Sekhmet is one of the oldest known Egyptian deities. Her name is derived from the Egyptian word “Sekhem” which means “power” or “might”. She is depicted as a lion-headed woman, sometimes with the addition of a sun disc on her head.
Sekhmet was represented by the searing heat of the mid-day sun. She was fierce. She had teeth and claws. She was also the patron of Physicians, and Healers and her priests became known as skilled doctors. So the fearsome deity was also known as “lady of life”. Above all, she is the protector of Ma’at, balance.
Sekhmet was closely associated with Kingship. She was often described as the mother of Maahes, the lion god who was a patron of the Pharaoh and it is suggested that the Pharaoh himself was conceived by Sekhmet.
According to myth, her father Ra became angry because mankind was not following his laws and preserving Ma’at. He decided to punish mankind by sending Sekhmet, the ‘eye of Ra’, and she began her rampage. The fields ran with human blood. At the sight of the carnage, Ra repented. He ordered her to stop, but she was in a blood lust and would not listen. So Ra poured 7,000 jugs of beer and pomegranate juice (which stained the beer blood red) in her path. She gorged on the “blood” and became so drunk she slept for three days. When she awoke, her blood lust had dissipated, and humanity was saved.
So what was it that pissed Ra off so much?
A bit of imbalanced Ma’at?
Seems a bit extreme.
Except that the imbalance was the loss of Sekmhet herself who shortly afterwards lost her status and her teeth when morphed into the rather more matronly and benign Hathor.
Lion got traded in for cow.
And since the Gods’ vengeance is invariably poetic Ra sent the very force which Humanity had so unwisely ignored to make a point from which it was impossible not to draw certain conclusions.
Your sins of ommision shall also be counted.
To withold is more damning than the sword.
Sekmhet’s fury is at the hybris engendered by depriving the Gods of their just acknowledgement.
When children are treated as idols, ‘special’ kids, little angels, the deprivation is two fold. Firstly the gods are not getting their due, but then neither is the child. Both are robbed of Ma’at. This makes Sekmhet and the child alike detached and vengeful.
The narcissist/psychopathic personality has been called the forgotten wo/man of psychiatry. There is a good reason for this. Psychiatry is focused on symptoms and the narcissist doesn’t have any.
How is that possible?
Because the narcissist’s wounds are about the absence of something essential rather than the presence of something florid or exotic.
Its difficult to spot what isn’t there.
Interestingly Dorland (1974) describes the narcissist/ psychopath as someome who has an anti social personality so the dysfunction is in relatedness…
”never in faults of logical reasoning, verbal confusion or technical delusion but rather in the sharper reality… of feeling behaviour” H. Cleckley.
The Narcissist does not simply disregard the ethical considerations or the rights of others in pursuit of selfish ends that momentarily outweigh his or her value system. What’s under consideration is part of a much more pervasive pattern…
that disregards regardless.
Conscience never really got developed in the first place.
Sekmhet’s altar is empty.
There’s a strong tendency in the literature not to hold parents responsible for their narcissistic progeny….
”I do not believe obvious mistreatment or any simple egregious parental errors can justifiably be held as the cause,..” ibid
and so despite brilliant descriptions of narcissistic enactments in his equally brilliant book, ‘The Mask of Sanity’, Cleckley is left scrabbling about for an explanation.
It being so difficult to spot what doesn’t occur.
Freud probably made the first description of the part played by deprivation.
”The necessary condition….is absence of love and a lack of emotional appreciation …” S. Freud.
I recall a training video on Autism we were shown as students. The young boy was being very badly behaved and kicking the skirting board in the hallway. The narration was focused on his behaviour and the strain on family life….
Unnoticed was what didn’t happen…..
an easy thing to miss…
His Mum was stood there with her arms folded….uninvolved.
even the three tear old sibling was pulling at her skirts as if too say,
‘Come on mum, get involved, be involved.’
I gave my son a massive plane with lights and buzzers for his third birthday. He stepped back a bit when it started going.
”I don’t want it, daddy.”
and for a second I was poised to give him a telling off for his ingratitude.
Did he realise how much I spent on the damn plane?
But then I realised that my gift was over-kill, compensation, the glazed look in his eyes was a mirror of me. I was uninvolved. The whole thing was so big and flashy he couldn’t play with it. He couldn’t hold it. He couldn’t imaginate his own adventure, pre-empted in fantasy by all the various sounds and movements it was already making.
And so I was ashamed.
All I’d given him was a manifesto of my own flashy noisiness which he couldn’t play with.
And so my ‘gift’ was actually an act of theft.
You took his Ma’at.
”Once, only obvious irrationality was regarded as a personality disorder. In fact, many less obvious disorders are more serious and incapacitating than those with gross superficial manifestations that can be readily demonstrated.” Cleckley
In fact, perhaps the delusional or schizophrenic person is a little better adjusted, given that symptoms contain meaning which can come to consciousness. How much more scary than the person who thinks they are Napoleon is the man who knows himself perfectly well but doesn’t care about you or your life as a premise for interaction.
I prefer Napoleon….
..and the paradox that even though it is the quality of a parent’s interaction with baby that determines baby’s later feeling life and the quality of future relationships or lack of them, so is it true that the epidemic of Narcissism is a collective phenomena, a direct consequence of the loss of the divine feminine.
How shall mother be….. if motherhood can’t be sacred?
Hathor, her sister, and in fact more a new incarnation of Sekhmet, mourns her loss.
Crucially, Hathor is goddess of motherhood and childbirth. If she is grief stricken for the loss of the lion/sun aspect of womanhood what will that bring to the mother/infant relationship?
Bruno Bettleheim, an analyst who spent time in Auschwitz, draws the comparison between concentration camp life and the inner world of the psychopathic child…
”in terms of the shared sense of depersonalisation and deprivation.” B Bettleheim.
Whatever the content of mother’s inner world, baby has a piece. Levy Bruhl originally called it ‘participation mystique’, a pre-verbal shared reality.
”the involvment in his mother’s emotional state is something he cannot separate himself from… he absorbs her psychological state as he absorbs nutrition.” F Ruppert.
If her state is one of being disenfranchised of spiritual worth or divine advocacy, then inner poverty is bound to result.
As is the compensatory gesture of having the child be special, laden down as he is with mother’s unvalued depths…
this dynamic is collective and cumulative.
and so society becomes increasingly self-centred and emotionally shut down…
Buuuut .. ..
thou shalt be more than a little bit depressed.
Wouldn’t it be spiffing if there was some poetic justice, some dark streak of irony in Sekhmet’s vengeance?
After all, the Single System systems have bred a very particular kind of person…
one who experiences the world as un-nourishing..
who doesn’t get told ‘no’..
has a propensity to project the shadow,
who is deadened in feeling…
without which values become a moveable ration pack,
who believes they are special and entitled
and that deep down they are godlike..
or doing God’s work…
with ‘unintegrated aggression’.
and no remorse or conscience….
Sounds like the perfect soldier to me.
Wouldn’t it be fun and clever if Sekhmet, ‘Lady of Pestilence’, then took them all and gave them guns and bombs while she drank her 7,000 jugs of beer and pomegranite juice,
and just watched from the bleachers while Humanity took up from where she’d left off?