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Out of the deeps rises the mysterious lotus. Stop in for refreshment, heka, and reflections from the sacred waters of ancient Egypt.

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The Great Flood of Akhet 2015

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Rain, oh, it rained for what seemed to be 40 days and 40 nights here last weekend.  At first we soaked up the deluge gratefully, the grass turning green again, the trees perking up from their dry wilt.  Then we heard on the news that Isis’ tears were going to swell the rivers for an unprecedented inundation.  By Saturday night I wondered if Hapy was angry with us, and by Monday I was simply weary.  On Tuesday my city’s (Columbia) water reservoir breached and most of the water has drained away, rushing downriver now towards the Lowcountry and Charleston, that city itself still recovering from the trauma of the summer’s violence.

b2ap3_thumbnail_canalflood.jpgThe South Carolina Great Flood of 2015 was a fresh reminder of how we humans rely on our perceived control of the natural world to maintain the life we have built.  We have a huge double dam not far upstream from Columbia which provides power to the region. And despite the Legislature’s refusal to put money into infrastructure, we’ve been muddling along pretty well considering the amount of traffic which passes through the state each week. City Council has felt comfy enough to divert water revenues to other projects rather than updating that system.  We’ve been through Hugo, we can handle things, right?

But when the rains and floods came, and despite years of emergency planning, we were still challenged to evacuate people in wheelchairs or hospitals or nursing homes, to keep inmates safe without escaping, to transport emergency workers on roads which had been washed away (one woman drowned on her way to work, driving into floodwaters just outside the county hospital). As I write, the water pressure is very low. More than 200 roads and bridges are washed out. We face, not weeks, but months of repairs and recovery.

Along the ancient Nile, the priests of Upper Egypt carefully watched their nileometers and kept ongoing records of the annual flood height.  This enabled them to warn those downstream of unusually high waters in time to move to higher ground. Even so, some prospered and some died. Like the fat and lean cows of Exodus’ pharaonic dream, there were years of plenty when the fields got just enough water and silt, and years when the harvest was not enough.

b2ap3_thumbnail_floodkayaks.jpgJust as in the season of Akhet, the Inundation, this week we have seen South Carolinians paddling around their neigh-borhoods in canoes and kayaks they must normally transport by truck to a recreation site. 

Watching news reports of rooftop rescues by those boaters reminds me of why the boat was such a powerful Egyptian symbol, the vehicle in which the gods traveled and the akhu (transformed eternal spirits) ascended to the stars.  And when the land begins to appear again, emerging from the flooded waters, I will have a fresh image of the primordial mound, the original pyramid of creation on which the sacred lotus bloomed, on which the benu bird landed, and from which Ra first appeared.

Even in a time when American conservatives argue that climate change is a fiction, Gaia will do what she will.  We are wise to make our peace with the knowledge that we are not in control. As we recover from the flood, may we sow seeds of wisdom and compassion, and may they grow into a harvest of new life in the months to come.

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Holli Emore is Executive Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the premiere educational resource for Pagan and other nature-based religions (, founder of Osireion (, editor/writer for Wild Garden: Pagans in the Growing Interfaith Landscape at, and serves on the board of directors for Interfaith Partners of S.C. (  She is co-founder of the original Pagan Round Table,, and author of "Pool of Lotus," available in print, or for Kindle or Nook, at


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