Pool of Lotus: Magical Reflections on New Egyptian Spirituality

Out of the deeps rises the mysterious lotus. Stop in for refreshment, heka, and reflections from the sacred waters of ancient Egypt.

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Holli Emore

Holli Emore

Holli Emore is Executive Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the premiere educational resource for Pagan and other nature-based religions (www.cherryhillseminary.org), founder of Osireion (www.osireion.com), editor/writer for Wild Garden: Pagans in the Growing Interfaith Landscape at Patheos.com, and serves on the board of directors for Interfaith Partners of S.C. (interfaithpartnersofsc.org).  She is co-founder of the original Pagan Round Table, www.paganroundtable.org, and author of "Pool of Lotus," available in print, or for Kindle or Nook, at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/holli1032

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b2ap3_thumbnail_6.jpgEach of the past five years Temple Osireion has remembered the journey of the soul through the Duat with a ritual drama.  We do this around the first of November, a time when it is natural to embrace the darker season, ponder the afterlife, and imagine meeting the gods.  The journey through the Duat is one of the grand myths which provides a metaphor for personal and community growth.  It is arduous, confusing, transforming and, ultimately, regenerative. 

With the regeneration comes a rebirth into the dawn of a new day.  The ancient texts tell of Osiris’ transformation into Ra, of Ra’s transformation from an old, dying neteru back into the young hawk that bursts from the eastern akhet (horizon) into flight across the day. 

Pool of Lotus has for three years brought messages that we hope have shed a bit of light on new Egyptian practice, encouraged those on a Kemetic-inspired path, and better connected Egyptian religion to the contemporary Pagan movement.  As with many journeys, it is time to look ahead to a new morning, a next new way of being. 

In the coming year I will be directing my focus on finishing my graduate degree at Cherry Hill Seminary, so it seems wise to bring Pool of Lotus to a close.  My heartfelt thanks goes to the editor of Witches and Pagans, Anne Niven, for opening this opportunity to me in 2012.  Your encouragement, advice and support are a treasure for which I will always be grateful.  Blessings of peace to all.

A god has been born now that I have been born:
I see and have sight,
I have my existence,
I am lifted up upon my place,
I have accomplished what has been decreed . . .
(Book of the Dead, 174)

Come, come in peace, O glorious Eye of Heru.
Be strong and renew your youth in peace,
for the flame shines like Ra on the double horizon.
I am pure, I am pure, I am pure, I am pure.
(From “Great Rite Honoring Djehuty,” Eternal Egypt by Richard Reidy)

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“Every divine word came into being through that which was thought by the heart and commanded by the tongue [of Ptah]. . . And so justice is done to him who does what is liked, and evil is done to him who does what is hated. And so life is given to the peaceful . . .” (Memphite Theology, from Frankfort, 1948)

If a good example is set by the leader, it will be effective for all eternity, and all his wisdom will become one with the eternity of the cycles. (The Wisdom of Ptah-Hotep, Jacq, 2004)

b2ap3_thumbnail_horussetf_20151213-163928_1.jpgI fear that in these volatile times we are too easily turned aside from the wisdom of ancient Egypt. Politics in America is never a tame beast, but the current season is fraught with demagoguery and hyperbole of a level I have not seen in my own lifetime.

And yet, with all its modern challenges, good leadership still emerges from the same principles it always has: personal integrity; honesty; honor of both one’s self and others; fairness; compassion and courage.

The Egyptians are said to have been a conservative society, not because they resembled anything in today’s civic life, but because they had experienced extremes of upheaval and knew their survival depended on maintaining the balance of Ma’at.

So it is that (to my knowledge) we have no records of protests and dissension left to us, though there surely must have been some at times. We do know that when the Egyptians threw off the oppressive religion of Akhenaten and reinstated the temples, they did everything they knew of to erase the memory of the Heretic from history.  They did not want his words lingering to re-introduce chaos into their recovered balance.

Since every word has power, since we are all gods speaking divine words, it behooves us to ponder what creative works we send out when we speak. For many in the blogosphere, words are particularly powerful, and we do well to heed the lesson of the Egyptians to moderate our speech into something truly effective.

How will you make your every word count today? What will be the first words you think, then speak, in the morning? And what will be your last words upon retiring for the night? Couch your waking hours in good speech, in medu netjer, sacred words that bring life, affirmation and truth to yourself and others. In this way you will “become one with the eternity of the cycles.”

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b2ap3_thumbnail_22573479132_3700a80e9f_k.jpgAlready in Salt Lake City we could see that the sun was moving away towards a darker time of the year, even against the dazzling sunset backdrop of mountain peaks in the distance. I had dreamed since 1993 of attending the Parliament of the World’s Religions, not realizing that I would have taken on a whole new religious identity by the time I got to attend my first one this October. So immersed had I become in that path that I was invited to play the role of Isis in a ceremony honoring many of the traditional goddesses who have been worshiped around the world, from Amaterasu to Kali to Oshun and Brigid. Read more about Goddesses Alive here. For each of us costumed as a goddess, including a fabulous mask by noted artist Lauren Raine, there was no script. Our task was to be the goddess while narrators and music set the ambience for an audience sitting in the round.

In the weeks leading up to this performance I was focused on logistics: my first wig (think Donna Summer); jewelry, robe, choreography. I will not in this lifetime ever again resemble the willowy figure of Egyptian paintings, and I had no intention of wearing a tight, transparent sheath, so I opted for a shimmering loose caftan. Then two days before our flight I fell, twisting and breaking my ankle. Choreography would be limited to arm gestures and it was anyone’s guess whether I would be able to perform sans wheelchair.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_PlaquetheOfferingofMaatBTR_103_20130520-193301_1.jpgDua, Maat, you who were with Ra from the beginning.

Mistress of the two lands, Lady of truth, dua, hail and welcome.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_osiris.jpgWe traveled up the Nile to visit some of ancient Egypt’s primary cult centers in the last post.  Since that time, the star Sopdet (Sirius) has begun to show herself at the horizon just before dawn.  This tells us that Isis has been weeping for her murdered husband Osiris, and soon her tears will cause the annual Nile flood.

With the inundation comes the end of Shemu, the dry season.  As the flood waters recede we find ourselves in the season of Akhet.  We can see the fields full of rich black silt left behind by the flooding river; the farmers sow seed now, knowing crops will flourish as they grow in the fertile black ground.

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