Finally, in August, more than seven months after the Feast of Sekhmet, I am removing the statues from my trunk and returning them to their rightful place at the top of the hall closet.
Major holidays are always challenging for me, because they require me to move things out of their normal place. I sift through the various ritual implements that are used for spiritual work in our Temple and pull out the things we need, put away the things we do not. I check once, twice, three times to ensure nothing is forgotten or missing. I create a sacred spread across my living room and it temporarily becomes the shrine, the inner sanctum, the holiest of holy places.
Inevitably, this process results in my discovery of a thing that should have long been dismissed. Tattered tablecloths that cannot be restored. Old burnt-out candles with messy wax and twisted wicks. Scraps of paper that are torn and rendered meaningless. Even personal things, like old clothes that I will never wear again, old shoes that I have barely thought of, get pulled out from the back of the closet, and the decision must be made. Should it stay, should it go.
I am not one who enjoys throwing things away. I always find myself contemplating the possibility that I will need it as soon as it is gone. To some degree, I acknowledge that I have a hoarder's heart. There is value to be found in all things, I reason, and therefore all things should be kept and appreciated.
But sometimes a thing is no longer valuable for me.
When something does not serve you any longer, it behooves you to release it so that it may serve the one for whom it was meant. This is the only way to create the space in your own life for something new. One way we understand the energy of Sekhmet is that she is the fire that burns away all that is unnecessary, leaving only what is needed, valuable, and healthy in its stead. Sekhmet heals by destroying impurities; she cleanses by burning away the pollution. We are ready to remove the unnecessary when we've received from it all that we need to become all that we can.
The stories of her rage cause respectful caution in our worship of Sekhmet. The key to keeping her fire in check is to know when to douse the flame; to know when you are finished with this particular phase of evolution. Too many of us fail to properly acknowledge endings, and so we repeat cycles endlessly, causing the fire of Sekhmet to feel oppressive, devastating, and endless. We blame Sekhmet and her unbridled passion for our pain as we twist in the heat, but really it is our inability to let go by releasing and resolving. It is not Sekhmet who tortures us - it is we who torture ourselves.
Sekhmet is the great power of Ra, the consciousness of the cosmos. She has access to a knowing that is beyond our own. Her fire is not one to fear, but it is one to revere, and in our reverence, we must demonstrate the power and capacity to live and act with wisdom, which includes knowing when to hold on and when to release. Sekhmet challenges us to be vulnerable enough to allow something new and unknown to enter our lives, to allow the next part of our lives to begin. We must allow her flame to burn, with the clear understanding that whatever - or whoever - is gone at the end is something or someone we no longer needed.