Regarding Sekhmet’s Stolen Image

Chris M. Morris, via Creative CommonsSometime on Good Friday, the Goddess Temple in Cactus Springs, Nevada was invaded by thieves. The space that had always been open to anyone wanting to come visit the Goddess, to pray and to enjoy the peace of the sanctuary could do so unhindered. It was this that made it possible for those with a more heinous mission in mind to succeed in stealing the centrepiece of that place, a four  foot tall statue of Sekhmet that weighed just under 100 pounds.

The Priestess in Residence came into the Temple to find Sekhmet gone. The thieves had left behind only tire tracks, and in them was the necklace that the statue had been wearing, indicating that she had been tipped while being spirited away in the night from the place that had been her home for the last 21 years.

For the celebration of Earth Day that was scheduled to be held at the Temple, a picture of the statue was set in the place of where the image once stood.  The Earth Day Celebration went on as planned.

Right now, there is much speculation within the Pagan community as to why it happened or who might have done it.  The first thing that came to mind is that somehow, since it was done on Good Friday, it was religiously motivated, as if to remove an image sacred to those who are not a part of the Big Three monotheistic faiths.   Others have suggested someone just wanted to make Sekhmet their own.  Others have posited that because of the area of the country and because Sekhmet personifies power itself, that the culprits could be drug dealers who believe that stealing a bit of mojo is perfectly acceptable.  Whatever the motivations are, the Pagan community and all those who love Sekhmet are upset by the theft.

Initially $500 was being offered for information that led to the arrest and prosecution of the culprits. That has since been kicked up to a $2,000 reward.  I would not be surprised if that figure increased yet again.

The unfortunate byproduct of this tragic event are those Pagans who wring their hands and drape themselves over the furniture, wailing that this is about religious persecution – or that if this had happened in a Christian church or Jewish synagogue, the press coverage would somehow be more than it has been.  I understand the deeply personal feelings that people have toward Sekhmet and that someone would do something so terrible is frustrating and brings up anger, sadness and the overall feeling of somehow being violated. I also know what it feels like when the issues and events we hold near and dear are not adequately covered as we feel they ought to be.  I think anyone who is on the receiving end of being even in a small way touched by any sort of crime – be it a hate crime or something else must feel that irritation that no one could possibly understand.  Pagans in particular, seem to love to latch on to crises of this type because it makes them feel as some “persecuted other”.  I never saw much use in wallowing in that sort of self-pity, personally.

To be honest, I never thought I would see the day Sekhmet’s children would resort to playing the victim card and yet I have in these past few days. Some have resorted to comparing and contrasting our religious site being desecrated and comparing our pain to the pain of others when thier faith was lashed out against. Somehow they conveniently have forgotten in another crime that is unrelated but took place just before Easter where  three innocent lives were lost last week during Passover.  Ironically, all three of the victims who were slain by a white supremicist were Christians.   It is my view and in the interests of ma’at that I believe that no one should be singled out, begrudged or feel persecuted for their beliefs, or have their sacred spaces violated. The ones who whine about how we of “Other” faiths that are not Jewish, Christian or Muslim are so very persecuted and discriminated against conveniently forget the burned churches, the desecrated mosques, the ravaged Sikh temples, that have all  have been the scenes of senseless violence and desecration, all  based on hate and intolerance. Our prayers go out to their families and our voices whisper hopes toward peace and understanding.  It is what we should do for each other as human beings. Skin colour, race, religious conviction, sex, sexual preference and any number of other things does not trump the fact that we are all human beings and have to share the space, so to speak.

While the stealing of the statue is a tragic, heinous thing, too many within Paganism’s ranks  love to use that common excuse that gets handed out is to blame the media – especially when screaming “religious persecution”.

This, in my personal opinion,  is not an act of persecution. We need to stop with the assumptions that somehow it was. There were no slurs painted over the space, the building was left intact- they took the statue, something that cannot be replaced. It’s a theft. Cameras may be necessary as a precaution to insure against future thefts, or worse, the safety of worshipers. That’s the way of things these days. It has to be, unfortunately. Slanting the story is not helpful.  We now live in a world where that kind of trust is not something that can be easily given to just anyone. We used to sleep with our doors unlocked and our kids could play in their own front yards. Both things are becoming increasingly rare now – but of course,  that has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with a society that is largely out of control.

We are not the dominant religion, that is true. We are not Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, but we can practice our religion for the most part unmolested. Do people lose their lives here over being pagan? Hardly. That is what the comparison with the Passover shootings was about – and it is relevant. Can people in India, Africa, and even Egypt itself say the same? Absolutely not. I know of native Egyptians who do worship Sekhmet – but they cannot do so openly or it is a death sentence.

