He Prays to Set By Night

Set Stela

My beloved is pious when the river floods;
a trail of myrrh following in his footsteps.
Am I a god’s servant then, adhering to those tamarisk feet?
I wait for his boons to rise high on the sacred waters.

My beloved embraces the Gods at the three seasons of the day.
He prays to Amun in the morning; his heart becomes hidden.
He prays to Ptah in the afternoon; his hands absorbed in their labors;
but he prays to Set by night, when his exploits provoke the blazing of stars.

Come with your lamplight to a shrine made ready by the six-day moon;
its myrrh is succor to desert-wearied skin.
This is the royal body of Khensu-Neferhotep, cradled in the lap of stars;
his essence of lotus drawing out prayers from fervent lips.

In the morning your prayers summon the ardor of the Sun-God;
when high noon comes the ears of Ptah imbibe your supplications;
at eventide Set whose passions are roused makes of your tongue His arrow.
My heart becomes the footstool of the Gods, uplifting your unclad toes.

Let the Gods who process the gilt constellations open oracular mouths.
Lord Amun completes His moment when He rises on His mound;
Ptah who is south of His wall encircles the sky as its sunlit master;
Set the raging rules the Red Land with His mighty hand.

Is it your Amun who by morning’s light draws back the dusky veil?
Is it Ptah who opens the lotus on the waters revealing the naked sun?
Is it Set’s fist that governs the bow by which the northern sky is rent?
You answer these with a priest’s devotion as you draw back the bedclothes.

Amun-Ra young bull with sharp horns whose brow knows heaven’s light;
your right eye illumines the earth by day, your left to shine by night.
Adoration of Amun whose skin of gold alights upon His mound;
where darkness clothes the empty waters your hidden light is found.

O Ptah Lord of the Sky whose hearing ear opens south of His walls;
yours are the ears of the midday sun, and those when eventide calls.
May acclaim be yours O beautiful of face who knows the ancient earth;
your two hands move the waters in darkness to give their lotus birth.

Praise of Setesh Lord of Might by whose hand the bow is drawn;
by night who smites the rebel-serpent and with red fist raises dawn.
The Red Land drinks your fury when by storm your voice is known;
the Ark of Ra declares your prowess by twilight where it is shown.

O Gods your footfall knows the shrine of my heart left open to the sky;
whose lapis veil finds me enveloped in myrrh to await the flood.
He comes with full lips immersed in prayer to honor the six-day feast;
whose prophecy declares the filling of the eye high in the lapis vault.

How date palms ride the hot breath of flood season looming at my door;
held open for the passage of gods carried by your devoted mouth.
Stir a breeze for me with praying lips sweet with tamarisk honey;
a flood of their own upon which gods sail during every holy season.

My beloved is pious when his river floods;
he brings three gods with devoted hands.
His body carries the mark of their favors;
boons which multiply as he sheds his royal linen.

My beloved embraces the Gods as the Two Lands know their seasons.
He prays to Amun in the morning; his hidden heart is flooded.
He prays to Ptah in the afternoon; his hands are the leaders of craftsmen;
but he prays to Set by night, when his lover’s deeds fill the Gods with wonder.

All text copyright © 2016 Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

Who Comes When Desert Howls

Who Comes When Desert Howls

Alone and without the mantle of the sky,
do my feet dig up the earth beneath the earth;
the cavern where bereft souls are seen to wander,
robbed of the Black Land and its gemstones of blue and green.

What goddess flares above my brow stripped of the moon’s fingers;
his beams do not find her nor does the morning star know her.
Here glowers the veil of sundown devoid of the sun;
where come the lonely bau-souls to await his noble passage.

By day I have crossed the Red Land in search of tamarisk memories;
how intoxicating an evening spent in the company of her branches.
The myrrh of earth’s celestial lady sought me out in my haze of joy;
life that summons the Gods to yearn for mortal breath never taken.

The Gods of the vault never tarry in flesh with starlight for a home;
their vessels of gold never knowing the void of existence without form;
yet their immortal endurance has never made the love that I have made;
their gilded rise as imperishable stars never savor where I have stayed.

