"Sekhmet the Eye of Ra"/ November 2014

"Sekhmet the Eye of Ra"/ November 2014
"Sekhmet the Eye of Ra"/ November 2014 / Extra fine watercolor, 22 karat gold, lapis lazuli, Austrian crystal

Friday, October 9, 2015

Photo Essay: The Sacred West Triptych (Part 2)

The completed under drawing of "Auset-Weret-Hekauw" (Isis Who is Great of Magic or Enchantments)~ An original Kemetic icon by master iconographer Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa/ with finished bas-reliefs prepared for gilding with 22k gold leaf / Panel 3 of The Sacred West Triptych

Great Mother Auset, I receive the milk of Your heavenly breast;
The grace of the Sun reborn in the East,
The doors of heaven thrown open
For the passage of my feet.
I am Your son, O Goddess of the Gods,
Mother of the Hawk Who encircles
The two horizons.

I am suckled by You, reared through
Your greatness, as was the Lord of the Sky
When He appeared with dappled plumage
From Your womb.

I take the magic of Your breast,
Nurse from the enchantments springing
Forth from Your loins;
This is the gap from which the sun is reborn,
And I am hailed as its face in the dawn
Between Your thighs.

O Goddess, the two horizons of the sky
Become Your diadems!
Auset Great of Magic, You are the Mother
Of the God, and of all the primordial Gods
Who came into being through You.

Homage to You O Auset Weret Hekauw.
Your magic is my magic,
And through You have I come forth again
As king of the celestial dawn.

~ Invocation to Auset Great of Magic by Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

Part of my goal when I began my journey as a Kemetic iconographer was to bring through and honor aspects of the Netjeru (Gods) that are not otherwise receiving so much veneration or attention in the pop culture or polytheist/ Pagan communities.  There will always be certain deities who will be popularly represented:  Auset (Isis), Anpu (Anubis), Djehuty (Thoth), Heru (Horus)...what I call the "rock stars" of the Kemetic pantheon.  These deities have no shortage of images- ancient and contemporary- to honor Them.  Their PR machines, it would seem, have served them only too well.

However, even within the most celebrated deities, there are aspects of their iconography or manifestations that remain less represented, which I feel are equally as worthy of representation.  My aim has been, even when creating icons for the most well-known deities, to choose modes of representation for them that call forth the lesser known aspects of their personalities.  There are forms and epithets of each deity that remain obscure or in the background, or that seem to be not as forthcoming in the popular consciousness.

With the Sacred West Triptych I have chosen to celebrate three deities whose names and forms are certainly known and well represented within the ancient traditions of Kemetic iconography, but whose presence seems not to be so well established in the contemporary iconography.  Ptah-Sokar-Ausir, Anpu neb Ta-djoser, and Auset-Weret-Hekhauw form the three panels of the Sacred West Tryptic.  They were chosen to be placed together in this manner because these three Netjeru (Gods) are the custodians of the magic through which the blessed dead are transformed into the eternally living.  Each of these Gods, in their own right, is the possessor of the Heka (or Magic) that makes resurrection and immortality possible.  They are the givers of this gift, each of them taking one or more aspects of this process within their sphere of influence.

"Ptah-Sokar-Ausir"/ Panel 1
"Anpu neb Ta-Djoser"/ Panel 2

"Auset-Weret-Hekauw"/ Panel 3

One certainly cannot say that Auset or Isis, greatest of goddesses, lacks representation either in ancient or modern times!  In particular, Auset as a goddess of magic is soundly present in the hearts and minds of all who know of Her.  However, my feeling was that Auset the Great Enchantress, Isis Who is Great of Magic, in Her cobra-bodied form as nourisher and life-giver, is far less represented than in Her more obviously motherly, fully human iconography.  When I prayed to the Goddess and asked Her for an image, this was the one She responded with.  It is an image that summons all the magical force and motherly potency of which the Goddess Auset is capable, which surrounds, sustains and protects, just as it begets, transforms and bestows with renewed life.


The cobra Goddess Weret-Hekauw has always been a goddess in Her own right, embodying in very ancient times the kingdom of Lower Egypt and the magical power of its Red Crown.  When this goddess passes into the body of Auset, the two great goddesses become an even greater goddess of indomitable strength- a goddess who contains the magic of creation and resurrection in the streams of milk passing from Her breasts.

My icon "Auset-Weret-Hekauw" celebrates a goddess who stands at the doorway to the Other World as the bearer of everlasting life for those worthy souls passing through.  As She did for Her son Heru (or Horus), Auset-Weret-Hekauw stands as guardian in the marshes of the dark world, where the potentiality for chaos exists.  It is Auset in Her great magic who takes hold of this chaotic potential and harnesses its power for creation, resurrection, and order.  She takes all poisonous and noxious creatures unto Herself, and through Her unique qualities as magical Mother, transforms potentially deadly forces into a force that sustains and empowers the lives it touches.

