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Coming From the Heart: A Conversation With Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa & Anna Applegate~ Part One

Ptahmassu Portrait

O Gods, I come forth
With my heart in my hand;
O Gods receive me!
O Ancestors, I come forth
With Your heart in my hand;
May I follow in Your footsteps!
O Gods, I summon You to receive me;
For I am the kin of my Ancestors
Among You, Whom You in the
Fields of the Blessed have received!

O Gods, I open the Gates!
O Ancestors, wide open are the Doors!
My body, the Doors.
My members, the Gates.
My feet, the Holy Path.
I come forth with my heart in my hand!

– From “The Prayer of Consecration” by Rev. Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa.

Introduction

This week I had the great pleasure of being interviewed by the sparkling and gifted Anna Applegate, Executive Editor of Isis-Seshat, the quarterly journal of the worldwide Fellowship of Isis.  Our conversation centered around the theme “Dark Nights of the Soul”, to which the current Autumn issue of Isis-Seshat is dedicated; thus I was able to tell, for the very first time, my own harrowing dark nights of the soul, which concluded with my taking formal vows as a hem-netjer or priest of the God Ptah, and the legal adoption of my Kemetic faith name.

My dialogue with Anna came at a very significant stage in the current initiations I am undertaking as part of my spiritual path, and this “looking back” to my dark nights of the soul has given me the chance to reexamine my growth and motives as a Kemetic and spiritual journeyer.  Our conversation dug deep into many issues, and some controversial, facing the Neopagan and Reconstructionist Communities today.

How do we choose to label ourselves and our beliefs?  Are Pagans and Polytheists part of the same community?  What benefit does the framework of Kemetic Reconstructionism provide to today’s Kemetics?  Is Kemetic Reconstructionism really necessary, valid?  Can the Netjeru of Kemet be approached from outside historically informed practices?  How do our Gods lead us through our dark nights of the soul?  All of these issues, and much more are explored in this powerful dialogue, which seeks to offer its readers insights into their own relationships with the ancient Gods, and a resonance with others who may be walking the very same path.  Enjoy!

About Anna Applegate

annaChicago native Rev. Anna Applegate is a pious Polytheist and spirit worker who tends to roll out a welcome mat to chthonic Powers in particular. She became active in the Chicago Fellowship of Isis community in 2002 and has also been initiated into Gardnerian Wicca, the West African religion of Ifa, and Co-Freemasonry (she is a Master Mason in good standing in the Eastern Order of International Co-Freemasonry, Sirius Lodge, No. 21). In 2012, she was legally ordained as a Fellowship of Isis Priestess dedicated to the Goddesses Nebet-Het (Nephthys), Bast, and Hekate Khthonia by the late Lady Loreon Vigne at the Temple of Isis in Geyserville, California. Anna is the founder of the Iseum of the Rekhet Akhu, whose mission is to highlight the inter-relatedness of the communities of the living and the dead and to cultivate transfigured spirits (Akhu) in human form.

Anna holds an M.A. degree in English Literature and Linguistics from Loyola University Chicago. A wordslinger-for-hire, her devotional poetry appears in the Scarlet Imprint anthologies Datura (2010) and Mandragora (2012). Her nonfiction and photography appears in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina anthology to Sekhmet entitled Daughter of the Sun (2015). Anna is honored to serve as the Executive Editor of Isis-Seshat, the quarterly journal of the worldwide Fellowship of Isis. Visit her personal blog and share in her adventures in Polytheistic Priestessing: https://amoretmortem.wordpress.com. With her fiance and fellow Hekate devotee, Daniel, she is launching a site dedicated to Hekate Khthonia and Hermes Khthonios: www.hermekate.com

Anna Applegate: I’m always excited to meet fellow devotional polytheists, whether or not they venerate the Powers of the eastern Mediterranean like I do. How did you first come to love the Neteru of Kemet?

Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa: I find that the label polytheist is pretty loaded these days…charged with a certain amount of controversy in dialogues taking place within various spiritual communities. One hears terms like ‘hard polytheist’ or ‘soft polytheist’, and there are fierce debates going back and forth as to who is who, and what can or can’t be labeled polytheism. I’ve found myself having this discussion fairly frequently in my Kemetic work, with individuals who are very concerned with just how I identify the Netjeru (Gods) and Their relationship to Netjer, deity in general.

Am I, as a self-avowed polytheist, taking the stance that the Gods are wholly unique and distinct from the Creator God…as in Their own individual personalities that are self-determined, self-governing…or do I believe that ultimately the Netjeru are different forms and/ or manifestations of one hidden supreme deity called Netjer?

I have to admit that sometimes I find these isms and debates over labels incredibly constricting, irritating, and distracting from the real work of service to the Sacred Powers. At the end of the day I put my emphasis on action, on cultic service and devotional work, not on philosophical speculation. Ultimately, the precise origins of the Gods- of any god- are beyond the comprehension of human beings. Our place is not to reason why, but to get down to the work of organizing our lives in such a way as to be of service, to the Gods and to creation as a whole.

