Seshat – Goddess for Our Times

A society which fails to acknowledge the realm of the gods, a society in which the elites in power seize divine blessings for themselves alone, is a society that dishonors the goddess Seshat and embarks instead upon the disastrous path of King Midas.

You recall that everything Midas touched turned to gold, a wish granted to Midas by Dionysus. This unfortunately included his daughter. King Midas was a master of bad judgement obsessed with the trappings of wealth and power.

Virtually all the ancient myths and sacred stories from cultures worldover are based on celestial metaphor calling attention to this fundamental truth: we exist in both a material and a spiritual universe. Both components – the seen and the unseen – must be maintained in harmonious balance lest serious troubles ensue.

The level of reductionist materialism – the view that only matter is real – is now perhaps at its highest in recorded history. In fact, I am comfortable asserting that the last time the world found itself in a similar state of godlessness and shameful decadence, dystopian Atlantis was on the eve of its fatal destruction some 11,600 years ago.

In ancient Egypt some 3,000 years ago, around the time of the First Dynasty, Seshat was tasked with properly aligning all newly constructed temples and monuments, thereby maintaining Earthly harmony with the Spiritual Realm – the Realm of the Gods. We know, for example, the Giza plateau aligns with the three stars of Orion’s belt and that the Great Sphinx itself, which was built several thousands of years before the Great Pyramid, aligns with the constellation Leo the lion. At sunrises in 10,500 B.C. the Sphinx stared directly at Leo. These celestial alignments are paramount to appreciating the gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt.

Seshat was also:

  • The keeper of historical records and accounts
  • Guardian of the sacred hieroglyphics
  • The Goddess of Knowledge and Wisdom
  • Female Scribe and inventor of writing
  • Goddess of passing time, the lunar cycle and the movement of the stars
  • The goddess of mathematics, astronomy and architecture
  • Mistress of the House of Books
  • The Lady of Builders
  • She who opens the doors of heaven for you

Seshat is a moon goddess, which possibly explains why she is not as well known today as one might expect and also why no Egyptian temples or cults were dedicated to her. Most Mother Goddesses and archetypes of the Divine Feminine are reflective, unassuming and forgo the limelight. Seshat, for example, defers to Thoth, who at various stages in Egyptian history was diminishly known as her husband, father, consort or scribe.

Regardless, Thoth, a moon god, was Seshat’s male counterpart. In Chrysalis Tarot readings, it would be appropriate to associate Seshat with our Moon card, a symbol of nocturnal yin energy, and to use the Moon card to invoke her divine assistance.

Regarding Seshat’s symbology, the seven pointed object in her headdress is not a “seven pointed star,” as is often incorrectly assumed. Instead, it symbolizes celestial alignments, i.e. sunrises, sunsets, etc. The number 7 in this case symbolizes the Seven Heavenly Spheres visible to the naked eye: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Seshat is depicted (top) cutting notches in a palm reed to symbolize some particular pharoah’s allotted time on Earth. Her leopard skin garment indicates she’s a High Priestess.

Interestingly, only exalted priests and priestesses who had defeated the evil god Set were permitted to wear leopard skin robes. This is why I refer to Seshat as goddess and protectoress for our troubled times. It is she who eventually will realign Heaven with Earth and thus restore cosmic harmony. Seshat exhorts us to align ourselves and our societies with the patterns of the divine realm. One commentator noted, “Everything about Seshat symbolizes the vital task of integrating, harmonizing and “tying together” the divine realm and the material realm.”

An excellent book on this subject is “Serpent in the Sky: The High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt” by John Anthony West.

© Toney Brooks, 2022

The Divine Feminine

Chrysalis art by Holly Sierra

“When the world was born, I came into being. I am the unfading beauty of times to come. In me Grace is at work to divinize the soul. I shall continue to disclose myself to you. I am the Eternal Feminine.” ~ Teilhard de Chardin

One great difference between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity – perhaps even the greatest – can best be understood by examining the very different routes taken in translating the Greek word, theoria. In the East, theoria meant contemplation. In the West, it came to mean theory.

