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.
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.
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?
Once again the year has reached its end and then its beginning, and I am returning from the House of Netjer’s annual Wep Ronpet Retreat. This year was different. Rather than being held near the House’s temple building in Illinois, the retreat was held in Portland — Oregon, not Maine, as I found I would have to clarify multiple times when talking with family and friends.
I was worried that holding our celebrations outside of a formal temple environment would diminish them, somehow. Instead, I found that it reinvigorated them. First: the Kennedy School, where we held our celebrations, was absolutely delightful. The accommodations were well-furnished and pleasant, the conference spaces were comfortable and beautiful, and the staff were respectful and even curious about our activities. In past years, we were asked to make our own arrangements for dining. This year we were served multiple meals and ate together as a group, sharing breakfast and having comfortable, easy conversation in the bright light filtering through the windows. The room where we held our pre-Retreat priests’ meeting was furnished with soft couches for everyone, for goodness’ sake!
More to the point — the gods and ancestors were present. From the moment we opened with amulet-making to the dawn rites of New Year’s morning, They made Themselves known. Sekhmet was present in Saq at Her ceremony — made even more special because it is Her year. The gods were pleased with our morning celebrations, with Ra appearing and blessing our rites. And the Ordeal of Weshem-ib went smoothly, bringing four more children of Netjer into the order of the Shemsu-Ankh.
Change is good, it would seem. And also inevitable. Change is part of being human, being mortal. Even the gods Themselves have been known to change, temporarily and permanently. I am looking forward to sharing some changes here, and making changes in my personal life and religious life. It will be good.
There’s a new deity on my shrine as of Tuesday: Nebt-het, the sister of Aset and mother of Yinepu, one of the mourning women of Wesir, comforter of the dead and the mourning.
She has been an incredible teacher in my life as I learn to sit with the deep pain and trauma many clients carry with them, and I feel honored that She offered to become a permanent presence in my life. Dua Nebt-het!
This is a choice. We may be called by the gods to serve Them, but worshipping Them together is a choice – and it is an important one. This religion exists because we choose it again and again, day after day. If we intend for what we are doing to last, we need to be conscious of this and keep choosing it, each and every day.