There is no point to the practice of comparing and contrasting of pain and transgressions and tresspasses against “Us” versus the ones suffered by “Them” – whichever side we happen to be on.  Any religion being oppressed, any desecration of a holy site is an outrage and intolerable. As a Priestess of Sekhmet, I ask is our suffering any greater than the churches that get burned down, the mosques that are desecrated, the medicine wheels that are destroyed?  No. Absolutely not.

Whomever did this – be they someone who lusted for Sekhmet’s image itself, or someone in the drug cartels  or someone just doing something ignorant and hateful, I can say without reservation that they will have literal hell to pay.  In spite of Sekhmet’s loving, healing aspects – and She has many – there are very dark parts of this Goddess that are invoked when Ma’at has been transgressed.   To those who know Sekhmet and those “darker” aspects of Her, know without any shadow of a doubt that the move was a very stupid one indeed.

That statue will be returned – or not. But we are undamaged, and Sekhmet’s worship is undeterred. One thing is for certain, however, those who stole Her image will get what they have coming to them. I know for a fact, Sekhmet’s Arrows Do. Not. Miss.

In my years of experience, Sekhmet, as far as Deities go,  is most definitely NOT  a victim; and neither, I dare I say it, are Her children. We will not curl up into a ball and wail and bemoan the situation. We will not stop doing what we have been doing since the resurgence of Sekhmet’s worship in the world.  We know who our Mother is,  and She knows us.  We who know that we belong to Her carry Sekhmet within us.  Our minds hone in on Her with a singular focus.  We do this because She IS the very Personification of Power or Sekhem itself. To succumb to this blow is to give that Power away.

Rest assured, we have absolutely no intention of doing that.

(Mirrored at niankhsekhmet.com)

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18 Comments

Filed under kemetic, pagan, politics, rants, Religion, sekhmet, Sekhmet, update

18 responses to “Regarding Sekhmet’s Stolen Image

  1. I’m sorry to hear of this. I live in Las Vegas and have visited the Temple twice now. That statue of Sekhmet is a powerful sight indeed. I’m surprised I hadn’t hear of this sooner. I subscribe to the local news updates, but I saw nothing on this. I hope those responsible will reconsider and return the statue to its rightful place. Otherwise, I fear you may be right, and they won’t know what hit them. My feeling is that it was likely some kids who wanted to see if they could get away with stealing something. The Sekhmet statue was a natural target in that it’s gorgeous, impressive, and relatively out in the open.

    Not many people that I know, know of the Temple’s existence. Whomever took the statue had likely been there before, I would think. Maybe they did it on a dare, or a college frat hazing, or some such. In any event, I sincerely doubt it was done out of malice toward our faith. IMHO to them, She was a cool statue to take off with. They are in for a rude awakening when She makes it plain that She is so much more than just a cool statue.

    • I am quite surprised that the Temple is not so well known. I know in the mid-90’s, its existence was a very big deal. I saw one news report that was supposedly local to the area – but not much more mentioned outside of Jason Pitzl and The Wild Hunt. What surprises me is how many media people are actually in paganism and how few (myself included) who are dong much in getting the word out. I would like to see a documentary done about the Temple.

      I never got to see the statue, personally. I know that the artist has since passed away and replacing it will be near impossible. This would also make the act an art theft as well as being a theft of a religious image. But you are right….the thieves are in for a world of hurt.

  2. Solo

    A point of correction.

    Jews make up 0.2% of the world’s population. There are more practitioners of tribal African religions than there are Jews. Kindly don’t refer to us as a “dominant” religion; considering the history Jewish people have as the recipients of attacks from those that ARE dominant religions, it is both laughable and rather insulting.

    • It’s considered an “accepted” religion within the culture. Monotheism is dominant. The Dominant religion in the U.S., unfortunately, is still Christianity. If I have insulted, you, I indeed apologize.

    • Contemporary Judaism is a collection of Abrahamic traditions and movements characterised by tight knit families and communities which fall on a spectrum from Orthodox to Reform. Judaism as a base is where both Christians and Muslims source their mythologies. As a cultural, racial, and religious group Jews are more widely studied by non-Jews than any other group in the world. The Rabbis I’ve talked to will speak of being hugely influential in spite of size, and this is something Jews can be lauded for both internally and externally- you could certainly be forgiven for considering Judaism a ‘dominant’ religion.
      As for persecution there is little doubt in my mind that the case of the Jews is one of the best historically documented cases of sustained persecution in the world – but they’ve certainly recovered, and dealt out their own persecution, even among their own (most recently, forced sterilisation of Ethiopian Jews immigrating to Israel, a Zionist state which has systematically created an Apartheid situation with pre-existent Palestine). Few peoples today can lay claim to traditions which arguably date back over three thousand years, and most traditions facing the level of persecution that Jews did have not survived outside of revivalist movements like Egyptian and Hellenic reclamation within neo-pagan communities. In the case of these traditions it is quite fitting that Judaism be referred to as a dominant religion alongside the other major world faiths, and this is neither laughable nor insulting- I would call it flattering, and honest.

  3. The looting of a temple is a dire and criminal act to be sure, but how can a statue come to represent an entire religion or belief system? Objects and tools are distillations of spiritual presence, not the presence itself. Investing our entire philosophy or set of spiritual values in an object (as humans have been doing for millennia) seems to be rather misguided (it would be interesting to find some research on the subject). Perhaps humor would be a better response than outrage, as in “Sekhmet was bored and need to take a trip” or with equanimity as in “Sekhmet is now offering her blessings a whole new group of people.”

    • It doesn’t represent the whole religion, Pegi, and I daresay that the Goddess Temple in Cactus Springs is most definitely not even specifically Kemetic.

      While I am certainly grateful that “Sekhmet is offering Her blessings to a whole new group of people,” , I fail to see what humour might be contained in taking an image that a woman created out of love and devotion; that woman, who is now sadly deceased. The investment was someone’s love and thought and care and giving. That to me is sad. Sekhmet’s precence is indeed in everything – She is the Spark of Life, and every living, growing thing is in fact a reminder of that sekhem – which is in everything.

      Overall, your commentary is rather flippant if not condescending and spiritually arrogant in the face of many people having invested a great deal of time, effort and the like to create a safe space for everyone. That they suffered something that is nothing less than a violation is tragic. Compassion for the loss seems to be what is needed. Sekhmet will take care of the rest on all fronts.

      While I have never personally been to the Temple, and rally feel no great urgency to go there myself in the near future, I do think the act is worthy of prayers and a bit of empathy. Neither of those things seem at all evident in your comment.

  4. Hi Fanny Fae, my tone is not intended to be condescending, confrontational or make light of the seriousness of this transgression to all involved. All I am doing is using some critical thinking skills, which I see you have also utilized quite thoroughly in your own blog post. What strikes me is how human beings have this strange and wonderful ability to assign such loaded meaning to inanimate objects. Let me ask you, is the statue Sekhmet herself, or it is just a portal, a focus point for interacting with Her? If someone was to see a statue of a diety dispassionately, as just an object, then humor or equanimity may not be such an unusual response. My apologies for coming across as flippant or contrary, as my intent was only to add a bit of analysis on representational ikons to the dialogue.

    • As Priestess to the Temple of Goddess Spirituality, dedicated to Sekhmet, the Temple that She was stolen from, I would like to comment.
      The statue sat in the Temple for 21 years, and was seen, touched, addressed and loved by thousands of people. We celebrated Earth Day the day after she was taken, and all of us attending KNEW the presence of the Goddess that we are drawn to, was still there. But there was a definite damper on the day, and everyone felt like there was a hole in the Temple, (as well as our hearts.)
      I was never particularly fond of the statue and amazed myself by the pain I felt when She was gone. I realized that even though we all KNEW the Statue was not the Goddess, it was a focal point for us. It was a place to direct our prayers, our gratitude. If one wears a crucifix or other religious symbol, and you lose it, there is a definite sense of loss. It was the same for all of us at the Temple.
      (And some of us did try to bring some levity to the situation saying that perhaps She had gone on “Walk about”. )
      A new statue has been commissioned and will be dedicated on the August Full Moon. And yes, we have had to install security lights and cameras. So sad.
      Blessings to all,
      Priestess Candace Ross

      • Thank you for your commentary regarding the stolen statue. I had written this piece close to the time when Sekhmet’s image was first missing, and sadly have had no time to update the entry. I would love to know more and I am sure other devotees of Sekhmet and Kemetics would love to know more about the new piece that will be instilled. With the new moon on August 12th, that puts it a week or so after Wep Ronpet or Egyptian New Year – after the Rites that re-enact the Turning Back of the Enemies of Ra, when Sekhmet and the Heavenly Company that rides in the Barque of Ra have turned back the Uncreated One and all of the enemies of Ra. That is a most appropriate time for installing Sekhmet’s new image.

        I understand the hesitancy in installing security cameras and lights. It is a shame we live in a world where such a thing is necessary. It is a sad reality that many churches must face.

        Nefer sedjmek! (May you hear only good things!)

        Fanny

  5. I think perhaps everyone in the thread would be wise to just remember the teachings of PtahHotep in this. In a nutshell, PtahHotep was a governor and an advisor to Pharaoh and King Izezi, in the 5th Dynasty (Old Kingdom) The Maxims of PtahHotep were in the form of an aging man to his sons as to how to live well and wisely.

