All people develop patterns during infancy and early childhood that, regardless of how conscious we are, direct our responses to the challenges of life. Because of these patterns we react with helplessness, rage, or any of the possibilities between. We lose our center, and often hide or act out in unconscious ways, creating chaos or causing harm to ourselves or those around us. We may yearn for the embrace of sweet Morpheus, the intoxication or sleep during which these feelings sometimes magically disappear—until the next time. Often we develop life patterns that result in the attraction of experiences that are harmful or limiting. If we can transform these deeply rooted negative patterns, the energy used to maintain them can be released and used for more productive, constructive applications. Then our responses to life would be different—richer and more conscious.
This transformation process is a kind of alchemy, a way of turning the lead of our deeply ingrained, unconscious reflexive responses into the gold of enlightened choice. Like alchemy, it is a process of cooking, similar to baking a loaf of bread.
In Alchemical Healing, old habit patterns are the ingredients to be transformed. With the guidance of a counselor or therapist trained in shamanism or inter-dimensional travel, you can invite these patterns to rise into consciousness, work them into a symbolic representation of the demons that plague you, and offer them/yourself to the goddess for transformation. I work with Sekhmet, the lioness goddess of ancient Egypt, because of her archetypal appeal and my personal resonance with her. If another tradition suits you better, the alchemical formula remains the same. You need only to find the appropriate corresponding archetype.
Although Sekhmet is a compassionate and powerful healing goddess, she is also the great destroyer. She represents the feminine fire to which you commit your inappropriate patterns, and it is in her belly that the transformation occurs. She is the container, solid yet flexible, that holds you safe while you are being cooked and your demons digested and transformed into their more productive, useful potential.
Sekhmet's myth, although constantly altered through eons of retelling, speaks of a goddess who comes to Earth to deal with a human populace who had lost respect for their creator. There was a time, her legend tells, when Ra, the sun god, ruled the sky and all that dwelt below. There was day, while the sun shone bright upon the land, and there was night, when Ra was swallowed by the goddess and carried safely through the night on wings of darkness 'till he was born again heralding the new day. It has been said that Ra grew weary. He was perceived as weak and decrepit by people who no longer paid him homage; their worship grew lax.
Ra looked on his creation, and in his dismay called upon the goddess Sekhmet to set things straight. As she prowled the land she saw needless human suffering. She saw how cosmic law was defiled. She loosed her wrath upon the people of Earth and the ground was littered with spent and bleeding bodies. With her newly ignited taste for human blood, the carnage knew no bounds, and Ra grieved as he looked upon the waste laid by Sekhmet.
Because of her divine powers, he knew he could not force her to cease her savage slaughter. He would have to resort to trickery. That night while she rested, he called upon his priests to brew 7000 vats of barley beer, spiked with mandrake root and pomegranate juice so that it resembled blood. Just before dawn they poured it out upon the fields where Sekhmet was sure to pass. When she awoke she resumed her feast. She began to lap the puddles of "blood" from the fields and soon became intoxicated, continuing to drink until the beer rendered her incapable of pursuing the slaughter. According to the myth, she turned into her more docile aspect as the cow goddess, Hathor, and the human species was spared. This tale omits mention of Sekhmet's boundless compassion, her exceptional healing gifts, her power, and her freedom.
The premise that Sekhmet's rage can be tempered through intoxication and unconsciousness, or sleep, illustrates how the current worldwide paradigm needs changing. No longer can we afford to retreat into unconsciousness, or have our freedom tricked out of us. Our personal demons are part of ourselves, and they, too, are divine.
Any person can connect directly with Sekhmet through shamanic journeys or other forms of interactive meditation. Guided visualizations with an experienced practitioner who is already acquainted with Sekhmet can be helpful. As you develop relationship with her, you begin to awaken her attributes in yourself—and her power. Although she brings a wildness that requires self control, there is also ample unconditional love and compassion, true balance and confidence, pure freedom, and the ability to own your true identity and purpose.
When you intentionally choose to make fundamental changes in yourself, you can enter into sacred partnership with Sekhmet. Once comfortable with her you can call forth the old, negative patterns that no longer serve you, render them into a symbolic representation, own that they are you, and surrender yourself to Sekhmet. She will devour the whole of you. It is within her belly during the time it takes to digest and convert the patterns you've brought, that you will experience, with full consciousness and participation, this transformative alchemical process.
It is with great joy that I embrace this work that Sekhmet has brought into the Alchemical Healing compendium. I will be offering this ritual in four tele-class segments. Join me as we redefine our responses to life by rewriting our most basic patterns In the Belly of the Goddess.