In desert’s tempestuous voice I hear the Red One’s rage when he calls;
having wounded the Celestial Eye, his passage makes the sands seethe.
How the green days flee his footfall and the mountains hail his rancor;
their unbending spires endure as the green land meets its grave.

Blue of lapis you cannot meet my eyes nor taste my lips yearning;
green of turquoise cannot kiss my naked toes or clothe my ravenous heart.
Tamarisk and sycamore, your language has no words for my choked ears;
even the willow’s melancholy lips would be invited if I could hear.

Sunrise has no mantle for my loins which carry grave’s clinging veil;
shall the Sun-God’s eyes seek me out in dark hallows of mountain’s keep.
Blue-black shroud you confound my brow bereft of its pure gold;
my diadem of stars seeking other horizons to share its generous lights.

Does beauty find the eyes of the blind or music deafened ears?
My life has left its footsteps in the sand of its fragile years.
Regret you are my comfort in the place of willow’s hands;
the love I have made now fades behind me like those turquoise lands.

Age you have uncovered me when I hid in sweet blue waters;
the flood of youth was fast as it swelled the pride of my thighs.
Can I carry your sweetness in my arms or veil you in my heart;
where its ancient vessel remains unfilled amidst the burning sands.

I have held my ba-soul in arms stripped bare, its wings feebly clinging;
listening to its muted cries like those of a swallow snared in a net.
My enchantments deserted me with my youthful heart;
both tangled in the net of age which knows no remedy or master.

But in my keep I have a name unknown to age or desert’s ears;
before this life became my mother it followed on my heels.
No net can snare my secret name which sails above the wind;
he comes whenever I call him, and knows his hidden power.

Body I do not need you in land of red or green;
youth clinging to what it knows and mind to that unseen.
Let Gods find me journeying in the land where mountain scowls;
where my name travels fast as one who comes when desert howls.

All text copyright © 2016 Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

Red Set

Red Set

Red is the color of my true love’s hair;
it sweetens the night with the full strength of the moon,
rising in a dark sky to take his place as ruler of heaven.
Red is the color of my true love’s hair.

He has come down from the north wearing a crown of stars;
I behold other virtues that excel the desert mountains which pierce the firmament.
O Lord of Gold let me see you by lamplight, your strong shadow extended;
to behold the length of your loins striking against the northern sky.

Red is the color of my true love’s hair;
scented with a cloud of myrrh whose storm overcomes my reason.
When the thunder of a drum pounds through the sky,
I wait for the lightning that fills my bed with exhilarating fire.

Why should I hound my heart with reassurances of safety,
when the red net of his hair thrills a heart seeking danger?
All day and all night he fastens his net about my bare neck;
and who yearns for liberation when he can find freedom in restraint?

My brother has a bow of triple strength drawn back against the sky;
I place myself beneath its aim to accommodate his danger.
My lord’s aim is of high renown, a marksman of unfailing virtue;
and when he brings his virtue home how fall the constellations.

Red is the color of my true love’s hair,
who comes from the north clad only in gold to challenge the sun.
When night possesses the Two Lands he wields control of the moon;
its ivory embrace seeking sun-charged thighs from which the shadows flee.

Red Set whose mighty arm is most feared among the Gods;
a club with stellar potency from whose aim goddesses take flight.
His is the vigor of that falcon’s wings riding high upon the gale;
a storm of terrible delight when it tears the delicate bedclothes of the sky.

How I have been torn when in his storm I find myself entangled;
with red hair knotted about my waist, I am defeated by a sailor of the sky.
He stands tall in the barque of the sun with stride spanning vault’s
hallowed lights;
by night he commands the river of the sky from between those long legs striding.

My true love’s hair is lustrous and red like that of the Lord of the Wind;
his call by day is a tempest at play over the red sands churning.
His call by night is a red hawk in flight with wings that cut the air;
a panther between my legs with his prey that sets the bedclothes burning.

Red is the color of my true love’s hair when he appears by lamplight;
bringing with him the full moon at his back and noble stars in front.
Two globes of light swinging low I swallow with hungry lips;
lapis sky sees me drink the Milky Way when it shatters between his hips.

