O how sweet is twilight, that moment of Becoming, when shadows quicken and humankind slumbers, when the fire-orange expanse of Heaven is transformed into scintillating lapis- one moment bright, and the next a blanket of purple blue strewn with flecks of pure gold. Gone is the dazzling turquoise of midday…gone are the swallows darting hither and thither between rustling date palms dappled with the flaxen kiss of Ra. The Sun-God has abandoned His jewel on Earth, and creeping creatures bed down in thickets of papyrus, swaying softly to the serenade of crickets.
The Foremost Sanctuary of Amun casts its spell across a land dominated by stone giants, whose massive bodies bear silent witness to the passage of ages, where priests fumigate the air with myrrh, and sandalwood enchants the hot breezes rushing in from the south. White South, the Kingdom of the Lotus-Lily, the breath of the Eye of Ra, the dangerous and violent temper of the celestial vault’s Great King.
Isheru, O beautiful Isheru! How perfect are your banks, how bold the colors of the sky painted delicately across your lens of pure water. Isheru, in whose reflection the stars in their glory shine. Isheru, where noble Amun becomes the Bull of His Mother, and Khensu-Neferhotep is born! Homage to You, O glorious Isheru, the birthplace of the Lotus-Born, the falcon of crescent and disk, upon whose brow radiates the diadem of Heaven!
Perfect peace, the banks of Isheru the Lake of Profundities. The night sky heaves a sigh of relief as almighty Ra plunges beneath the deep dark waters, and at once all is still. A canopy of stars emerges that can be read like a map. Sah-Orion takes His place above Amun-Ra’s House, where the Ram reclines, enticing the heavenly travelers to pay homage to the King of the Gods. The chanting of priests diminishes, and the crash of a priestesses’ sacred rattle brings the sacred activities of the day to a profound close.
To the South of the Finest Harem of Amun glitters in silver light the crescent-shaped waters of Isheru, which my mind’s eye forms perfectly well even in the utter darkness of night’s thick cover. Fear flutters within my heart, but for a moment, as I enter the Domain of Mother Mut, the Lioness Who has been known to taste of blood and find contentment in rage.
I pour out an offering of fine red beer to You, O fiery Mut, the Lady of Isheru, the Queen of Your Sanctuary in the South! Amun the Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands comes to embrace You, as I come to embrace You…as all living things embrace You! O Mut the lofty of crown and regal of headdress, Whose coronet is the vulture and Whose diadem is the cobra.
Homage to You, Mut the Divine Mother!
Homage to You, Mut the Beloved of Amun-Ra!
Homage to You, Mut the Queen of the Gods!
Homage to You, Mut the Mother of Khensu-Neferhotep!
Homage to You, Mut the Eye of Ra!
Homage to You, Mut-Bastet, the Great and feared Goddess!
Homage to You, Mut the Lioness of the South!
I pour out an offering of the finest red beer in the presence of the Goddess Mut, and before Her two feet I kneel in awe, where fools fear to tread, but wise men come to be reborn through the blood of the Goddess. It is well known that great Amun-Ra, the King of the holiest of holies in Waset, traverses the miles of courtyards and sanctuaries simply to bask in the passionate embrace of the Goddess…even She Whose flaming temper transforms cool water into hot blood…who quickens the pulse and can even stop a heart.
I come to this place of the Navigation, alone and to ponder the meaning of my inner Mysteries, where the Goddess makes Herself known as vulture and lioness, Eye of the Sun and Cobra of the Sun-God’s brow. Her countenance may be terrible, even as is the fear of death, but how lovely to gaze upon Her refined curves, swaying in the moon’s alabaster light and beneath the vault of heaven’s jealous gaze.
Blue-black is the hair of my Goddess, cascading down to Her smooth shoulders in two lappets capped with rosy gold. How beautiful Her gown, woven of gold feathers and enhanced with a girdle of coppery pleats. How shining white is the Southern Crown upon Her head, and beneath it the fan of vulture’s wings and talons, whose lethal grasp firmly holds the gems of Eternity, winking in the pale light of the moon.
