harm
in this, Your name of Protector.

Watch over those who are pregnant,
whose bodies are working to support two lives;
let them have enough to live and keep illness at bay
in This, Your name of Mighty-Hearted.

Watch over the very young,
those whose bodies have not yet built their defenses;
protect them as Your own children
in this, Your name of Who Protects Her Son.

Watch over the elderly ones,
those whose lifetimes have worn down their defenses;
protect them as Your own family
in this, Your name of Who Protects Her Father.

Watch over the mentally ill,
those who suffer most deeply from isolation and fear;
comfort them and fill them with Your light
in this, Your name of Who Illuminates the Two Lands.

Watch over the victims of violence,
those quarantined with abusers of any kind;
let them know safety and protect them from danger
in this, Your name of Devouring Flame.

Watch over the queer and trans people,
those for whom prejudice raises barriers to effective care;
let them find compassion when needed and let them stay well
in this, Your name of Lady of Kindness.

Watch over the undocumented and the migrants,
those who travel and those without the support of their homeland;
let them receive kindness and the resources they need
in this, Your name of Who Keeps the Two Lands Alive.

Watch over those incarcerated,
those who deserve dignity, as members of humanity;
let them know peace and mercy
in this, Your name of Who Hears Prayers.

Watch over the Indigenous peoples,
those marginalized by colonizers in any land;
grant them safety and the resources to thrive
in this, Your name of Great Noble One.

Watch over the un- and underemployed,
those financially strained by loss of work;
grant them prosperity and keep them stable
in this, Your name of Golden One.

Watch over the sex-workers,
those whose work brings them into intimate closeness;
bring them stability, safety, and freedom of choice
in this, Your name of Beautiful, Magnificent One.

Watch over the doctors, nurses, and all medical personnel,
those fighting against disease, to keep us safe;
keep them strong and free from illness
in this, Your name of Who Wards Off Evil.

Watch over the farmers, grocers, and food-service workers,
those tasked with keeping the people fed;
protect them from disease and from fearful, ill-tempered patrons
in this, Your name of Lady of Nourishment.

Watch over those whose work is deemed essential,
in retail, in law, in public service;
help them keep order and keep them healthy
in this, Your name of Who Destroys the Riot.

Sekhmet the Great, Lady of Jubilation,
be with me and all those I love.
Walk with us until we are safe again,
and bless us in Your many names.

Prayer to Sekhmet against COVID-19

O Sekhmet, Eye of Ra,
Powerful Flame,
Protectress of those whom She created,
O Sekhmet Who lights up the land with Her flame,
Who gives life to everyone:
Come, Sekhmet! Free us!
Save us from the misfortunes of this time.
May they never have power over us, forever.

Powerful One of Fire,
Who makes the virus tremble with fear of Her,
Come to us! Stop all calamity!
May our beginning be life, our middle be health, and our end be strength.
May there be cooperation between us.
May there be protection against all our enemies, living or dead.
Appease in our favor the Great Nine;
Appease in our favor the Lesser Nine;
Appease in our favor all the blessed dead,
as Ra is agreeable to His following,
in this time of our need.

O Pure Mother,
grant that all of the peoples of our world,
the generations we know and generations still to come,
be pure of all evil contamination,
of all bad winds,
and all bad journeys for this time.

Rev. Dr. Tamara L. Siuda, March 20, 2020

Hello again.

It’s been almost a year since I last wrote here.

I want to start making excuses — to write about all of the upheaval in my personal and professional life, explain what’s kept me focused on other things, and try to transform it into some useful metaphor for devotion to the gods or other spiritual practice. It’s not going to work. What has kept me away from this blog (and distanced me from my devotions) has been a combination of professional burn-out and a depressive episode that crept up on me in spite of my attempts at vigilance. The burn-out has been abating due to a new job that is more fulfilling, and the depressive episode… well, I’m hesitant to say too much and risk jinxing it, but things finally seem to be moving in a good direction.

I won’t commit to writing here more often. What I will commit to is re-invigorating my religious practices, which dwindled to the barest necessity over the past several months. With any luck (for this website, anyway) that will be enough to re-invigorate my blogging practices. Wish me luck?

I found ma’at between my couch cushions.

My ma’at feather necklace had been missing for a few weeks. I couldn’t quite recall where I had taken it off; normally I would have laid it on the nightstand with my wedding ring, after taking off my jewelry for the day. At some point I had deviated from the norm, and it was missing. I muddled through in spite of its disappearance.

I didn’t have much time to think about it. I worked 10 days without a break, sometimes 18 hours a day. I pushed myself into socializing, into taking on responsibilities, into sneaking into my work email to check on things even when I was supposed to be relaxing. I pushed and pushed myself. I spent my one day off doing chores and cleaning, and I hurt my back cleaning the cat litter. I kept working. I kept pushing.

I had fallen into a pattern of neglecting my own needs. It went beyond trampling my own boundaries at work — I wasn’t eating well, I wasn’t sleeping well, I wasn’t giving myself the space to breathe in my daily life.

Finally, on a Sunday, I caught a cold. Just a cold, complete with runny nose, scratchy throat, and fatigue. I worked Monday, and pushed through feeling run-down and crummy. That night I fought with myself. Would I push through and go to work, or would I pull back, rest, and allow myself to do better the rest of the week? Finally, I put my own foot down. I would rest.

On my sick day, I was fluffing the couch cushions to prepare for some extra-strength Doing Absolutely Nothing when something caught my eye between the cushions — a silver chain. I picked it up and there it was — my ma’at feather.

All at once the symbolism of the moment struck me. This was my life. My priorities were all mixed up. I was working too hard and ignoring my needs. My self-care was in the toilet, and ma’at was shoved in between the couch cushions. Pulling my life back into ma’at by taking care of myself allowed me to pull my pendant back out from hiding.

This is my new commitment: to focus back in on what is important and necessary to live according to ma’at. To balance my work–which very much feeds my heart and soul, but is also emotionally draining–with my religious practice and social needs, but also with basic self-care: making time to eat right, sleep well, and care for my physical and mental health.

How not to demand answers.

Photo by Wyron A on Unsplash

A question was posed to me by a good friend of mine. He’s Catholic, so his religion does not condone the use of divination, and he asked me how I resist the temptation to turn to divination constantly for answers — which is a darn good question!

I think everyone comes to their own understanding of their boundaries with divination. I hardly ever use divination for myself, as the result of an agreement between me and my gods; but plenty of others consult it regularly for their own guidance. The thing I’ve noticed is that most people who use divination regularly aren’t looking for concrete answers. They aren’t asking questions like, “Will I get a job this month?” or “Should I invest my money in the stock market?” They’re asking things like, “Will this job be a good fit for me?” or “What changes do I need to make to achieve success?”

The prevailing opinion that I’ve encountered is that divination isn’t capable of providing concrete answers, so turning to divination for everything would be meaningless. Even fedw, which offers yes/no responses, doesn’t give definite answers — only a glimpse at what may be if all things remain as they are currently. The future is too malleable, under the influence of the consequences of our actions and those of others. What is the point of asking for constant reassurance if the answers could change soon anyway?

Divination is also not something that passively provides answers. Most diviners I know find that things get funky after a while. Maybe they start getting meaningless answers. Maybe there’s a reading that means “knock it off”. Either way — many say that it is nearly impossible to chain reading after reading without getting garbled answers.

In my own experience divination simply fails if I get too persistent, so perhaps my experience isn’t very informative here. How do you all resist the temptation to constantly seek divination for reassurance?