We can waste a great deal of precious time agonizing over this issue of ism…polytheism, henotheism, is deity really one acting as the All or the many…or we can choose to simply honor the Gods as gods, as our Sacred Powers, and accept the limitations our mortality, our humanity carries in terms of how much we can ever really know deity.

That being said, we as human beings are defined by the language we use to express ourselves. There’s no getting around the significance our culture places on how we choose to label our identity, our beliefs, our lifestyle and manner of connecting with the world around us. I’m somewhat dissatisfied by the application of terms such as polytheism or henotheism to very ancient systems of belief that preexist the advent of such language or modes of thinking. To me it seems a bit out of place. I’m sure that the Ancients would have expressed it as ‘we believe in the Gods. We honor the Gods’, period. To attach a philosophical framework to that…one that comes from another time and culture…seems very misguided to me.

I believe in the Netjeru, the Goddesses and Gods of the ancient Egyptians, and I view the gods I serve as wholly distinct, unique, and individual Sacred Powers, each carrying Their own personalities, manifestations, and spheres of influence. Are They related to the Creator God, absolutely, just as human children carry on the DNA of their biological parents. However, the Gods are not hindered or limited by Their connection to the Creator God, and They are certainly not mere ornaments, names or different sides of the Creator’s personality. I accept that each of the Netjeru is broader in Their forms and powers than I can possibly comprehend, and that each of Them can be and express anything They choose to. Ultimately, the Creator God is not sole or unique or without equal, but shares its creation with the Gods.

I do not believe in god with a capital g, the one, indivisible god of the Abrahamic religions. Even though I was raised in a very traditional and strict Christian family, I have always rejected the idea that there is a single omnipotent “God” fueling and controlling creation.

So just what does this make me? I choose to stand by the terms polytheist and polytheism…and in particular Kemetic polytheism…to describe what I believe within the limitations our language imposes on us, even though terms like polytheist and polytheism are quite obviously not ancient Egyptian in origin.

How did I first come to adore the Netjeru of Kemet? I’d rather put it that They came to me, and not the other way around! My experience is that our Gods, our Sacred Powers come to us. They make Themselves known, through gestures big and small. They flirt with us, play with us…almost in a hide and seek kind of way. And I’m not intending to sound trivial here, to somehow cheapen or lessen the very powerful, life-altering ways in which our Gods make Their presences known in our lives.

But I have always found that the Gods will find a door or a window, or a crack beneath the side door, in order to introduce Themselves and get our attention. It may be through little things at first, like a picture here or a song lyric there, or a ‘coincidence’ that turns out to be nothing of the kind. Our Gods will find Their way into our life in ways They know will get our attention, and each person is different in these regards.

When I was six-years-old I found the ancient Egypt section of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and the first thing that arrested my attention were the full color images of Egyptian deities…statues and reliefs…which struck a very deep chord in me. And then there were the temples. These places did not seem foreign to me, mysterious or new, but rather like places I knew, that had once been part of my life. Even at this very young age, long before I heard terms like reincarnation or past lives, I had a definite sense, an instinct or certainty, that I had once lived in this ancient culture and had served its gods. And these gods, too, felt familiar to me, not like mythological beings from a dead religion or defunct civilization, but gods that were present and very much alive, active in the here and now.

My father was a humanities major at San Diego State University, so he maintained a very well-stocked library of books on archaeology, anthropology, ancient Near Eastern civilizations, and Classical history. It was within this armory that I first found the type of books that guided my fascination with ancient Egyptian history and religion…an obsession, really. For the first three years of that relationship with ancient Egypt, I focused my attention on the Egyptian preoccupation with the afterlife and immortality, and how the Goddesses and Gods guided this framework. My father often took me to the Museum of Man in Balboa Park, San Diego, which had a very small Egyptian collection, including two mummies.

I was quite preoccupied with what I perceived as a spiritual technology demonstrated by the mummification process, and in texts like the Pert-em-hru, the Book of Coming Forth By Day…the Book of the Dead. Of course, all I had access to in those days were the books by E.A. Wallis Budge, which even then were quite dated and full of errors; but I used Budge’s Egyptian Book of the Dead as a springboard for developing, through my own intuition, a personal relationship with Egypt’s ancient gods. I always felt guided in that relationship by many pairs of unseen hands, which seemed to always direct me to the right resources at the right time.

The catalyst for my real relationship with the Netjeru of Kemet…the one person of influence I can trace everything back to…is Lady Loreon Vigné, Arch Priestess of Isis and foundress of the California Temple of Isis. I can’t answer your question without telling how she came into my life, without giving her the credit she richly deserves.