Red Set is my ally when twilight falls and my restless heart is hunting;
my lord has woven a net round my heart in whose tangles men find their virtue.
Who are they to make supplications of chastity when they are held by red desire?
Ask the dead how their purity availed them when the grave at last came calling.

I hear a titter from your heart locked securely against my intentions;
but the man who scoffs shall drink red wine from the palm of my hot hand.
Red Set shall bend your handsome back for me just like a bow;
his net will bind your heart to shoot fast with inexhaustible arrow.

Red Set has brought your scent to my bed diffusing as myrrh of heaven;
my body wet with your fresh sweat gives me the savor of a priest in service.
How devout I have been this night with your prayers upon my open lips;
and how sweet in my nostrils is the divine fragrance of your vanquishment.

Red is the color of my true love’s hair;
it brings by night the moon’s full light crowning the sphere of heaven.
His name rings the same as that Lord of Might to whom the skies
in exhaustion bow.
Red is the color of my true love’s hair.

All text copyright © 2016 Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

A Goddess Great of Heart


Sekhmet the Eye of Ra, the Great Goddess, Mistress of Heaven, Great of Slaughter, She Who Heals. The Goddess Sekhmet manifests in ways that seem to contradict or work against one another. This is a Goddess Who nearly ended the human race, Who relished the blood and carnage of Her victims, Who seeks vengeance when the Gods are dishonored. Her Seven Arrows are the plagues, storms, waves of searing heat, and terror of death. We cannot come before Her with anything other than awe, reverence, and respectful fear. How do we embrace Her, love Her? More importantly, why would we?

There are difficult Netjeru, like Sutekh ( Setesh, Set), Who at first appear to go very much against the grain of our human sensibilities. We want our Gods to be beautiful, tender, generous, strong, but not out of control. But that is precisely what the Netjeru ultimately are. They are Gods, and we are humans. They are the Eternal, and we are subject to the whims of immediate mortality. Gods like Sekhmet and Sutekh terrify us because we know, deep down in our gut, that They bring us the very face of REALITY, without candy coating or sweetness. They bring us our medicine, and They make us swallow it, without a spoonful of sugar!

Sekhmet is the merit or “beloved”, “spouse” of the Creator Ptah, and this seems at first a very strange match. Lord Ptah, for all intents and purposes, is a benevolent creator-god Who hears our prayers and watches over craftspeople and the arts. He’s kindly, “benevolent of countenance” (wen-nefer her); so, why Sekhmet? Beyond the academic approach of how cults and deities intermingle, we can see, if we actually engage Sekhmet, that Lord Ptah chose Her, quite wisely, because Sekhmet is the most dynamic Goddess Whose very embodiment is the sekhem or vital power through which creation can evolve. Sekhmet is the necessary ingredient within the creative process, which always begins with a certain explosiveness or violence. Think of the pain of childbirth, yet its ultimate joyous conclusion. Sekhmet IS the pain of violent contractions and the hand that tears life from the flesh…She is the process of beginnings.

Sekhmet watches over the processes that impact our mortal condition the most, thus She is the Patroness of physicians and healing. But She is also the Physician of the heart. She gives the boon (hetep) of peace (hetep) at the time of trauma, even if She uses that trauma ultimately to our benefit. This is what Gods like Sekhmet and Sutekh really do, so how can we NOT embrace Them, fully and deeply, and give Them our sincere respect?

The terrible presence of Sekhmet is only caused by our fear of our own mortality, and the fire of our mind and emotions, and our ego, running out of control. Sekhmet threatens to tame and harness these forces for our own good, and that is why we can also call Her the Good Goddess. She is good, beautiful, and necessary, the Goddess Who appears when we need to take the right kind of medicine, even if it goes down very hard. It is Her hand that touches the heart with healing, soothing, and ultimately profound peace. To love Her is to come into the awareness of our fullest passions, emotions, intellect and physical vitality. No matter what course we travel, Sekhmet the Eye of Ra is traveling beside us, alive in Her terror as the Great Goddess with the healing hands.

All text copyright © 2015 Rev. Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa