Monday, June 17, 2013

Homage to Sekhmet, Temple of Karnak, Luxor, Egypt

Now, my friends on Facebook have seen this painting because I posted pics as I was working on it, but now I'd finally like to write a bit about what inspired it. It represents what I experienced in the Chapel of Sekhmet at the Temple of Karnak, and it honors the goddess.

A brief history lesson for those who may not know: Sekhmet was the Egyptian goddess of war, protection, and healing. She was depicted with the face of a lioness and her breath was said to have created the desert. Most statues of her show her seated on a throne, but the statue in the Chapel of Sekhmet features her standing and holding a staff with a lotus atop it.

When we visited the Chapel, it was before sunrise. We'd arrived at Karnak early (as we did for many sites) for several reasons: to beat the heat and the tourists and to watch the sun come up there, which creates beautiful reflections in the lake and lights up the monuments in astonishing ways.

Now the Chapel itself has been closed off to tourists for about forty years as that section of the Temple is undergoing renovation (although I'm sure with appropriate baksheesh, some of the temple guards are more than willing to allow people to have a peek if they promise to not damage or deface anything). But since it was still dark, we had only a few candles to light our way, so we filed in silently in single file. Once in, the person leading us held up her candle to we could see the statue. We spent some time there taking in Sekhmet's energy. She is a powerful presence. I felt that she sized all of us up, was satisfied our intentions were good, so she settled down to listen to our inner requests.

Since Sekhmet is the remover of obstacles, I touched the statue briefly and asked for assistance removing the obstacles I feel have always gotten in the way of my being my whole, true Self: fears and anxieties, primarily; but also a tendency to being judgmental and snarky when compassion would serve others and me much better.

Afterwards, we all gathered on a small hill to watch the sun rise, and here came the power of the experience. I heard Sekhmet speaking to me. (Yeah, yeah, I've gotten all woo-woo on you; you'll just have to take it for what it's worth.) She wanted me to know that anger is not always bad. She said there are worthless fights, true; but she was insistent that there are righteous fights and that I must stop backing down all the time in the name of peace. One can fight without resorting to actual violence. The other thing she wanted me to know is that it's not so much fear that stops me at times: it's my own mind. If I would just follow my intuitive impulses and do without thinking so much, I'd blossom like a flower. I actually answered her back on this one: What about reasonable caution? She didn't answer but found my question highly amusing, and I felt a gentle, protective touch before she departed.

It still takes my breath away just remembering it.

And thus I made a painting.

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