Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Beloved Kemet, Beloved America

My trip is over.

My quest to explore the re-manifestation of Netjer / Kemeticism, in this my 5th trip to the United States, has come to an end.

My journey took me from New York, to San Francisco (layover) to New Jersey (short stop to NY because of snow storms), to Boston, to Houston (layover), to Salt Lake City (layover), West Wendover, San Jose and ultimately back to Los Angeles for the flight back to Melbourne.

I have visited some of the best collections of Egyptian antiquities outside of Egypt itself. I have seen art that heretofore I knew only from books – my trip rendering me standing before some of the all time greats like Gauguin, Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, Braque, Klimt . . . so many more.

I met some of the very peoples that are instrumental in playing their part in this re-manifestation: Baba Heru Ankh Ra Semahj from Studio Of Ptah in New York – who gifted me with an exquisite ring of Heru; Ptahmassu Nofra U’aa who now resides in the top corner of Nevada in a landscape as breathtaking and very similar to Kemet itself! Richard Reidy invited me to a ritual for the Netjeret Bastet, and I finally got to meet Tamara Suida who has provided me with the hieroglyphic transcriptions for many of my paintings.

I was given this ring by Master Craftsman of Ptah Himself,  Baba Heru Ankh Ra Semahj from Studio Of Ptah in New York City; I wore it every day for the remainder of the trip
I felt the Netjeru Themselves as I made my way through my journey. Meh Urt seemed to usher me into the country, as if she followed me from Melbourne where I began to notice her. I had partaken in some discussions on global warming and flooding when I first got to NYC, and Baba Heru reminded me that Her name means "Great Flood".

I had my first ever experience of snow and it was significant. The freezing cold and perils of snowfall – unknown to me before this – brought challenges I had not yet faced. I tweeted about the nature of snow and who its Netjer might be, and Tamara answered that it was considered to be of Set in times when the ancients made expeditions to countries where it was prevalent. That made a lot of sense to me. And when I finally surrendered to the snow, and acknowledged Set in His role in this, the trip took on a new dimension. I had to rise to the challenge of navigating my way through the snow in New York and Boston – and OUT of New York and Boston. By not paying attention to weather alerts I could have got stuck in either city, and potentially trapped there longer than needed: it could potentially have ruined the trip.

In another part of the trip I felt the presence of Ptah in a very real, powerful way. I am understating this and staying brief, as it is connected with a moment I wish to keep private. (But you will see a reflection of that moment in one of the paintings that will be produced as a result of this trip).

Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah; it felt like I was standing in Kemet itself. A breathtaking, moving experience that punctuated the 2nd half of my journey; centre right is a flat table projection of the mountain that is the subject of "Montu Mountain" (see paintings list below)

I felt the presence of Montu in a mountain, Nekhbet and Mut as a vulture flew by, Meretseger in the silence of the Utah peaks, and all of the Netjeru in the salt flats of Bonneville. How I worshiped Ra when I arrived at Houston airport where it was warm and there was NO snow! I thanked Ra again when I got to San Jose where the weather was like a good and rare summer in Melbourne: I got to swim, sunbake, and draw under Ra’s rays, by this time many of the paintings beginning to materialise in sketch form, which is usually what happens.

I felt the presence of Sobek when I saw Him on a devotees arm as an exceptionally beautiful tattoo; I felt many Netjeru as I browsed exquisite antiquities across the country, but there was One who literally called me to Her statues each time there was a large votive statue present (usually from the reign of Amenhotep III as he made so many created!): Sekhmet. This happened at all 4 of the major museums I visited.

These breathtaking statues of Sekhmet have captured me again for the third time and every time I visit the Metropolitan Museum Of Art in New York
I want to write about all of the Netjeru I sensed or felt during those visits to the Met and Brooklyn Museums in New York, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose but it’s such a big list: Wadjet, Ausar, Auset, NebtHt, Neith, Hat-Mehit, Herishef, Banebdjedet, Khnum, Nefertum, Nut, Amon Ra, Hap, Djehuti, Khonsu – may the Netjeru that I did not mention forgive me!

Ptahmassu at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah; connecting with this man was pivotal to the trip, and has generated a forthcoming collaboration in the form of an exhibition of our work together in a city in the United States in the future

The Paintings

I have sketches for 8 + 1 paintings as a result of this trip - 8 specifically with the theme "The Netjeru in America". I list the working titles (they may change) and the city / place where the genesis of inspiration occurred (each work however will be and is influenced by other parts of the visit as is natural I think):

Inspired in New York:

  • This has all happened before and this will all happen again
  • Triple Sekhmet
  • The Netjeru in New York (a work I had begun on some time ago, based on my last trip in 2009)

Inspired in Boston and New York:

  • Dazzled by the mirror of heaven

Inspired in Wendover:

  • Risk
  • Blessed by the son of Ptah
  • Montu Mountain

Inspired in San Jose

  • Ancient gods, new world

Inspired in Melbourne, sketched on the way to LA and affirmed in San Jose

  • Infernal

The Lunar New Year has commenced, and is the sign of the Ram. Perhaps Amon himself blesses my return, and the potency of my sojourn that I carry within me?

And now the real work begins.

One of the most powerful symbols of this trip and the concept of my forthcoming series, "The Netjeru In America": the so called Cleopatra's needle in Central Park New York City; the obelisk has dedication originally from Djehutymose III and later Ramesses II and will be featured in a forthcoming painting

Saturday, 14 February 2015

A Kemetic Ritual for the Goddess Bastet

I was fortunate enough to attend a temple ritual dedicated to the Goddess Bastet whilst attending Pantheacon 2015.