Western Civilization has rigidly theorized, defined and dogmatized almost everything revered by early (pre-Constantine) Christianity. Over the centuries, Christianity has evolved into a horribly out of balance (out of touch with reality) top-down patriarchy. This is why many of us speak of “The End Times.” ‘End of what,’ we ponder? End of an age? That’s for certain! The final, gasping breaths and end of an exhausted, misogynistic Western worldview? Probably. And if so, ‘good riddance,’ but let’s hope Western Civilization can be salvaged by evolving (finally) a more balanced and rational spirituality.

The journey to the re-emergence of the Divine Feminine will involve a conscious act of human spirit and genuine contemplation, not simply memorized “correct beliefs.” Correct beliefs and rigid, impenetrable dogma: these are instruments of manipulation and control. Would that more Christians recognize that. You might recall what Jesus said of religious authoritarians: “For you are like whitened tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men’s bones…” (Mt 23:27)

Theologians all agree we can articulate absolutely nothing about the incomprehensible essence of God, an eternal, unknowable mystery. And although we can voice nothing about God’s essence (ousia), which is the transcendent nature of God, we can, however, glean much from the experience of God’s activities (enérgeia) on Earth, God’s immanent nature. Some faiths teach God is heavily involved in the world (God’s will) while others extol individual free will, a philosophical disputation for some other time.

Divine Transcendence by Michelle Oravitz

I believe it is imperative to have faith in a personal God with whom one can build a relationship. This automatically precludes gods of abstract forces, concentrations of energy and Prime Movers. We have at our disposal a plentiful inventory of personal Gods to choose from. For me, at the time I wrote Chrysalis and since, my own personal God has been the Divine Feminine. In fact, Jewish mysticism declares that God’s activities on Earth, God’s immanence, are indeed the actions of the Shekinah – “the feminine presence of God who dwells among us.” This teaching is based on writings from the Talmud and Kabbalah.

The Shekinah was in the mist that guided the ancient Israelites through the desert to the Promised Land. Throughout human history there have been many manifestations (theophanies) of the Divine Feminine. Until, that is, she was repressed – some say exiled. “We know and understand by historical and current world conditions, that patriarchy is the force of power and suppression of the Feminine, rooted for millennia in religious doctrine…” (Source)

Orthodox icon of Holy Wisdom (Sophia)

The Greeks knew this mystical feminine presence as Sophia, Holy Wisdom (left). The Romans as Magna Mater – The Great Mother. In ancient Egypt she was first Hathor and later Isis. In the Northern Lands she was Freya; in Celtic Lands, she was known as Danu and as Shakti in Hindustan. In Chrysalis she reveals herself as The Moon, the art adorned with Ishtar’s Eight Pointed Star of New Beginnings. And in Christian mystical thought she is Mary the Mother of God.

I [Sophia] am the breath of the Most High, blanketing the Earth like mist, filling the sky like towering clouds. I encompass distant galaxies, and walk the innermost abyss. Over crest and trough, over sea and land, over every people and nation, I hold sway. ~ Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 24:3-6

In Chrysalis we propagate the “breath of the Most High” as implicating prana or pranic energy, which continuously traverses the seven chakras and reunites with its wellspring, the Universal Soul. Prana is a Sanskrit word meaning life force. However, we are unable to evolve a personal relationship with prana in the same idealized way we can relate to Sophia or, say, to the Divine Feminine. Consequently, we tend to ascribe human characteristics to our deities. A process called anthropomorphism.

Those qualities we humans ascribe to the Divine Feminine include gentleness, dependability, constancy, nurturing, compassion and empathy, to name a few. I attach no small significance to the fact that Queen Elizabeth was often photographed wearing a lovely brooch that accentuated the eight-pointed Glorious Star of Regeneration and New Beginnings. In Chrysalis, regeneration is symbolized by the Phoenix.

Will the death of Elizabeth II mark a new beginning and herald a new era? In practicality, of course it will. For me, and perhaps for many others, it is proving difficult to let go of the Elizabethan Era, the only era we have ever known. The Queen provided our material grounding – our refuge from the storms and uncertainty of disruptive change. We shall now rely upon the Divine Feminine more than ever. Obviously, I am an Anglophile, a staunch royalist who values tradition. I once lived in Celtic England (Cornwall) and will forever cherish those days just as I have cherished this remarkable woman.

The Queen is dead. Long live the King.

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, Queen Elizabeth II

An excellent book by Caitlin Matthews titled Sophia: Goddess of Wisdom, Bride of God is highly recommended.

© Toney Brooks, 2022

Who is Mary?

Bartolome Murillo’s The Assumption of Mary (detail), circa 1680. The Hermitage, St Petersburg.

In the Chrysalis schema, Mary is the ultimate archetype of the Great Mother Goddess. (The Vatican, on the other hand, does not see it this way.) Other deities that represent the Divine Feminine and who are included in the Chrysalis pantheon include the primordial Earth Goddess, Gaia, Ariadne, Brighid, Kali and Bastet. Such prominent inclusion of the Divine Feminine archetype and consequently her energy are very important aspects that set Chrysalis Tarot apart.

We chose today to publish this blog since yesterday, Sunday August 15th, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary was celebrated. The Assumption is an important feast day in the church and also a date Chrysalis users should cement in their conscious awareness. Chrysalis considers the Assumption of Mary an apotheosis; she should be regarded by us as an integral, inseparable aspect of the Divine, which sadly is viewed by our civilization as entirely patriarchal. Patriarchal societies always evolve patriarchal gods.

Were we to define “Chrysalis mysticism,” the Divine Feminine would be its foundation stone. In Jewish theological thought, particularly mystical Kabbalism, the Divine Feminine is known as the Shekinah. It was the Shekinah who led the Jews out of exile – her divine presence dwelled with and within them and often was symbolized as a blinding, extraordinary light, just she is on a number of Chrysalis cards, for example, Storyteller, Chrysalis Tarot’s unique interpretation of the Shekinah.

Joshua passing the River Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant (1800), by Benjamin West.

Whenever we derive genuine inspiration from a reading and are honestly unable to attribute the inspiration to our own ego, the Shekinah is speaking to us via one of her many spiritual surrogates and archetypes.

Much more about the Shekinah can be found in the Chrysalis Tarot companion book. This is from Tali Goodwin’s Introduction:

“I was also able to appreciate how it [Chrysalis] wove seamlessly the spiritual
essentials drawn in other decks, particularly the presence of the Shekinah,
such an intrinsic yet barely mentioned mystery of the Waite-
Smith and Waite-Trinick Tarot images. I am impressed by how such
concepts are here raised from religious constraints and placed in a
space from which we can all draw, universally and compassionately,
through the images of the deck.”

© Toney Brooks, 2021

Cruising the Sea with Singles World

C18“My world is small but it’s not that small.”

A sleek cruise ship resembles a meandering, overpopulated island, a gently swaying labyrinth whose prospectus promises the seaman’s beatific vision. That’s if you get lucky.

The wary young soul who summoned enough confidence and courage to approach my friend Catherine wasn’t…lucky. He meekly stammered, “Are you with Singles World?” and was promptly treated to a slice of razor-like repartee:

“My world is small but it’s not that small.”

In fish-infested waters there be barracuda! And there be dragons too, as we shall see.

Now what to make of the moon’s stranded soul? What prospectus enticed and then failed him? What matter of man doth he symbolize? We’ll come to that directly.

After publishing the Chrysalis Tarot Companion Book in 2016, a book all Chrysalis enthusiasts should read – not because it’s great prose (it isn’t) but because it charts a thoughtful course off the confines of that godforsaken island – after that endeavor, I contemplated the offing that rests on the horizon. I’m still contemplating it.

While the second half of the companion book offers greater detail than did the “Little White Booklet” that’s included with the Chrysalis deck, greater detail about each of the 78 cards’ symbolism, the first half offers a synopsis of the Chrysalis zeitgeist – its worldview spotlighted as a New Paradigm.

In that offing, far off the bow of the fancy cruise ship (a metaphor for a life of comfort), I saw three ships a-sailing – a schooner, a barque and a sloop. Each represented a mostly undressed idea that sported a few encrusted barnacles.

(An author dare not write anything until enough barnacles collect on the planks.)

schoonerThe schooner’s idea points to the return of the Divine Feminine – the feminine presence of the godhead and wise counselor of human destiny. This presence is symbolized by the Chrysalis moon (above). The Divine Feminine is also known as the Great Mother, an archetype that’s been around for at least 30,000 years but likely for a great deal longer. The “return” of the Divine Feminine is a metaphor for spiritual growth par excellence and the evolution of human consciousness to a level we dare not comprehend.

barqueThe barque’s more ambitious idea points to a secular (non-religious) interpretation of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Medugorje, Yugoslavia, a tiny peasant village I traveled to often and even lived in for a while. This story is bound up in Catholic doctrine and has consequently found a limited audience, i.e. Catholics.

The apparitions have been occurring in Medugorje since 1981. One of the Franciscan friars assigned to the parish told me, “Once it hits 15 years it’s lost in space.” He was right: relevance walked the plank, so to speak, around the turn of the century. The barque idea would be a fun project; for some time I’ve been keen to write something destined for condemnation by the Vatican. The Virgin Mary joining the ranks of Lilith, Diana, Isis, Kali, Asherah, Sophia, et al. would be immediately anathematized. Besides, this idea was elucidated the 50’s (without the Medugorje angle, of course) by the great German psychologist Erich Neumann:  The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype.

sloopThe sloop’s idea is even more ambitious. It points to the Chrysalis worldview of a connected universe where all matter is conscious (panpsychism) and consciousness itself is the Ground of All Being: you cannot drill down on consciousness – it is the substance, quintessence and architecture of the cosmos.

The solitary man on the island in Holly’s moon painting needn’t worry because he isn’t really alone, nor is he any different from any one of us. That’s explained in part by our bowing to the worldview of scientific materialism, a worldview that insists existence beyond ourselves is religious belief, not a scientific fact. Not yet anyway! We are not alone – we are all connected to fields of infinite splendor.

My corollary to the sloop’s idea is that information and energy are equivalent and the stuff of consciousness: E = CI ~ In this formula, information sharing (I) is instantaneous, non-local and not limited to the speed of light; quantum mechanics proves that entangled particles interact with one another instantly, even when on opposite sides of the universe. Energy (E) is pervasive in the vacuum of “empty” space (quantum foam). Vacuum energy used to be known as aether, a.k.a. akasha (information).

Outside-the-box thinkers – great scientific minds such as David Bohm, Nikola Tesla, Karl Pribram, et al. and our contemporaries Shelli Joye, Sean Carroll and Nassim Haramein, et al. – are evolving this paradigm, albeit slowly. However, change will be coming to a crescendo. And soon.

Who we don’t see in the Chrysalis Moon card is the green dragon. Holly and I discussed including her but she was, uh, scuttled – too much symbolism and not enough room. So visualize her underwater. The vast ocean depths are a metaphor for the cosmically connected unconscious mind. The Green dragon herself symbolizes staggering change on a cosmic scale.

Note the difference in the waters the three ships sail. Only the sloop sails in calm waters. Until Cartesian dualism (mind vs. matter) is rendered antiquated thinking, the Green Dragon will continue to ramp up the churning seas of change.

(An interesting perspective on the Green Dragon of, sea change.)

green dragon

© Toney Brooks, 2019. Comments welcome.