Home' Nova National : July 2010 Contents 31
© NOVA JULY 2010
In the town of Luxor in southern
Egypt, lies the impressive Temple of
Karnak, once the headquarters of the
Egyptian priesthood. It is the largest
and most imposing of all of the Egyptian
temples. Here among the papyrus and
lotus columns, obelisks and shrines the
play of sun and shadow dances across
ancient wisdom carved into stone. In the
days of the ancient mystery schools this
temple was associated with the power of
the god, Amun,"the hidden one". Yet, for
the spiritual explorer, perhaps the essence
of the power of Karnak can be found in
the small sanctuary of Sekhmet.
Located off the beaten track, behind
the main temple complex and through
five successive gateways, the sanctuary of
Sekhmet is overlooked by most tourists.
For those who find their way to the temple
though, the first indication that there is
something very special about this site is
the temple guards outside.
Why, among all the splendour and
grandeur of the main temple, is this
small, seemingly insignificant temple being
watched over by several guards?
And where are all the tourists?
For a small fee the guards unlock the
door to her sanctuary and you step into
a dark room. As the door is shut from
behind, the contrast of the sharp sunlight
outside and the darkness of the room
temporarily blinds you. Then your eyes
begin to adjust, first to the golden rays of
light beaming from a small opening in the
ceiling above, then slowly to a human-
The Egyptian goddess Sekhmet, known and feared for her
great power, has a softer side too. Janne Salo explores her
role in personal empowerment.
sized, black basalt statue of a beautiful,
tall and slender female with a lioness face.
There is an unearthly glow to this statue
and a feeling of a powerful presence. It
is both eerie and beautiful. You feel your
focus diminishing as if in a light trance
and suddenly there is the strongest sense of
not being alone. That the statue is, well....
It goes against your "one plus one
equals two" and you bolt for the door,
dashing outside into the light of day, to
compose yourself and gain normality.
Overwhelmed, confused and excited all
at once, you ask yourself, what happened
For answers it is necessary to go back
to the ancient spiritual practices and look
at how the Egyptians perceived their
sacred images. To the Egyptians a sacred
statue was not just an empty physical object
representing a certain god or goddess.
Masters of magic, the skilful craftsmen
carved the divine statues in symbolically
significant stone and ceremonially charged
them with life. A sacred statue could
become a vessel of an indwelling spirit,
filled with the divine attributes of the god/
goddess it represented. The Egyptians
never separated spiritual force from
physical form. To them everything, from
the heavens above to the Earth below, was
capable of expressing divine power -- the
sun, moon, stars, plants and animals all
emanating a specific divine presence.
So the statue of Sekhmet at Karnak
would have been created with the intent of
capturing the divine presence of Sekhmet.
A combination of skilled craftsmanship
and sacred rites had the effect of "opening"
the statue towards the spiritual attributes
that Sekhmet emanated. The statue then
became the medium through which
Sekhmet manifested as a tangible presence
on the material plane.
As Jeremy Naydler says it in his book
Temple of the Cosmos:
"This was the invocation of the divine,
in and through a material form, which
is no longer simply a material form, but
has acquired a within -- a spirit."
So, who is Sekhmet? And what does
Sekhmet is one of the original
archetypes through which the Earth's
first archetypal patterns were established.
Her name means "Mighty One" or
"Powerful One" and she is also known
for her creative and healing attributes. It
has been said that she is the "Keeper of
the Flame", her power not of the Earth
but from the most ancient reaches of the
Cosmos. In ancient Egypt she was the Eye
of Ra, the sun god who sent her to earth
to punish mankind for its wickedness.
The scholars often portray her as the
female aggressor, the goddess of war and
destruction. According to the myths, her
solemn task of punishing the wicked
developed into a taste for power that ran
out of control. Her dire mission turned
into personal enjoyment and she soon
destroyed everyone on her path.
This one-sided portrayal of Sekhmet
has perhaps led to a misrepresentation,
whereby she is commonly viewed as the
cruel, merciless goddess, the one to be
But new interpretation of the
teachings from the temple walls suggests
that Sekhmet represents the warrior
within each of us; that you can awaken
the Sekhmet within yourself to light the
fire that empowers you to break down
the blocks and barriers that stand in the
way of your life's vision. This fire is power
and can bring you the greatest gifts, if your
will is aligned with divine will and your
heart with the divine light. It is the power
that comes with deep peace and stillness
On the other hand, if you fall for the
seduction of power and use it unwisely,
you are moving onto dangerous ground.
The mastery of the warrior within comes
when you know the appropriate moment
to temper the warrior, to allow it to be still.
This is genuine personal empowerment,
and perhaps the true representation of
the power of Sekhmet -- the timeless
lioness dweller in the Temple of Karnak. ●
'There is an unearthly glow
to this statue and a feeling
of a powerful presence.'
Pictures: Janne Salo
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