Held in one of the Doubletree Hotel suites where the convention is located, the ritual was conducted by Richard Reidy and participants of the Kemetic Temple of San Jose, The Temple of Ra in San Francisco, the Kemetic Temple of Sacramento, and the Per Akhet Kemetic Temple of Colorado.

The ceremony lasted around 45 minutes and featured some beautiful words and epithets of Bastet that I hadn't heard before. Those that were attending as guests like myself were able to join in the ceremony with various recitations and prayers.

After, the offerings were reverted and we had a mini feast of sorts. It was festive, fun and sacred all at once.

Beautiful Bastet with the ankh offering, and an offering of Maat

This was my first attendance of a group Kemetic ritual and it really was great being in attendance.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Ur Heka

Sometimes, magickal words are written by magickal people and they say just the right things at the right time and are just what you needed to read.

And so it is the case with Don Webb – an author I have mentioned on this blog before – with his words of introduction to a work by another author, Judith Page (also mentioned on this blog previously) on the release in hardback of her collection of poems, “Song of Set”.

Loved and Hated 
by Don Webb

Ur Heka, He was called – the Elder Magician. Perhaps even the first magician. Set for most of Egypt’s history was the most hated god. He killed his brother Osiris, the most popular god, by a dirty trick. He is the reason for storms, for nightmares, for abortions – heck even for foreigners. Let’s get rid of this guy.

Except. He saves the world. Oh I didn’t write “saved” as in Atum Created the world, or Isis raised her son. Set saves the world every single night. About 4:30 every morning, Re’s boat gets stuck on a sand bar, and a 7-headed worm made literally of broken dreams called Apep hypnotizes Re, and Heka (magic himself), and Sia (perception himself) and Hu (command likewise personified). The universe is doomed, the King of the gods and the three most powerful forces in the universe combined can’t stop this guy. But Set does. Every night.

In His “Green Deeds” He is called on frequently in the medical papyri. He gives the Scepter of Breathing to the Dead. His Seven Stars, which we call the Big Dipper, gave him his name of “Stabilizer.” He alone of the gods will not die. He stabilizes Himself. He is the pattern of immortality. Among the wise he is beloved. 

So how can I find this guy, loved by seekers of immortality, savior of the universe? Well if you are in the Northern Hemisphere do as the Egyptians do. Greet the sun in the morning. Face Khepera in his boat and then point with your left hand – and you will be pointing at the Seven Stars, the Constellation of the Thigh. His is (for them and for us) the Left Hand Path. This is one way.

Or you may look for his image, as my friend Joan Lansberry did in her book Images of Set and see how this god changed from symbol of sovereignty to symbol of evil, symbol of mystery to bringer of confusion. And then it hits you, “This guy can be anything, except ordinary. This guy is the Mind refusing to fit in.”

Or you can read the lovely words in this book by my friend Judith Page. Set no longer roams Egypt. Maybe it was Crowley that set him free by seeing Him as the emblem of the “Fire and Force” ShT. Or maybe it was my fellow Texan Robert E. Howard who used as a symbol of all things dark and mysterious that Conan fought against. Or maybe it was Kenneth Grant and Gregorious in 1955 who declared that Set-Typhon was the God of the Age. Or maybe it was Anton LaVey who said the Children of Set shall see a certain dark sun in the sky. Or maybe it was Michael A. Aquino who Received the word of Self-Creation Xeper from Set in 1975.

Anyway He’s back. And He is hated by the stupid death-worshippers that hated Him before and He is Beloved by the Wise. He is the God of magicians and mad artists and (rather clearly in this slim book) great poets. If you have known Him long, you will love this book. If you have never met Him – I suspect you may have some interesting dreams soon.

One may enjoy this book as you would any other book of poems. But if you really want to taste it – read it by candlelight on the night of the dark Moon. You may be surprised at Who comes to Visit after you blow out your candle and see the starlight streaming in your window. Oh I’ve said too much. Forget that last part.

Treated detail of sketch from work in progress, "Infernal" by Setken

Friday, 6 February 2015

Is there a Neter of snow?

The obelisk known as Cleopatra's Needle in situ Central Park, New York City: one of the boldest images I have captured for my project so far

I always said that I would not be able to handle being in the snow, but here I am in New York City with it coating the place like icing.

And I am fine.

Maybe it is because it is a full moon tonight (now, maybe? My sense of time is so out of whack with jet lag) that I am feeling this place so intensely. It is my third time in NYC, and my fifth visit to the States. What feels different?

It is that now I know that I do not know. I don’t have the answers for all the big questions I contemplate (probably too much) and can not predict the future. Nor can I control it. For some reason, I am drawn to thinking about mans evolution, his fate, and accomplishments here.

I visited the Met museum today – the third time to do so in my life – and wandered around the Ancient Egyptian part mostly. I have been struck by many realisations about Ancient Kemet before. But never have I been so struck by the notion that a once, very great, very advanced civilisation preceded ours and that in many ways, especially spiritually, we have devolved.

That great civilisation came and went, as ours may also.

As I studied the artwork and hieroglyphic inscriptions more closely than last time I was here (I had not yet ventured into Neo Kemetic painting at that time) I was taken aback by the precision and certainty of the work. And a profound sense of not being able to entirely grasp the meaning of the great statues and glyphs intellectually at all, and feeling that I am meant to another way but my senses for that way are dumb . . . . .

Was there a Neter of snow? Is snow something sacred to Tefnut? Did the creators of the obelisk we call Cleopatra’s needle dream that it would one day reside in a far off land, covered with snow?

My first day in NYC was under the strong influence of a full moon in Leo, as well as Jupiter, both visible here despite the intense light of Times Square, Manhattan