Out of the deeps rises the mysterious lotus. Stop in for refreshment, heka, and reflections from the sacred waters of ancient Egypt.
Geb's Longing for Nut
It’s finally winter here at Temple Osireion. In our warm South Carolina clime, it takes a good while for autumn to wind down and release the last brittle leaves. The lawn lies brown and dormant right now, revealing every curve of the ground, exposing tree roots and shallow bulbs. However, Geb, the earth god, still stirs even in his sleep; the first irises opened this week in a sheltered corner of the garden, the butterfly bushes have new leaves, and I see a green shoot at the tip of my fig bush. A flutter at my kitchen window last week caught my attention just in time to see four bluebirds splashing in our little fountain.
Sacred landscape is evident throughout Egyptian culture and religion. The Pyramid Texts fairly shimmer in telling how the pharaoh (a metaphor for each of us) is greeted: “The sky trembles at you, the earth quakes for you, the imperishable stars come to you.” (1933, Mercer). And while every Egyptian recognized the embrace of Nut, the blue mother stretched above as the sky, with gold stars covering her body, most of us, too, will have at one time or another experienced the nurturing curve of the night sky around our shoulders, clothing us with a glittering starry shawl.
At the beginning, in Sep Tepi (sacred time) it was a mound of earth that first rose out of the primeval waters. No god spit in clay or ripped a rib from a man’s side. Obviously, the source of all was the ground on which we walked, and the mysterious waters hidden beneath it. From the primordial mound emerged, depending on which myth you accept, a lotus or a goose, then Ra. But any way you slice it, the land and sky are the source, the context, for life. Some have said that even the temples that came later were images of the mound of creation.
Geb laughed and the earth quaked. A lowly beetle opened its wings to fly, and the idea of always-becoming also took flight. The horizon was always in sight in Egypt, ever-reminding that a new beginning is merely hours away. And the imperishable stars were only a stairway from earth, for the ones who chose to make the journey of spirit and become an akh. Next time you are out in the January cold, take a moment to stand on some dirt. Remember the rocks as Geb’s bones. Smile to know that his desire for his consort Nut will soon be evident in the green shoots of spring.
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