Category Archives: Prayers of the Ancients

Serket the Scorpion Queen

Serket (also known as Selkis or Serqet) is an Egyptian goddess of fertility, nature, animals, medicine, magic, and, above all; healing venomous stings and bites. Her name means “she who causes the throat to breathe,” and as well as “she who causes the throat to tighten. In addition to stinging the unrighteous, Serket could cure scorpion stings and the effects of other venoms such as snakebite.

One of the most dangerous species of scorpion, the Deathstalker, resides in North Africa, so Serket was considered a highly important goddess, and sometimes she was the patron deity of  pharaohs. She had a close association with the early rulers as their protector, most notably the rulers Scorpion I and Scorpion II.

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Our Sanctuary has many scorpions, most of which do not sting.

As the protector against venom and snakebite, Serket was said to protect the other deities from Apep, the snake-demon. Also, since the bite from many of the venomous creatures of Egypt could prove fatal, Serket was considered a protector of the dead, particularly being associated with venoms and fluids causing stiffening. She was the protector of the tents of embalmers and of the canopic jar associated with venom. Serket gained a strong association with Neith, Isis, and Nephthys, who also guarded the canopic jars. Eventually, as the Egyptian pantheon evolved, Serket began to be identified with Isis, sharing imagery and parentage.

Serket was shown as a scorpion or as a woman with a scorpion on her head. It is unknown if she had her own temple, however she had a good number of priests in many communities.

Nefertari’s tomb has the following utterance to Serket:

Serket, mistress of heaven and lady of all the gods. I have come before you [oh] king’s great wife, mistress of the two lands, lady of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified Before Osiris who resides in Abydos, and I have accorded you a place in the sacred land, so that you may appear gloriously in heaven like Ra.

— McDonald, J.K. 1996, House of Eternity: The Tomb of Nefertari, p. 69

 

 

The Nature of Amun (as Kek)

Among the great gods, Amun was probably the most popular in the New Kingdom and onward. He was the champion of the needy and the vizier of the humble. His decisions were merciful, disposed to forgive past sins. He was associated with the Sun, and the Ram, and the humble frog (the God Kek). Frogs and amphibians are somewhat miraculous in their ability to hibernate in the mud and then arise with the warmth and sunlight in the Spring…

You are Amun, the Lord of the silent,
Who comes at the voice of the poor;
When I call to you in my distress,
You come to rescue me,
To give breath to him who is wretched,
To rescue me from bondage.
You are Amen-Re, Lord of Thebes,
Who rescues him who is in
duat;
For you are he who is merciful,
When one appeals to you,
You are he who comes from afar.

Stela of Nebre
M. Lichtheim Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol. II, p.105f

As I listen this evening, between the downpour of rain and silence, I hear the Frogs calling. The Ancient Egyptians associated the Frog with fertility and resurrection. Amun is the Frog is in his aspect of invisibility, between hibernation in the mud to emergence in the Sun; the unending Frogs along the Nile.

Arise my friend!

Amulet_Possibly_Depicting_a_Tree_Frog_MET_26.7.1028_rp

The Falcon Speaks

In addition to our flock of silkies, living within our Sanctuary are birds of all kinds. The calls and cries of the birds are constant and welcome. We hear the Barn Owls and Great Horned Owls at sunset; the cries of the Falcon and the sounds of the Ravens in the morning.

The Falcon follows and circles while I walk through the Sanctuary. He is Horus and passage 148 of the Coffin texts describes Horus in his own words:

I am Horus, the great Falcon upon the ramparts of the house of him of the hidden name. My flight has reached the horizon. I have passed by the gods of Nut. I have gone further than the gods of old. Even the most ancient bird could not equal my very first flight. I have removed my place beyond the powers of Set, the foe of my father Osiris. No other god could do what I have done.I have brought the ways of eternity to the twilight of the morning. I am unique in my flight. My wrath will be turned against the enemy of my father Osiris and I will put him beneath my feet in my name of ‘Red Cloak’.

