God of Death, God of Life

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My journey with Ptah-Sokar-Ausir to co-create an icon for Him is gradually coming to an end. I say co-create because a true icon or cult image is the outcome of an intimate collaboration between the deity and the iconographer. This relationship for me is a deeply initiatory experience, and one that ripples out from the studio to impact many areas of my life simultaneously. I cannot claim absolute authorship of the holy images my hands help to bring into this world. Artistic skill is the easiest aspect of the work I do; it is the spiritual faculty demanded that challenges and provokes me to refine my relationship with my Gods.

What I have found is that Ptah-Sokar-Ausir is a surprisingly vibrant, multi-colored and energetic deity. A death god would seem to bespeak solemnity, quiet awe, and perhaps respectful terror; certainly, I have felt these things rising to the surface at various times during the creation process. However, Lord Ptah-Sokar-Ausir continually asserted to me that being a death god actually places Him foremost in the phenomena of life-giving, procreation, continuity, rebirth, and production; for the Kemetic experience of death is the completion of one cycle coinciding with the beginning of the new. Death is itself a force giving way to life. Ptah-Sokar-Ausir explodes with fresh energy, manifesting in brilliant colors that leads one into the presence of the newly risen sun, or the holy lotus as its buds burst open.

This is what I experienced very profoundly as I concentrated on bringing His image to life on the icon panel. Ptah-Sokar-Ausir also showed Himself as a source of healing, which I had previously not associated with Him specifically. But it does make sense that a deity involved in giving resurrection to the dead would concern Himself with the healing process; after all, what is resurrection or rebirth if not a healing from death, impotence, and inertness.

Ptah-Sokar-Ausir takes custodianship of the dead within His cavern of darkness in the Duat, and then, in those darkest hours of the night, pushes the seed of new life up and into the world of light again. He is not unlike a midwife, nor is He separate from the undertaker. He receives death and all dead matter into His hands, and in those hands He transforms death into the matter and phenomenon of life. He is, then, a god of LIFE, not a god who takes life away. These are things I have felt strongly during the execution of this icon, which has at times been emotionally and physically taxing, and at others profoundly charging and exhilarating.

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