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ANCIENT EGYPTIAN STUDY GROUP - VIII Strength

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ANCIENT EGYPTIAN STUDY GROUP - VIII Strength


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Really glad I picked this card.

The first sentence of the book says it all for this card really

…symbolizes control over potential destructive power, achieving a balance between the opposites of passivity and aggression…

In the myth Sekhmet was sent by her father, the sun god – Ra, to rage war on his enemies. She was the destructive power of the Sun, the hot desert wind and could destroy her enemies by breathing arrows of fire at them. However, she got so carried away that her father feared for the survival of humanity. To stop her he tricked her into getting drunk on beer and pomegranate juice!

The Gods of Egypt were often associated with animal deities and depicted with human bodies and the head of their animal. Sekhmet was no different.

The Goddess Sekhmet, has the body of a female and the head of a lion. She is the daughter of Ra and wife of Ptah. Her headress contains both the sun disk and the uraeus. The uraeus is the cobra, which was used as a protective symbol. It was thought that the spit of the cobra would ward off enemies. She carries the ankh in one hand representing life but I am not sure of the implement she carries in the other hand.

Her name means powerful and she protects the good and destroys the wicked. Although she represents the destructive power of the sun she is also associated with disease, healing and medicine so she is the balance between being destructive and being passive. That is, finding the inner strength to tame the emotions and control actions but also to find the patience and confidence to face fears and to make healing changes.

The lion who represents strength courage and dignity lays peacefully in front of her whilst she on the other hand stands dominant and with composure. He represents the baser instincts and she has control over him. We see that each is easy in the company of the other but I always think that he has allowed her to tame him, that at any time this relationship could change with her being subdued and him being dominant.

The flame reminds us that whilst fire can give warmth, illumination and purity it can also be destructive.

The lion has his paws crossed, I wonder if that is significant?

So in Strength we experience meeting with our darker sides, our base instincts and emotions or passions and controlling them or integrating them so that we become masters of ourselves, with nothing to fear. A balance between self-discipline and control with gentleness and healing.
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Moongold  Moongold is offline
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It's interesting that Sekhmet has the head of a Lioness herself so there is a kind of parallel here. The Lion symbolizes latent power and aggression so there is added weight to the idea that one has to discipline the power within before addressing the external threats. Sekhment uses her own power wisely?

I think the sceptre in Sekhmet's right hand is a Waas symbol, the symbol for power.

There is a latent but very strong feeling of *power* in the image. One gets a sense of attentiveness, perhaps even watchfulness from Sekhmet, as she stares straight into our eyes.
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Great Description of "Strength" Jewel-ry. I like the observation of the crossed paws of the Lion; I have watched my cat and he does that, almost to fool me into thinking he is not aware and is really resting. I also see this card in the sense of physical Strength as well. That considered alertness before tackling a task that requires one to lift or push. How best can I do that in a way to protect my back. That particular waiting for a second or two before springing into action. There is that tenseness in this card.
I like how the symbols of each card are echoed in the next- for example the Empress has Bast to indicate the softer side of Sekhemet- that inner strength required in her Card. I love the richness of these cards. When I feel cold they convey a sense of heat from the landscapes in each card as well, much in the way Barrets Norse cards cool me in the summer.~Rosanne
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Sekhem-Ma'at  Sekhem-Ma'at is offline
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She carries the ankh in one hand representing life but I am not sure of the implement she carries in the other hand. >>

This is the "was" or "ws" scepter. The was-scepter is another early part of the royal regalia, symbolizing dominion, more in the divine sphere than in the earthly realm. This scepter consisted of a straight shaft with its handle in the shape of a canine head, and the base ending in two prongs. A was-scepter was also excavated at Abydos, so its origins may date to the Predynastic period. Its earliest representation again dates to the First Dynasty, where an ivory comb of King Djet shows two such scepters supporting the vault of heaven, symbolized by the outspread wings of the celestial falcon. As a symbol of power, the scepter was held by deities as well as by the king, as shown in the example of Seti I offering to Osiris, where Osiris and Horus are shown carrying the scepter. Some egytologist believe its Set's head and it symbolizes dominian over chaos and Set.

Senebty,
Sekhem-Ma'at
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Thank you Sekhem-Ma'at

and a very big welcome to Aeclectic. You obviously have a lot of knowledge on this topic and I look forward to reading your thoughts on the Justice card.

I, on the other hand, know absolutely nothing about egyptian myth so have a lot to learn.

~
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SweetIsTheTruth  SweetIsTheTruth is offline
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My appreciation for this card relates to the feline influences it shows. The lion is shown on the Strength trump in many decks. A Goddess, in feline form, however, is not. This card allows me to view Strength from a feline point of view. Sekhmet makes me think of the grace and poise of cats, the fact they always land on their feet, and the happiness they show in their purring. But woe to the fool who wishes to hurt kittens of a mother cat. Cats also have no fear in attacking snakes and overcoming snakes. I have even seen snakes run from cats.

This card helps me to see the strength of cats, both in the beauty of a cat's grace, but also in the very vicious way they can attack.
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The red dress that she is usually shown wearing when depicted as a woman with the head of a lioness symbolizes Sekhmet's association with blood. She is considered to be aspects of both Hathor and Bast and was eventually absorbed into the goddess Mut.

Sekhmet protected the pharaoh in battle, stalking the land and destroying his enemies with arrows of fire. Her body was said to take on the bright glare or the midday sun. (If you look carefully at the card, fire seems to be springing up around her and from her, which goes to show why she was known as Lady of the Flame.) She took solace in death in destruction. The hot desert winds were thought to be her breath.

The lion is the symbol for Leo in astrology, but the Egyptian sign for Leo resembles the serpent that appears at the bottom of the card.

Imagery suggesting the need for finding a balance between opposites or extremes is prevalent throughout the card:
  • domination and submission (Sekhmet and the lion, although it's usually the lion who dominates the lioness)
  • the Uraeus is both a destructive and a protective entity
  • fire consumes but also has the power to cleanse and purify
  • Sekhmet was known to bring disease, plague and pestilence, but at the same time was believed to be a healer
  • the ankh she holds is a symbol of life, while the barrenness of the desert in the background shows a landscape where nothing can live in the light of day
  • the ankh also plays off her bloodthirst and almost annihilation of mankind

Rodney
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