It was about six months before my 10th birthday, and my parents and I were spending an afternoon in the shopping district of historic Old Town San Diego. We discovered a fine art atelier by the name of Dergance Sculpture Studio, which specialized in the high quality reproductions of the Tutankhamun treasures produced by Artisans Guild International. These included magnificent statues of Egyptian goddesses and gods. It goes without saying that I was in heaven, but finding this little studio was the single most important event in my life. Everything else that has happened to me in my spiritual life since can be traced back to the relationships I developed by way of Dergance Studio.

The studio was owned jointly by a delightful senior couple, Maxine and Robert Dergance, and Maxine especially was very interested in all things spiritual, being an avid student of the Occult, and a believer in reincarnation and all things esoteric. It was from my conversations with her that I first became cognizant of the deeper meanings behind my ever growing obsession with ancient Egyptian religion and funerary beliefs, and it was through her that I was introduced to Lady Loreon Vigné, who was in those days still called Lora. Maxine and Lora Vigné had apparently been friends for years, and it was through Dergance Sculpture Studio that Lora had acquired her generous collection of Egyptian statuary.

Lora Vigné and her partner Paul Ramses had established the Isis Oasis Sanctuary and Retreat Center in Geyserville, California, which was dedicated to the exploration of ancient Egyptian spirituality and Goddess consciousness. Lora and Paul were legally ordained ministers of the Goddess Isis, and part of their mission was to reintroduce the ancient worship of Isis into the modern age.

Maxine urged me to write to Lora Vigné, and the rest, as they say, is history. Lora and Paul immediately took me under their wings, helping me to develop a serious attitude in my studies of Egyptian history and religion, but also to begin an investigation into broader areas of spirituality and Occultism in general. Something that I always admired about Lady Loreon was her capacity to push the boundaries of her own beliefs and practices, to never grow into a rigid or dogmatic pattern of thinking.

Loreon was a student of all the world’s religions and spiritual customs, and she really dove head first into everything she could get her hands on. Her appetite for research and reading was boundless, and these are attitudes she strove to pass on to me when we first became acquainted. Both she and Paul sent me countless books, not only on ancient Egyptian history and religion, but also in esoteric studies and general spirituality.

Lora had founded the Isis Society For Inspirational Studies, her first non profit educational organization, into which I was inducted around the time of my 10th birthday. Even at that very early stage, I believe that Lora and Paul had it in mind to see me eventually ordained as a minister of the Isian faith. It was certainly due to their generous tutelage that my obsession with the Goddesses and Gods of Egypt developed into a heartfelt devotion and sense of service. The Goddess Auset, or Isis, was guiding me through my close relationship with Lora Vigné and Paul Ramses. I’d say it was inevitable that I took the holy mantle as a Priest of the Goddess.

Continue reading “Coming From the Heart: A Conversation With Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa & Anna Applegate~ Part One”

Amun-Ra of Myrrh / Lead Me To Your Tree

Amun-Ra of Myrrh

I heard the call of myrrh from a lonely sky;
a tree of scented breath upon which the Gods ride,
sending out a divine cloud to bring me in;
a ba-soul of the Hidden One to soothe my wandering senses.

The myrrh tree fills my head with lofty sight,
with visions that spring from a well I thought buried;
but a cloud of intoxicating sky chased my eyes,
and He was the Lord of Winds pulling the earth in.

His Ram-Soul made a noise across the sky
like a trumpet blaring in the full light of day;
though it was night His flame caught my eyes and ears,
and with sky-clad lips He drew me to His sacred boughs.

Amun-Ra of myrrh and dust of gold,
concealed in plain sight where my senses find You;
by dawn Your sky-tree burns to scent the heavens,
and at nightfall enchants the earth with stellar fingers.

Eyes, lips, and hands doused in myrrh of the heights;
His skin seeks out every sense with its power,
and I am taken deep into waters of lapis-lazuli;
with perception as a boat I traverse His potent waters.

Tree above these waters I enter, make me a home;
within your boughs and branches hold a swallow,
who alights as this ba-soul of my keeping;
and let him drink that lapis water of sacred ground and vault.

Swallow of copper and gold, hawk of obsidian eye,
come down from Your branches to tell me the way;
for there is a road sweeping through the ordered stars,
being the Hidden One’s edict for my traveling soul.

Amun-Ra You have called me out of the earth
which held me like a sleeping stone;
with open mouth Your breath becomes my guide,
and You lead me to Your tree of starry myrrh in the sky.

I heard the call of the Gods from the eternal sky,
who bring the two regions together with stellar hands;
the Earth in His solitude, the Heavens in Her joy;
theirs is a union traveled by the ages of souls.

Let me be among those who travel the far reaches,
with breath of myrrh and wings of the morning swallow;
and may those Gods who summon the wind hear me
as I make my twilight cries across the wandering veil.