    “Do not be arrogant because of your knowledge, but confer with the ignorant man as with the learned for the limit of skill (art) has not been attained, and there is no craftsman who has fully acquired his mastery.” – The Maxims of PtahHotep,(R.O. Faulkner Translation, “The Literature of Ancient Egypt” edited by William Kelly Simpson, Yale University Press)

    What you perhaps do not understand, Pegi, is that in African Traditional Religions (ATR’s) those “objects’ when opened and ritually imbued absolutely can become a vessel for the Deity it depicts. Interestingly, that is not limited to inanimate objects, as people who are Sekhmet’s or any other Deity’s trained priest or priestess can also be fully possessed if they have been trained as such. That, to be clear, is absolutely not channeling – or the process of “Drawing Down the Moon”. This process is something else entirely. I have not been to then Goddess Temple,, so I am uncertain that the stolen image was open or not. My guess is that it is possible that it was, considering the amount of attention that the image was accorded with ritually and the fact that many people journeyed there to see Her.

    Those of us who have been shrine keepers for our deities – especially when we are Kemetic, know the difference between a mere statue and an icon. there is a profound and palpable difference between the two. Many of the images of Sekhmet and various other deities that are from antiquity are so imbued and have never been “closed.” If you take a look at almost any of the Sekhmet statues that were taken from the Luxor cache in Egypt that were taken from the Mut Precincts, for example, it is absolutely in there. You cannot explain it. It isn’t a bunch of mystic woo-woo that is devoid of critical thinking,. One image of Sekhmet in Chicago at the Field Museum in particular, a red granite image from the Luxor area that was never completed, it has been ritually opened, or done it on its own. Interestingly, no matter if people actually try to ritually shut it, and people have attempted to do that; inevitably, She opens back up again.

    Why?

    I guess the presence of Sekhmet and the number of ATR’s who are devoted to her in the area is so strong. With that, inevitably, the energy has a place to center focus. .At any rate, when that process has happens to an image, whether or intentional or as the inadvertent result of focus, etc, then the image ceases to be “just an object” – and it then becomes something else. That some people can grasp that “something else” does not make them not as spiritually evolved. It just makes us differently focused and the image helps us reconnect with our akhu (ancestors) and appreciate all that we are.

  6. Thank you for this tremendous overview FannyFae (!) which brings many answers to the knowledge I am seeking. I remember being in the presence of the Tutankhamun exhibition in Seattle many years ago, and knowing on some deep level that potent and numinous energies were at play. Here’s hoping even more temples devoted to the resurgence of the Divine Feminine, like the Goddess Temple in Cactus Springs, start up in future, and are blessed with great protection and power. At the same time that we are moving into a new paradigm, the “crazy factor” in mainstream society only seems to be intensifying! Thanks again ~

  7. Tim Rosenbaum

    Hi Fannie,
    As usual, your comments are spot on regarding many peoples reactions to this event of theft. I feel the best response to an event of this type is to pull together and show our support to Priestess Candace in the possible recovery of Sekhmets image.Should the recovery prove futile, or if the statue has been destroyed,then the next step would be to do what we can to fund a replacement.I have already pledged to Priestess Candace a cash donation in case a replacement is necessary. I would love to do a replacement statue myself for the temple, but I have a calling to finish HetHers temple first.For anyone with sculpting and artistic abilities,here would be a great opportunity to provide a piece of devotional artwork that would be greatly welcomed be many. The closeness to the Goddess you get from making a sculpture of this type is beyond description. Feeling the creativity of Ptah flowing thru your hands and the glow in your heart as you bring a representation of the Goddess we love so much into our earthly realm is a long term form of ritual that simply must be experienced to be understood. There must be many very talented artisans in the western states who could fill the need if called upon. I know firsthand of the experience of making temple Goddess imagery, and it brings a oneness to Her that you can’t get anywhere else. So instead of dwelling on the sadness, lets put together a solution. If plan A doesn’t pan out then move to plan B or C or whatever it will take. I have been to this temple,placed water from my temple in Wisconsin upon the lips of Sekhmets image,knelt and bowed in reverence to Her and felt Her power of the desert. This is a very special place, and with our participation, will remain special.

    • Thank you for your comments, Tim! Indeed, there are many that could offer their love and devotion to the project, should a replacement be necessary. Devotional art is so very important. Thank you for doing a piece for HetHert’s temple! Dua HetHert! I hope that you will be kind enough to share photographs when you are finished and or She is installed in Her final home. 🙂

      There has been talk on some of the Sekhmet groups on Facebook and Twitter that a replacement will be done. I am hoping that there will be a Kickstart, Indiegogo or GoFundMe campaign that will be launched to make it much easier for people to donate and feel that their money is actually helping in the project. Thanks again!

      • Tim Rosenbaum

        I can send you pictures of my HetHer temple project but am not sure which email adress to use.

      • That would be most excellent, Tim! Thank you. 🙂

        My email address is fannyfae at gmail dot com. I very much look forward to seeing them!

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