Here we have a Goddess who becomes Mother to both living and dead.  For the living, She is a goddess of magical protection, taking the sick, afflicted, weak or dispossessed into Her divine care.  No living soul is without merit or hope in the eyes of this all-powerful goddess, Who beholds all beings as Her very own children, hearing their prayers for healing or deliverance from oppression.  Her magic surrounds them all, and there is no illness, no injustice beyond the scope of Her magical embrace.

For the dead, Auset-Weret-Hekauw becomes a new mother, a womb that receives the infant seed of the soul, and bestows upon it the magic of rebirth.  She suckles the souls of the newly dead, transferring unto them the divine power needed to make a  safe transition between the worlds of the living and the spiritual domain inhabited by the dead.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Photo Essay: The Sacred West Triptych (Part 1)

Detail from the completed under drawing of "Ptah-Sokar-Ausir"~ an original Kemetic icon by master iconographer Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa/ Panel 1 of The Sacred West Triptych

My most recent work is a departure from my previous working methods.  Instead of focusing on a solitary deity, allowing conception to take place one icon panel at a time, I have been compelled to bring through three divine bodies at a time; causing my work to become the process of actualizing the Netjeru (Gods) in a manner where a dialogue is being constructed between three deities whose powers and spheres of influence are intimately intertwined.

My new tryptic- which I am calling The Sacred West Triptych- is the first in a series of four icon triptychs, which I am collectively labeling Gods of Life, Gods of Death.  This work concerns how the Gods interact with the two most fundamental aspects of creation and existence- life and death.  Each triptych summons the vital essence or power (sekhem) of three Netjeru working co-creatively in nature and in human nature.  A very great part of that nature is how we enter this world, and how we depart it.  Living things are brought forth into creation, and they depart one aspect of that creation as an entrance into another.

Panel 1 of The Sacred West Triptych presents the God Ptah-Sokar-Ausir (or Ptah-Sokar-Osiris), a triune deity whose presence embodies the fusion of three great gods:  Ptah, the Creator of humankind, the earth, and all material forms; Sokar, the ancient God of the death state Whose cavern in the Duat (or spiritual realm) becomes the place where death is transformed into renewed life; and Ausir (or Osiris), the God Whose death and resurrection provide the model by which all beings may achieve eternal life.

We see in this panel the God Ptah-Sokar-Ausir in His most prominent guise, that of a mummiform man with the head of a Levant sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes), and crowned with the tall atef crown.  Solar disk and twisted ram horns provide an iconographic link between the God Sokar and Ra, Whose passage through the domain of Sokar in the Duat gives restoration and resurrection to the Sun-God after His entry into the after death state.

Another embodiment of the Sun God's renewal, the winged Wedjat Eye, fans its feathers in a gesture of both reception and transmission, where the God Ptah-Sokar-Ausir receives the body of Ra as the midnight sun, and then fills it with His power of transfiguration.  This moment of transfiguration is heralded by the appearance of the iaret or rearing cobra, the Cobra Goddess Who becomes the vital force of the Sun-God projected throughout creation.

The solar disk emerges from behind the head of Sokar, and we know that this is the newly born Sun-God, revivified after His progress through the Duat after death realm, because it bursts with a spray of opening lotus blossoms and buds, which signify the renewal of all life after death, together with the very moment of creation itself.  The nature of this miracle is denoted in the staff/ scepter held in the hands of the Ptah aspect of Ptah-Sokar-Ausir; the ankh djed was, which combines life, resurrection (or stability) and power respectively.  These are the three aspects whose interwoven power allows existence and creation to continue in their endless cycles of becoming.

The Djed Column, symbolizing the backbone of the God Ausir, stands erect in the stern of the sacred Henu Ark, the boat representing both body and domain of the God Sokar.  In this instance, the Djed epitomizes the resurrection of the God Ausir from the dead, the process by which all dead or dormant life is rejuvenated into the state of perpetual life.  The Djed denotes this process of being cut down, yet rising again, being transferred the vital essence of the Netjer (God Ptah-Sokar-Ausir).  This essence is seen in the writhing body of the Cobra Goddess rising up from the top of the Djed to bestow the living power of the God.

Behind the mummified body of the God- who is wrapped in the embrace of sparrowhawk wings- we see the strange form of the Henu Ark, which is not only a physical residence or shrine of the God, but more significantly stands for the spiritual domain inhabited by the Netjer in that world beyond the world.  The head of a white oryx or Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) crowns the prow, signifying the power of the God, while two other emblems of Sokar, the sparrowhawk and Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), ornament the curvature of the Henu Ark's deck.  The cabin of the Henu Ark- as used by the ancient Egyptians in the cult of Sokar- always enshrined the sacred funeral mound of the God, capped with the head or entire body of a sparrowhawk.  In this icon, we see the God Himself standing in the central space, rising up in the place of the mound-shrine used to indicate the presence of Sokar.  We see that pyramid-like mound, from which a sparrowhawk's head emerges, at the top of the icon panel, above the head of the God Sokar.