Is it a lion’s hot breath I feel upon my face, or the cool brush of a vulture’s wing? Is my Goddess fair or frightening…pleased or passionate…content or ready for war? Behind Her majestic presence I hear the churning of the Lake of Isheru, into whose depths so many men have gazed and been drawn, where kings have offered all that they had…where armies have prayed for victory and priests for prosperity. But the time for simple prayers has come to an end, and my offering provokes its Mistress to come forth and grant Her boons. I have asked for answers, and the Queen of Isheru has opened Her leonine mouth in a manner of answer!
These are the words of Mut the Great, the Mistress of Isheru: Come, O you kings of the Earth, and listen! Come, O you rulers of the North and South, and hear the pronouncements of the Most Ancient One, Who came before you, Who heralded the dawn with Her roars and made great the flood at the time of the First Occasion!
I was with Ra on that day of the splitting open of the Ished Tree in Annu, when the enemies of the Sun-God were torn and Apep severed. I have swallowed darkness, and I have eaten death, and the Primordial Gods feared me in this my name of Mother, Death…Mother, Death. For I alone am your beginning and your end, and within my body do all things that live gain their first beginning, and achieve their last end.
Yet I have drawn forth the infant Sun from my thighs, and I have conceived from a bull and made of Him my Lotus-Born Son. I have taken in Amun, in secret, in the wet lake they call Isheru, and within the crescent flood I give life to the Moon, Whose name has been called Khensu-Neferhotep!
Hush! Hush, O Child of the Secrets, and open your mouth to receive the breast of the Sun, which is hatched from the shell of a beetle and rolled across the vault to be as one with the Ark of Ra. Dutifully the Gods come at my command, for I am the ancient Generatrix, giving the Thrones of the North and South to the Greater and Lesser Companies of the Gods to rule, and it is by my will that such things were ordered as have governed time since the time of the First Occasion.
Come now, my Son, Khensu-Neferhotep, and dip Your lotus body in the waters in which Ra daily bathes…the waters in which Amun brought Himself into being, in which Atum moved His hand over His impassioned body and ejaculated the world. These are the Waters of Renewal, where a boy becomes at last a man, where a husband fathers generations, and where the dead are reborn into everlasting life. These are the waters in which a woman nourishes her child, which embrace a man when he is transformed by the senses, and which drown a seed in order that new life might burst forth!
Know then that all things were born in the depths and return to the depths, deep down into the watery abyss where the Sun had His beginnings. This is the Crescent-Place we call Isheru, which receives the gilded ship of my Becoming on the eve of the New Moon. This is the feast they call the Navigation, but it is nothing less than the navigation of humankind as a child through the womb of its Mother…the sapling’s fragile branches into the body of a great tree…the seed of a man into the lineage of his progeny.
Isheru is the womb where the kernel of potential is urged into fruition, and the process of Creation becomes a distinct reality. It is the bone that contains the marrow, drawn out from the corpses of the dead by vultures and transformed into the nectar of life. For all living things are born from death, and death is the Mother of all life.
Thus am I called Mut…“Mother”…Mut…“death”. O death, my Mother! O death, the becoming of my Ka into the greatness of the Glorified, Whose forms are boundless and Whose lights guide the way for the blind. All sight begins with darkness, into which pierces the light, giving form to form and substance to shape. Its root is darkness…emptiness…what they call the Abyss of chaos.
Go down, my child, into the Waters of the Isheru, and come up again renewed with the knowledge that comes from partaking of the Mysteries. All true knowledge comes from direct experience, and the experience of Immortality is gained through the transformations of birth and death, which are known to the Gods and to all creeping creatures beneath the Sun!
O my Mother Mut, from Whose noble breast I have suckled the wisdom of the Mysteries! Cradle my desire in Your two hands, and make of me Your Lotus-Born child, Whose countenance appears again and again in His name of Khensu-Neferhotep!
In gratitude I bestow the first fruits of the Harvest, the corn and the cornflower, the grain and the beer, the bread and the vine. I waft frankincense to Heaven and shake the Sistrum before Your face, glowing with gold and shining like turquoise.
When at long last I return to the world of the Sun, my feet have been washed clean in the Waters of Renewal, and the words of my Goddess have been inscribed upon my heart. There is no outer explanation of the Mysteries that can dispel their shadows nor express their ageless wisdom. These are held firmly in the vulture’s claws of my Mistress- the One Who is the Mistress of that Crescent-Lake called Isheru.
All text copyright © 2015 Rev. Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa