From the Oak: Let’s hear it for the God!
Many are those that focus on female divinities, leaving male divinities in the shadows if they get mentioned at all. This is a shame. Here I will share my thoughts, stories and prayers on male divinities.
Shezmu, Perfumer and Headsman
So while the Pagan blogosphere is reacting to the God Graveyard fiasco, I figured it would be more interesting to learn about some of the deities that were on the list. I found a short list on Sannion’s blog. If anyone finds a longer list or a complete list, I’d love to have it.
So the first god I’m starting with is Shezmu (Shesmu, Shesemu, Shezmou, Shesmou, Sezmu, Sesmu, Schesmu, Schezemu), an ancient Egyptian god of the underworld.
Shezmu has a duel role as the punisher of the damned and protector of the virtuous. He is variously portrayed as a full man, a lion-headed man or as a hawk. At Hathor’s temple in Dendera, Shezmu appeared as a man on a boat with a uraeus on top of his head, between two stars. He is associated with Nefertem, Apep, Ra, Ma’at, Horus, Old Horus, Thoth and Sept. Shezmu is variously described as the headsman of Osiris, “Lord of Blood”, wine-press God, “Lord of the Laboratory”, lord of the slaughterhouse of Horus, chief of the Slaughterblock, wild of countenance, overthrower of enemies, slayer of desert beasts, mighty of arm, slayer of rebels and “he who propitiates the heart of Hathor with what she likes”. Because of Shezmu’s connection to blood, red was considered his color and sunset was considered his time of day. In modern society, his name is associated with various games and is a character in the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan.
Shezmu is the god of both the oil and wine press. From a modern point of view, this seems like an odd association for an underworld god. But upon further study it makes perfect sense. An oils are used not only in food and to perfume and moisturize the skin but also for dressing and embalming the dead. As Lord of Blood, Shezmu’s association with wine is an easy one to understand for Egyptians associated wine with blood because of its color. (Egyptians are not the only one with this association either as Christianity immediately comes to mind as does Dionysos.) Yet his mythology makes further use of the wine press. In Shezmu’s role as headsman of the damned, the press is used to squeeze the blood out of the heads of the wicked, which was turned into wine and given to the pharaoh to give him strength over his enemies. (As the divine butcher, he also fed the pharaoh those slain by Khonsu.)
From the use of oils and wine to benefit both the living and the dead to his role of divine punisher and provider, Shezmu is a complex deity. He is an interesting reminder that all gods can be what we term “beneficial” and “destructive”.
Pyramid of Unas
Book of the Dead
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