Out of the deeps rises the mysterious lotus. Stop in for refreshment, heka, and reflections from the sacred waters of ancient Egypt.
The Mouth of the Earth
O King, the mouth of the earth is split open for you, Geb speaks to you. May you be cleansed in the Jackal Lake, may you be purified in the Lake of the Duat. Come in peace . . . (Utterance 697, Pyramid Texts, trans. Faulkner)
We are approaching the time of year when many of the living things around us appear to die, when our spirits sag a little with the dwindling light and ebbing warmth.
The Pyramid Texts urge the recently-deceased king along in his journey towards eternity. Egypt’s risk for seismic activity is lower than many parts of the world, so the idea of the earth splitting open for the king may not carry memories of destruction as it would in many parts of the world. Instead, it represents the welcome of the earth deity, Geb, and the opportunity to be cleansed in the lakes of the Duat.
Still, underground is a scary place to be, unless you are a vampire. Just as for us, it was the place where Egyptians initially put their dead (before building mastabas, pyramids and then rock tombs). Just last week I cleaned out my favorite herb and flower bed, removing the year’s leftovers of coneflower, black-eyed Susan, thyme and iris, and burying it all in my compost bed. I know that a winter spent beneath the ground will change these trimmings into a rich mulch that will nourish next year’s blooms. Ancient Egypt had a special understanding of the power of death to be transformed into next year’s living abundance, for each year the Nile brought tons of fresh black silt and laid it across the fields. But a whole season of quiet and inactivity still preceded the time of ploughing, planting and growing.
Going into our darkest time of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere, I feel Geb’s gentle welcome, iti em hotep, “Come in peace,” a greeting we in Osireion make to the gods in each of our rituals or personal devotions. Just as I lie down to rest at night with confidence that I will rise in the morning, so I know that this time of darkness will nurture, cleanse and change me in ways that will burst forth in the spring.
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