Beholding Your sacred tree on the evening horizon,
I step beneath branches that hold Ancestral souls;
these are mine in light or darkness,
the scent of generations my open mouth sends out.

Amun-Ra of myrrh and dust of stars,
revealed in hidden sight where my ba-soul finds You;
by dawn Your sky-tree burns to scent the heavens,
and at nightfall enchants the earth with stellar fingers.

All text copyright © 2016 Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

Hearer of Prayers

Hearer of Prayers

O Ptah Who Hears Prayers,
Benevolent of Countenance
Whose ears remain open;
You are the Great Eye
Seeing my heart’s vessel,
And it is to You that I call out
When my heart is in sorrow.
Yours is a shrine ever open;
Yours are ears ever merciful
To those who are oppressed;
Yours is the living flame
Rending the veil of darkness,
The Sun passing through the Underworld.
O King of Gods, Lord of the Great Throne,
Tatenen of millions of names,
Hear my prayers and shine Your mercy
On my sufferings;
Be the light of my dark hours,
And may my heart be Your shrine.
Homage to You O Ptah in the Soul-Mansion,
The Hearer of Prayers Who is Lord of the Sky!

My Tomb Is On This Shore

My Tomb Is On This Shore

My tomb is on this shore,
in the place where the earth is swallowed by the sky;
His nakedness is covered by Her imperishable stars
for the eyes of swallows ascending the western vault.
And my nakedness?
His loins are awakened by the flowers of the sky;
beaten gold and ruddy copper flash as His girdle,
growing from a garden the hands of the Gods have planted;
cornflower and lotus unfurling their bright petals,
lighting a lamp before him
in the darkness of the desert’s edge.

I call on the Lord of the Rivers
to meet me by the water’s mouth;
Sebek Who is in the Water,
the Great Crocodile beautiful of forms;
who tears the sky with His double plumes,
appearing in the east as the Lord of Bakhu-Mountain.
This mountain is my destination, the sky rent above its peak;
and it is this crocodile of flashing white teeth
who makes a gap for my wings to enter.

My tomb is on this shore,
at the junction between the earth and sky;
He beholds the entourage of jabirus dancing
in their pilgrimage through that torn and glimmering veil.
And my pilgrimage?
His dance is the ascension of lamps in heaven’s lap,
whose yawning places him at the gate of a stellar home;
the tireless stars of generations hailing,
making of their song a guide for the wings of souls.
I answer when my ears of twilight are opened,
and my mouth breathes the breath the crocodile has woven.

I call on that Crocodile great of terror
to meet me by the desert’s mouth;
Sebek Who is Ruler of the Desert Edge,
whose teeth and claws reveal the flashing of the sun;
He coming on the dark waters to predict light,
crossing waterways as the sky flees His shadow.
These waterways are my destination, this Shadow my guide;
and I am brought up by the One Who Flies to the Skies,
who makes the starry vault a road for my wings.

My tomb is on this shore
in the place where the earth gives way to the sky;
His nakedness is revealed as the pathway of stars
for the eyes of herons rising on the eastern ladder.
And my nakedness?
His brow is crowned by the crest of the sky;
striking flame and sun’s eye are His mantle,
shooting forth from a horizon the Gods have opened;
thigh of bull and crocodile’s tail unveil their power,
lighting a lamp before Him
in the darkness of the sky’s edge.

All text copyright © 2016 Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

Ateruw / I Will Never Let Them Go

Ateruw

They glide past my eyes on either side,
these jewels the Gods dropped one by one
into the floodwaters;
the finest gold, turquoise, and malachite,
catching the sun’s hands by the tips of their fingers;
these jewels the Gods dropped one by one
into the river they love.

I have loved, too, as I dropped my body for you,
wrapped in dazzling white linen
on the breath of a festival day;
taking to the waters that drew near to kiss me,
as I imagined your skin drawing near in perfection.
Ateruw is the name of this flood that knows my name,
gliding past my eyes on either side.

I could tell the eyes of the sky
that the Earth-God has summoned me;
His arms flashing with turquoise,
His limbs of burnished gold making a mirror of my skin;
but my hands caught the river
in their eager net of flesh,
with kisses and devotion sliding beneath his surface.

They glide past my eyes on either side,
these prayers my lips have woven one by one;
into the flood they have slipped with desire,
to flash beneath the surface for my hungry net.
Rosy gold and most holy stone have dropped from my sight,
their words of value still singing to my ears;
and I will never let them go, once their song has faded.

I have sung songs the sacred river knows,
wrapped in heady myrrh on a festival day.
Their words catch the Gods in a net of perfume,
carried on sandalwood with jasmine flowers in bloom.
They are the jewels that draw near in perfection,
as other voices slip through the holes my net leaves;
and I will never let them go, once their time has ended.

I could tell the ears of the river
that the Sky-Goddess has summoned me;
Her thighs embraced by a canopy of stars,
Her golden breasts full for my hungry lips;
but my hands caught the clouds
in their quick net of lust,
with my spirit and intentions lost beneath his surface.

They glide past my eyes on either side,
these flowers the Gods dropped one by one
into their earthly garden;
carnelian, jasper, and real lapis lazuli,
catching the breath of the sky by the tip of Her tongue;
these jewels the Gods have let slip by me,
one by one into the river they love.

I have loved, too, as I dropped my shadow for you,
wrapped in a heart of fiery red stone
on the glare of a midsummer day;
taking to the holy sycamore that drew near to kiss me,
as I imagined your soul drawing near in perfection.
Ateruw is the name of this vessel that holds me,
gliding past my eyes on either side.

I could tell the lips of the earth
that the Gods have summoned me;
their souls of turquoise like flames rising high,
their wings of lapis lazuli holding the sun in His mirror;
but my hands caught the western mountains
in their net of flesh and bone,
with my heart and shadow lost beneath his surface.

I have held the jewels the Gods once held,
wrapped in their mysteries
on the skin of a festival day;
taking to the waters that slip by the net of my eyes,
tempting my hands with perfection as they draw near.
They are the words my soul’s ears will always hear,
and I will never let them go, once my heart has mended.

All text copyright © 2016 Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

Sacred Verses (38): Meeting At the Gates

Meeting At the Gates.JPG

There is a meeting at the gates
where I walk in the company of the rain;
the sky is written upon his body
as he falls to the thirsty earth below;
my earth that drinks him deeply,
that finds consolation in his lofty messages;
my earth that needs the kisses
of that place behind the veil;
my earth that gathers all the sky sends,
to hold it for my meeting at the gates.

There is a meeting at the gates
where I dance in the company of the desert;
the wind is written upon his body
as he shifts across his barren kingdom;
my kingdom of the spirit lifted
above the flesh and bones he knows;
my kingdom twined with cliff and stone,
opening for the tips of these etheric wings;
my kingdom of unceasing air
that holds the spaces for my meeting at the gates.

There is a meeting at the gates
where I dress in the company of the sun;
pure gold is written upon his body
as he travels through the shadowy sky below;
my sky that spreads her body for him,
that receives the tokens of life he gives;
my sky that wears the messages
of those stars above the veil;
my sky that reads the wandering bodies,
and holds their maps for my meeting at the gates.

There is a meeting at the gates
where I fly in the company of swallows;
messages of the sky are written upon their bodies
as they travel to and fro between the worlds;
my worlds of earth and air
between which the Gods are known;
my worlds within this skin and bones,
growing from my soil like a tree;
my worlds that keep my secret deeds
until they fly forth for my meeting at the gates.

There is a meeting at the gates
where I awake in the company of jabirus;
the Gods are written upon their wings
as they break the silence of the twilight hour;
my hour of shattering the dusky veil
rising between my corpse and soul;
my hour of hearing the message of stars,
calling through the doors of that secret world;
my hour of kindling the fire within my bones
as it lights my way for my meeting at the gates.

There is a meeting at the gates
where I make love in the company of a heron;
my heart is written upon his gleaming breast
as he rises above me to open my eyes;
my eyes that know the horizons of the sky
between which the sun dances his seasons;
my eyes that see the spirits who know me,
riding high on their western peak;
my eyes that foretell the beating of my heart
that holds the rhythm for my meeting at the gates.

There is a meeting at the gates
where I swim in the company of a sacred lotus;
my future is written upon his sky-blue petals
as he opens in the waters to herald the dawn;
my dawn wearing the embrace of myrrh
as he spreads through the arms of his sky;
my dawn wearing a mantle of fine gold,
predicting midday fire above his watery veil;
my dawn that finds its hidden light shining
beyond the shadows for my meeting at the gates.

There is a meeting at the gates
where I pass through in the company of the Gods;
my soul is written upon their faces of the sky
as they rise through the worlds on their ladder;
my ladder that breaks the darkness of the vault
as it receives the wings of those sacred spirits;
my ladder that stretches between the worlds,
lifting my name high above my worldly bones;
my ladder that speaks the names of those Gods
that hold my life for my meeting at the gates.

All text copyright © 2016 Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

Sacred Verses (35): What Do You Hear / I Hear the Gods

What Do You Hear

What do you hear in that hour they call twilight;
stars that have overcome the horizon
with cloaks of blue and gold,
who in their luminescent hands hold
the departed spirits of the earth below;
they reach your ears with messages from the sky,
opening the doors we enter when we die;
they have for ears and eyes the patterns
of souls rising for the dance,
beheld by the earth in silent awe.

I hear the Gods who weave their twilight home;
the gold that beckons eyes to horizon’s fire,
her breast pointed high to clasp spirit’s wings;
they who reach the crimson-painted clouds,
before the darkness finds them
to blanket their ascent.
These mysteries show their colors to my eyes,
as I watch for the spirits who come to claim the skies.

What do you hear when the sycamore sways;
the past who in his fingers holds
the lovers who have scratched their names
on your breast of gold;
with a silver mirror to dress your eyes,
and a shadow of copper where your spirit flies.
He is a past of gilded fabric,
whose shimmer rekindles yesterday in his garden;
of trees that count your forgotten years,
when dusky soil has taken your flesh and tears.

I hear the Gods who have woven the earth;
by their hands of gold and brow of stars,
who came before the green beneath us grew;
with their language of sparrow and morning star,
upon whose breezes the waters of beginning stirred.
I find in the mountains the stone and metals of their tongue,
speaking clear to the coming dawn;
she parts her veil for the arousal of those peaks,
whose lips seek a turquoise embrace
from that mouth into which he speaks.

What do you hear when the cornflower opens;
the thread of life calling from the mantle of the dead,
where flesh and bone are buried
with a wreath upon his head;
your lover called youth and time,
endless it seems by dawn;
standing green with spring’s fair blooms,
until by dusk they are gone.
I knew him to be a swallow on the air
who carried me to pasture, to orchard and home;
this wreath of sky-blue flowers on my brow,
whose beauty like daybreak was destined to roam.

I hear the Gods as they dance in their orchards;
trees of myrrh who commune with the acacia,
of ancient leaves and boughs;
they break open the sky with their ageless stories,
with fruit that speaks a stellar tongue.
This language is the memory of many
before the one came;
she tells the fruit of legions
before his jealous claim.
I read with open eyes and hear with open ears
the music of the sky that reckons
the memory of myriad years.

What do you hear when your soul flies;
your wings calling the winds their home,
above the place where mountains open their peaks;
where he catches the gaze of the west as it sees,
as the voice of the vault clearly speaks.
Is this where you find your flesh and your bones,
renewed in a western shrine;
where before you have gone the dreams of living men,
taken as lovers by time.
This place where go the feet of dreams
with lovers on his brow,
we call the thighs of sacred death
before whom our dreams bow.

I hear the Gods in their shrine called memory,
from whose breast the ancient tongues are nourished;
with their skies and trees and myriad fields
traversed by the wings of their stellar spirits.
This is where we go when the hour called twilight ripens,
when she reaches out her hand
to take back the dust of her ages.

This is where I go when my flesh tires of bone;
and these are the Gods who meet me with gold
when the dusky veil opens to welcome me home.
I hear with open ears and see with open eyes
the chanting of the fields where death’s mantle unravels;
I hear with open ears and see with open eyes
the courses of many that govern life’s travels,
by whose hands the earth meets the skies.

All text copyright © 2016 Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

Sacred Verses (37): May the Gods Open A Door

May the Gods Open A Door

I awake to a life hidden
behind the world’s dusky veil;
she finds me as my mother,
rising up between her loins of celestial metal.
What finds me is our cavern of beginnings,
where swim the wings of souls;
what finds me is our lake in the nether sky,
where fly the shadows charged by heaven’s breast.
May the Gods open a door
for the passage of my solar wings;
may the Gods open a door
for the breath my mother sings.

My eyes tread the courses of the stars
untiring in their house of north;
in this direction I am taken by them
to the region where horizons gaze;
to behold our bodies glittering
with skins of gold and precious stone.
I am open in the direction of the ever-rising sun,
with brows of lapis lazuli curving on heaven’s crown.
May the Gods open the sky
for my flesh of stellar design;
may the Gods open the sky
for these shining wings of mine.

It is from the soil I swell with malachite presence,
my naked feet known to the sacral ground below;
he knows my seed of green
from which his mighty sycamore has grown;
he knows my heady scent of myrrh
from which his power is sewn.
I now behold green jasper, inhale breath of myrrh;
knowing the seeds of tomorrow, and all the seeds that were.
May the Gods open the earth
for my feet of stone and seed;
may the Gods open the earth
for these feet to take their lead.

I have come on voice of sky,
upon celestial breath;
he recounts the moment of my birth;
his open arms take my death;
he has given his hallows beneath ancient trees,
whose branches foretell my years with seeing leaves.
I come to receive a mantle of stone,
alighting as a swallow in the boughs I call home.
May the Gods open a field
for my wings as they grow;
May the Gods open a field
for my enchantments that flow.

Now I come to a river of luminous spirit
spreading the loins of the eastern horizon.
She is a flower in the river of the sky,
opening her wet petals for my loins as they fly;
she is a mother of gleaming turquoise breast,
holding the sun tightly in her woven gold nest.
I am now wet as the day I was born,
reared on milk of sky, fresh on the breast of morning.
May the Gods open a lotus
for my face of youthful power;
may the Gods open a lotus
for my mirror of the dawning hour.