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Horus – Edfu Temple

Horus also speaks in the Book of the Dead:

I come to the room where the sun rose. A falcon flies in and settles on my wrist. In his mouth hangs the skin of a snake. ‘I am Horus,’ he cries. ‘From the land of kings I come, riding through the hot winds on the back of a jackal. Where priests murmured in crumbling temples, I flew through their sacred fires dropping feathers. I come to shout the wisdom of air. I’ve come with a sycamore seed in my beak. By the river we’ll sow it and watch it grow through the years. You will die there, Osiris; and I will sit nine thousand years in the tree’s white branches, one eye on each horizon, waiting for your return.

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Horus – Temple of Seti I

“Who is this Cat?”

The Egyptian Tree of Life, the Persea Tree, was guarded and protected by the Mau, the Great Cat. The sacred Persea Tree emerged when Ra (Re) as Atum the Sun-god first appeared at Heliopolis. The Tree played a part in the Creation Myth that explained how the nine gods who made up the Ennead of Heliopolis were created. The fruit of the Tree of Life gave eternal life and knowledge of the divine plan.

Apep was the Egyptian god of evil, chaos and destruction; depicted as a giant snake. He threatened divine order and attempted to prevent Re from bringing the sun into the sky each day. According to ancient Egyptian literature Re as the Great Cat Mau battled against Apep to prevent him from taking control of the Persea Tree of Life and the world. After many battles Mau defeated Apep and cut off the head of the serpent.

On the Book of the Dead written in the Papyrus of Ani there is this statement:

“I am the Cat which fought near the Persea tree in Anu on the night when the foes of Neb-er-Tcher (God of Creation) were destroyed.

Who is this Cat?

This male Cat is Re himself, and he was called ‘Mau’ because of the speech of the god Sa, who said concerning him: ‘He is like (Mau) unto that which he hath made; therefore, did the name of Re become ‘Mau.’ ” (Budge, 1895, p.287)

This papyrus shows Mau killing the snake with the ancient Egyptian knife, Khop.

Apep

“In the Beginning”

“In the beginning there was Isis (Aset): Oldest of the Old, She was the Goddess from whom all beginning Arose. She was the Great Lady, Mistress of the two Lands of Egypt, Mistress of Shelter, Mistress of Heaven, Mistress of the House of Life, Mistress of the word of God. She was the unique. In all Her great and wonderful works She was a wiser magician and more excellent than any other god.” ~ Ancient Egyptian texts

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Egyptian Woman holding sitrum

“Come to me. Come to me, for my speech hath in it the power to protect, and it possesseth life. I am Isis the goddess, and I am the lady of words of power.

Isis, the goddess and great enchantress at the head of the gods. Heaven was satisfied with the words of the goddess Isis. The great lady, the God-mother, giver of life. The divine one, the only one, the greatest of the gods and goddesses, the queen of all gods, the female Ra, the female Horus, the eye of Ra, Lady of the New Year, maker of the sunrise, Lady of heaven, the light-giver of heaven.

Queen of the earth, most mighty one, lady of warmth and fire, the God-mother. The lady of life, lady of green crops, lady of bread, lady of abundance, lady of joy and gladness, lady of love, the maker of kings, the beautiful goddess, the lady of words of power. Wife of the lord of the abyss.

Let the blood of Isis, and the magical spirits of Isis and the words of power of Isis, be mighty to protect us all and keep safely…”

~ From the Book of the Dead, translated by E. A. Wallis Budge

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Temple of Isis at Philae

 

Invoking the Goddess

I offer to and invoke Aset the goddess of love, fertility and motherhood. She is the devoted wife, mother and protector of the poor and enslaved. Aset gives a voice to the voiceless and all that she represents is needed for the progression of humanity.

We offer to Aset!

We offer to Hathor!

Let us Celebrate this day and honor the Goddesses of love and righteousness!

Prayer to Thoth

This Prayer to Thoth c. 1150 BCE, from the time of the New Kingdom, is a prayer for inspiration to Thoth, God of wisdom and writing. This prayer was found in the Papyrus Anastasi V, a scroll discovered at Thebes more than 150 years ago.

According to the Cairo Ancient Egyptian calendar, today is the last day of the month, and on this day Thoth comes forth. Offerings made this day are blessed with possibilities.

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Thoth-ibis and devotee on a base inscribed for Padihorsiese

As a writer seeking inspiration, I invoke Thoth:

Come to me, Thoth, O noble Ibis. O god who longs for Khmunu, O dispatch-writer of the Ennead, the great one of Unu. Come to me that you may give advice and make me skillful in your office.

Better is your profession than all professions. It makes men great. He who is skilled in it is found fit to exercise the office of magistrate. I have seen many for whom you have acted and they are in the council of the Thirty, they being strong and powerful through what you have done. You are the one who has given advice. You are the one who has given advice to the motherless man. Shay and Renenwetet are with you. Come to me that you may advise me.

I am the servant of your house. Let me relate your prowess in whatever land I am. Then the multitude of men shall say “How great are the things that Thoth has done.” Then they shall come with their children to brand them with your profession, a calling good to the Lord of Victory. Joyful is the one who has exercised it.

Prayer to Ra

Oh RA

You God of Life, you Lord of Love,
All men live when you shine.

You are the crowned King of the Gods.
The Goddess Aset embraces you,
and enfolds you in all seasons.
Those who follow you sing to you with joy,
and they bow down their foreheads to the earth
In gratitude for your radiant blessings.

Oh RA, You the King of Truth, the Lord of Eternity,
The Prince of Everlastingness,
You Sovereign of all Gods,
You God of Life, you Creator of Eternity,
You Maker of Heaven.
All the Gods rejoice at your rising.

Oh RA, You giver of all life,
The Earth rejoices when it sees your golden rays
People who have been long dead
come forward with cries of joy
to behold your beauties every day.
You go forth each day over Heaven and Earth.

Oh RA God of Life, you Lord of Love,
All men live when you shine.

~ Prayer to Ra from the tomb of Shep-en-Mut (25th dynasty)

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Solstice, the Re-Birth of Horus

Over five thousand years ago Ancient Egyptians celebrated the re-birth of the sun at this time of year. The midwinter festival celebrated the birth of Horus, son of Aset.

The feast days were for 12 days, to reflect the 12 divisions in their zodiac sun calendar.  Ancient Egyptians decorated with greenery and especially with 12 palm shoots as a symbol of the completed year. It was believed that a palm put forth a shoot each month.

I have not kept track of the frequency of our palm shoots, but perhaps the temple cats know.

Temple cats
Blessings of the light

 

Karnak Temple was built in alignment with the Solstice in order to focus light on a shrine to the Sun god.

The Karnak Temple
Karnak Temple
Solstice in karnak
Solstice at Karnak

 

 

 

Flame of Protection

Intense, destructive fires are all around us here in California. When meditating upon these flames, I found a  protection prayer – call it spell – to protect those “kings” (and queens), who are fighting these fires; and to protect those “kings” (and queens), whose homes and animals are at risk. Furthermore,  let us send safety and healing to those whose homes and animals have perished in the flames.

Sacred Flame

“Lighting the Flame” was a daily ritual in the ancient temples. At daybreak the priests would light the sacred fire just before the sun – Ra – rose in the east. The sacred flame of Ra is warm and life-giving.  Fire has been a “savior” to human-kind, providing warmth and light, protecting us from the dark and cold.

Prayer for Protection

O Sekhmet, Eye of Ra, Great of Flame,
Lady of protection who envelops her creator,
Come towards the King, Nb-twy (Lord of the Two Lands) . . .
Protect him and preserve him from all arrows,
And every evil of this year . . .

O Sekhmet, who fills the ways with blood,
Who slaughters to the limits of all she sees,
Come towards the living image, the Living Falcon,
Protect him, and preserve him from all evil,
And every arrow of this year.

Triad of Ramesses II with Amun and Ma’at