Photo Essay: The Sacred West Triptych (Part 2)
The completed under drawing of “Auset-Weret-Hekauw” (Isis Who is Great of Magic or Enchantments)~ An original Kemetic icon by master iconographer Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa/ with finished bas-reliefs prepared for gilding with 22k gold leaf / Panel 3 of The Sacred West Triptych
Great Mother Auset, I receive the milk of Your heavenly breast;
The grace of the Sun reborn in the East,
The doors of heaven thrown open
For the passage of my feet.
I am Your son, O Goddess of the Gods,
Mother of the Hawk Who encircles
The two horizons.
I am suckled by You, reared through
Your greatness, as was the Lord of the Sky
When He appeared with dappled plumage
From Your womb.
I take the magic of Your breast,
Nurse from the enchantments springing
Forth from Your loins;
This is the gap from which the sun is reborn,
And I am hailed as its face in the dawn
Between Your thighs.
O Goddess, the two horizons of the sky
Become Your diadems!
Auset Great of Magic, You are the Mother
Of the God, and of all the primordial Gods
Who came into being through You.
Homage to You O Auset Weret Hekauw.
Your magic is my magic,
And through You have I come forth again
As king of the celestial dawn.
~ Invocation to Auset Great of Magic by Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa
Part of my goal when I began my journey as a Kemetic iconographer was to bring through and honor aspects of the Netjeru (Gods) that are not otherwise receiving so much veneration or attention in the pop culture or polytheist/ Pagan communities. There will always be certain deities who will be popularly represented: Auset (Isis), Anpu (Anubis), Djehuty (Thoth), Heru (Horus)…what I call the “rock stars” of the Kemetic pantheon. These deities have no shortage of images- ancient and contemporary- to honor Them. Their PR machines, it would seem, have served them only too well.
However, even within the most celebrated deities, there are aspects of their iconography or manifestations that remain less represented, which I feel are equally as worthy of representation. My aim has been, even when creating icons for the most well-known deities, to choose modes of representation for them that call forth the lesser known aspects of their personalities. There are forms and epithets of each deity that remain obscure or in the background, or that seem to be not as forthcoming in the popular consciousness.
With the Sacred West Triptych I have chosen to celebrate three deities whose names and forms are certainly known and well represented within the ancient traditions of Kemetic iconography, but whose presence seems not to be so well established in the contemporary iconography. Ptah-Sokar-Ausir, Anpu neb Ta-djoser, and Auset-Weret-Hekhauw form the three panels of the Sacred West Tryptic. They were chosen to be placed together in this manner because these three Netjeru (Gods) are the custodians of the magic through which the blessed dead are transformed into the eternally living. Each of these Gods, in their own right, is the possessor of the Heka (or Magic) that makes resurrection and immortality possible. They are the givers of this gift, each of them taking one or more aspects of this process within their sphere of influence.
“Ptah-Sokar-Ausir”/ Panel 1
“Anpu neb Ta-Djoser”/ Panel 2
“Auset-Weret-Hekauw”/ Panel 3
One certainly cannot say that Auset or Isis, greatest of goddesses, lacks representation either in ancient or modern times! In particular, Auset as a goddess of magic is soundly present in the hearts and minds of all who know of Her. However, my feeling was that Auset the Great Enchantress, Isis Who is Great of Magic, in Her cobra-bodied form as nourisher and life-giver, is far less represented than in Her more obviously motherly, fully human iconography. When I prayed to the Goddess and asked Her for an image, this was the one She responded with. It is an image that summons all the magical force and motherly potency of which the Goddess Auset is capable, which surrounds, sustains and protects, just as it begets, transforms and bestows with renewed life.
The cobra Goddess Weret-Hekauw has always been a goddess in Her own right, embodying in very ancient times the kingdom of Lower Egypt and the magical power of its Red Crown. When this goddess passes into the body of Auset, the two great goddesses become an even greater goddess of indomitable strength- a goddess who contains the magic of creation and resurrection in the streams of milk passing from Her breasts.
My icon “Auset-Weret-Hekauw” celebrates a goddess who stands at the doorway to the Other World as the bearer of everlasting life for those worthy souls passing through. As She did for Her son Heru (or Horus), Auset-Weret-Hekauw stands as guardian in the marshes of the dark world, where the potentiality for chaos exists. It is Auset in Her great magic who takes hold of this chaotic potential and harnesses its power for creation, resurrection, and order. She takes all poisonous and noxious creatures unto Herself, and through Her unique qualities as magical Mother, transforms potentially deadly forces into a force that sustains and empowers the lives it touches.
Here we have a Goddess who becomes Mother to both living and dead. For the living, She is a goddess of magical protection, taking the sick, afflicted, weak or dispossessed into Her divine care. No living soul is without merit or hope in the eyes of this all-powerful goddess, Who beholds all beings as Her very own children, hearing their prayers for healing or deliverance from oppression. Her magic surrounds them all, and there is no illness, no injustice beyond the scope of Her magical embrace.
For the dead, Auset-Weret-Hekauw becomes a new mother, a womb that receives the infant seed of the soul, and bestows upon it the magic of rebirth. She suckles the souls of the newly dead, transferring unto them the divine power needed to make a safe transition between the worlds of the living and the spiritual domain inhabited by the dead.