I came from the cleft of my mother,
from the seed my father spilled;
hers is the sacred cavern
from manhood of earth being filled.
His are the eyes that see me spring
at sacred daybreak on his bank;
hers are the lips the sun hears sing
when I ascend her gilded flank.
May the Gods open a body
for my wings to take their flight;
may the Gods open a body
for my dawn and star by night.

My skin recalls his bones when morning comes,
and when night falls he hears the summons of his blood;
these the fragile gifts of earth,
the sacral river and her mud.
I swim with the sky as the east is born,
and by the west I travel as his daylight is shorn.
The feet that move me are of earth, of tree and holy peak;
the arms that keep me are of sky, the mansion earth’s eyes seek.
May the Gods open a soul
for these bones to open their way;
may the Gods open a soul
for my coming forth by day.

All text copyright © 2016 Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

Sacred Verses (33): I Walk With Spirits

I Walk With Spirits

I walk with the desert;
he is the red land of my sorrow and regret,
clinging to my feet as the sand of ages past;
he stretches out not as a lover,
but as a debtor demanding recompense.
My sky takes me by the hand in the face of those sands,
and on the distant horizon I behold the mirror of water;
she is the mother of my new life, waiting;
so I have come back to the place where my feet began.

I walk with the trees,
remembering the yew of my boyhood,
whose words of the future heralded my past;
to be reborn through memory would be my mountain to climb.
He has boughs of yesterday and leaves of tomorrow,
my yew who keeps our past and remembers our future;
older than the vault of the sky, his prophecies hold our beginning.
Through him I recall the breath of myrrh, the Sacred Ones who travel;
they are the Gods who offered me my lungs, who gave me the Ancestral breath.
He is the father of my new memory, enduring;
so I have come back to the place where my history began.

I walk with the river;
she rushes over my feet to find me my spirit,
who travels along the watery road where life and death mingle.
Has she swallowed the crocodiles that wait in the darkness,
my pains of sharp teeth who surface to remind me;
or has she drowned them, those sorrows of impenetrable scales,
my boyhood and wayward youth who hunger to surface.
But I will not find them, not in the shallows where the lotus rises;
he pushes up his face from the mud to drink the golden light.
This is what spirits do when they find darkness,
and this is what my spirit becomes when first light catches his eyes.
He is the lotus that came from my beginning, opening;
so I have come back to where my spirit began.

I walk with my body,
who carries the scars of my mother and father upon him;
for we all wear our history like clothes,
putting some on with relish and discarding others;
how my wardrobe has ransomed my heart for their promises.
I had the scarf of youth and the boots of pleasure,
now worn out like my hands, who carry my heart in thin fingers.
I will not now count the brilliant fabrics I possessed,
now that my body moves sky-clad beneath a mantle of stars;
for this is where I came from, and where you who read me were born.
My stars take me by the fingers and lead me to sky’s shelter;
she is the lapis womb whose waters receive me, swimming;
so I have come back to where my flesh began.

I walk with my lovers;
they give me their manhood and mine, their skin and consolation.
I have had them by moonlight, where my lips taste ivory beams;
I have had them by daybreak, where the sun strikes naked thighs with gold.
I have heard the promises of sages warning of the flesh;
where are their bones now?
I have listened to the sacral threats of ages;
have their fears ever shown us how?
Now I take you with me, all you lovers from my bed;
in memory you live again, on lips and breath and kisses.
You have taught me how precious a gift life is;
shorter than twilight, and sweeter than vain promises or threats.
You are the thighs my spirit enters, renewing;
so I have come back to where my heart began.

I walk with my heart,
gleaming even after nightfall as a stone of sanguine carnelian;
he holds the sun between his lips even after sundown.
He has been lost in a bramble where my hopes found him,
as all hearts are found even when shade takes them.
Shade, you are a gale in the hands of time,
but you make the heart endure with its fragile light;
it is light that bends like a sapling, yet withstands the gale of experience.
Now I imbibe the wind at my back, tasting what life has given me;
and it is still life as it pours from one vessel to another.
He is the container of the sun in which I set, rising;
so I have come back to where my light began.

I walk with swallows,
those little birds of great flight who soar over seas;
their untiring wings find me wherever I wander.
Give me your cloaks of lapis lazuli, your hood of blood red;
and give me your morning call to summon the potent sun.
Yours is the language of time’s beginning where men are made;
yours is sight of sunbeams upheld by wings of shade.
I open my body to let my spirit fly with you;
and this is where we all travel once our skins are shed.
You are the voices of earth that mingle with heaven, flying;
so I have come back to where my speech began.

I walk with the dead;
they came before me with the rising sun,
and they departed when the song of eventide ended.
They are my mothers and my fathers, my conscience and memory;
I remember we came from many, no matter how the one howls.
It is the Ancestors who keep me in the language of their names;
their names are the warp and weft from which our future weaves.
I make my heart a libation from which my past drinks,
while my future is a stream of memories pouring from history’s bones.
I open my memory to let my body become you;
and this is where we multiply once we set our memory free.
You are the ages past from where I hail, living;
so I have come back to where my future began.

I walk with spirits,
who pass through the doors of flesh and bone,
who know where the earth meets the sky;
they know the caverns in the ever-standing mountains,
the portals of imperishable stars flashing.
Their river is a road in the nether sky, where wings of sparrows tread;
they make of the earth a memory, and from sky they make a bed.
How soft their whisper in half-forgotten words, I hear with open heart;
how our past comes calling when our spirit makes a start.
My shadow takes my fingers and leads me to a door;
the earth becomes my lintel as the sky becomes my floor.
You are the memory of me time keeps, returning;
so I have come back to where my travels began.

I walk with the Gods;
they came before us with the rising waters,
and they have never departed, even as our memory faded.
They are our mothers and fathers, our beginning and our end;
and I remember we came from many, no matter how the one howls.
You found me when I was naked on the other shore;
your doors in the sky you opened, where my feet of the earth could drink.
The desert of my memory becomes a field of turquoise,
where the sycamore and tamarisk hold the florid sky.
I am the memory of leaves and branches glistening in the green;
now the sparrows find me as a home for the weary vault.
Come Gods, you stellar wings of earth and sky;
lift up my bones of memory where stars make bright their doors.
I open up my body to let my memory become you;
and this is where immortality finds us once we set our memory free.
You are creation’s waters where spirits hail, ascending;
so I have come back to where my soul began.

All text copyright © 2016 Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

Stronger Than the Current / Beautiful Crocodile

Stronger Than the Current

When the holy river comes for me
he is a raging nest of crocodiles in my path;
what light the stars shone was consumed
by their cavernous bellies;
the stars of the north which rose for me;
the Bull’s Thigh which sent me a ladder,
glinting upon my lapis horizon;
a torch which showered molten gold upon my feet.
These are the treasures the sky gave me,
dressed in their luminous mantle;
and I too wore that cloak of stars on my shoulders,
until the river came with his terrors.

This flood pulls down the horizon from my brow,
coming down from between the mountains to take me.
In his wet hands like a lover I fall,
opening my heart to be devoured by the depths;
but this heart of mine is stronger than the current,
a stone of malachite with his flint edge.

Beautiful crocodile, I taste your bite and inhale your savor,
your gold, and your carnelian eyes;
you bring me my death, and I bring you my smile;
for this body you take is not the one in which I travel.
Beautiful crocodile, I take your bite for a lover,
and my heart grows back as a malachite stone.
These are the treasures the dark flood has given me,
what create or destroy the passions of men.

When your holy body comes for me
he is a torch of fragrant cedar in the arms of the wind;
his navel of electrum shines through the veil
twilight brings with his whisper.
I am confounded by your myrrh worn like a garland;
I am suspended from your neck as a chain of gold;
and who seeks me out but a heart of malachite
with his flint edge,
that beautiful crocodile with his ecstatic bite.
A stream of moonlight shone from my hand,
drawn from your stellar skin I had by heaven’s gaze;
these are the treasures the earth gave me,
stripped of his dusky mantle;
and I too wore that cloak of moonlight on my shoulders,
until the sun came with his commands.

Beautiful crocodile, I wear your skin and know your scales,
your teeth, and your potent aura;
you bring me my second life, and I bring you my power;
for this heart you take is not the one in which I travel.
Beautiful crocodile, I take your flesh for a lover,
and my will grows back as a malachite stone.
These are the treasures the dark night has given me,
what create or destroy the futures of men.

When the holy flood returns for me
he is a shady sycamore in my path;
what light the stars shine is sheltered in his branches;
the northern stars that rise for my brow,
the Bull’s Thigh that opens my eyes;
the heron of luminous crest
surpassing twilight’s grasp;
a torch of fine gold appearing in east’s mirror,
whose gaze falls upon my feet ascending.
These are the treasures the sky gives me,
dressed in their eternal mantle;
and I too wear that cloak of stars on my shoulders,
until the river comes with his darkness.

This flood brings up the horizon to my brow,
rushing up from between his thighs to take me.
In his wet hands like a lover I fall,
opening my heart to be devoured by the depths;
but this heart of mine is stronger than the current,
a stone of malachite with his flint edge.

Beautiful crocodile, I taste your vigor and inhale your desire,
your turquoise, and your thighs of gold;
you bring me my life, and I bring you my vessel;
for this body you take is not the one in which I travel.
Beautiful crocodile, I take your soul for a lover,
and my heart grows back as a malachite stone.
These are the treasures the dark flood has given me,
what create or destroy the eternities of men.

All text copyright © 2016 Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa