Beginning a Year of Sia, of Shedding Snakeskin

The inundation has come; Sopdet has revealed Herself. The new kemetic year is upon us.

On the final day of the Epagomental/Intercalary days, the days-between-the-years, I asked Wepwawet for His final message for me to sum up my year. The answer was sobering: COSMIC EGG, NEGATIVE.

You will never fully comprehend even a fraction of the information in this or any other universe or dimension, not in a single lifetime anyway. The harm that you inflict on others is harm that you also inflict on yourself.”

A photo of the "cosmic eye" card from the Pathfinder Oracle deck. The "cosmic eye" is an abstract astronomical feature of some kind.
Cosmic Egg in the “NEGATIVE” position. I love this oracle deck, even when it hurts!

Ouch. I know I’ve got a lot to learn, but summing up a full year as “you know nothing” stung a bit, even if I know it’s true. Additionally, one of the deepest parts of my anxiety issues stems from the fear of harming others, so that last line hurt. Still, it was the first part that seemed to jump out at me.

Hesitantly, I then asked Him for His message to me for the upcoming kemetic year. To my relief, it was more promising, with SNAKE, POSITIVE:

“Snake is fluid, slippery, and guile. It’s able to weave between the physical and metaphysical worlds. Rules are meant to be broken when they don’t benefit you, and it sees straight through the deceit of others and doesn’t hesitate to call it out.”

That’s quite an optimistic change from last year; looks like a lot of room for growth, of shedding the old opaque skin. But how do I get from my current state of knowing nothing to somehow easily seeing through deceit? Thankfully, He is the Opener of the Way, and He didn’t provide this advice without a path forwards. I think He has a plan to help improve my lack of perception in the coming year…

A photo of a box, with a statuette of Anubis, three dice, and a couple oracle cards on top.
My altar in its closed position. The “Snake” card is on the left, and the card on the right will be explained later. And all the the D10s/percentile die I’ve hoarded have came in handy!

Wednesday, August 5 marked Wep Ronpet, the Ancient Egyptian new year, in my local region. This is the time of the inundation, the flooding of the Nile and a time of rejoicing. In my former tradition, Kemetic Orthodoxy (KO), it was standard practice for anyone present for the in-person new year rites to receive their own personal “god of the year.” (This god was selected for us; I’ll leave the rest of the details private.) Last year, mine was Ptah, great creator god and master craftsman. Although I never had direct interaction with Him, I believe He made Himself present through my art; I produced over double the amount of finished devotional art pieces in that Kemetic year than I had in the previous year, including my two most popular ones. I am eternally grateful for His presence.

But this year posed a challenge, as I was once again an independent practitioner. I was tempted to skip the whole process, but after learning that Endy, a good friend who’s also ex-KO, was going to divine her own gods of the year, I decided to follow suit.

I asked Wepwawet to help choose Someone for me, being both the foremost god in my life and a guide par excellence.

I rolled the dice for it — there’s something immensely satisfying about rolling dice for situations like this! — and had to double-check the results on the table to make sure I read it correctly.

The result was Sia.

Sia is not a household name. Despite being directly at Ra’s side on the Solar Barque, despite being present all throughout Ancient Egyptian history from the Old Kingdom onwards, He is something of a quiet background figure. He had no cultic activity dedicated to Him in antiquity, no named priests, no temples. I have never heard of a modern-day devotee of Sia.

So, who is this mysterious figure?

The “Perceptive Mind”

Sia is the personification of the “perceptive mind,” and from His place on Ra’s right-hand side, He is “responsible for carrying the sacred papyrus whose contents embody intellectual achievement.” [1] He is almost always seen alongside Hu, the personification of authoritative speech.

Interestingly, Sia and Hu exist simultaneously as independent entities and as “important characteristics of every god.” [2] That is, each and every god could be seen to contain accurate perception and authoritative speech. This is especially so in the case of creator gods; Sia is considered “equatable with the intellectual energies of the heart of Ptah in the Memphite theology, resulting in the creative command of Ptah’s tongue,” and both Sia and Hu were born from drops of blood from Ra’s cut phallus. [1]

The Pharaoh was the representative of divine wisdom on earth, and was therefore associated with Sia as well. A spell in the Pyramid of Unis includes a passage that states:

“This is (Unis), who leads the kau and who unites the hearts for he is the Great One who exceeds in wisdom and who carries the divine scroll; he is Sia himself who is at the right hand of Ra. (Unis) has come to his seat, who leads the kau, and (Unis) will unite the hearts with the perception of what is great and (Unis) will become Sia, who carries the Divine Scroll, being at the right hand of Ra, for he is secured in the hand of (Unis). […] This is (Unis). (Unis) is Sia, who is at the right hand of Ra and the one reserved of heart […]”

Taterka, F. (2017). Were Ancient Egyptian kings literate? Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur (SAK) 46.

Connecting the Dots

My kneejerk reaction upon learning more about Sia was that it wouldn’t be easy to connect with Him. Connecting with very “solid” and familiar gods (Anpu/Anubis and Aset/Isis come to mind here) is challenging enough for me — how would I be able to form a relationship with a god Who personifies an abstract concept, especially one I’m pretty bad at?

I asked Wepwawet one final question: “what advice do you have for me, in working with Sia this year?” His response was CAVE, POSITIVE:

“Caves contain secrets of both the natural world and human history. Unique flora, fauna, and artifacts that can’t be found in any other part of the world all remind you that there’s more to life than what we see on the surface.”

I’m sensing a theme here. Last year, I understood nothing. By focusing on Sia, Divine Perception Himself, I can delve deeper under the surface, weaving my way between the worlds like Snake, and begin to improve my perception. That’s just a first pass at interpreting this; I imagine I’ll reevaluate as the year winds on, but this is as good a start as any, I think.

On the one hand, I look forward to this; I enjoy “intellectual” pursuits, and this could be an exciting year to dive more into philosophy (namely Stoicism, which has been a recent focus) and kemetic thought.

On the other hand, I’m terrified that “weaving between the physical and metaphysical worlds” and “perceiving more than what we see on the surface” implies that I’ll have to do journeywork too. 

A photo of sunlight coming in through a window on the top floor of an apartment complex.
The sunlight filtering in through my apartment’s stairwell shortly after sunrise on Wep Ronpet. It was breathtaking.

Admitting Some Hidden Materialist Baggage…

My current practice involves almost no journey work. It’s not for lack of trying; I’ve used books, guided meditations, and even an instructor-led course via Patreon, all with little success. As far as I can tell, I’ve been mostly unable to leave the confines of my own mind. I believe I have indeed had a few successful “journeys” that lasted a few moments, including ones facilitated by experienced elders in the community — but I could be wrong as well.

I’ve generally attributed my challenges with journeywork to the fact that perhaps I’m just naturally incapable of journeying; I was also unable to play basic piano songs even after a full year of private lessons, for example, because I was never able to “count” properly. (4/4 time? 3/4 time? What?)  For whatever reason, these skills just don’t seem compatible with me.

But if I’m really being honest with myself, I don’t think that’s the only reason.

I think the main reason is that materialism still has its claws in me, and I’m subconsciously just too skeptical to fully accept journeywork. It seems that a deep-buried part of me still sees journeywork as wish fulfillment daydreams rather than “real” experiences. I certainly don’t want any part of me to feel this way, especially since I know that journeywork is a critically important practice for a large portion of pagans/polytheists, including nearly all those who I look up to as elders in our traditions. But I can’t pretend that this part of me doesn’t exist; avoidance is no way to move forwards.

I think this year I’ll have to find some other way through or around this issue. Throwing new methods at it hasn’t seemed to work, so maybe it’s my perception, my outlook that needs changing. And changing my outlook is going to be much harder than simply trying another new guided meditation method.

Here’s to a year of Sia!

I wish you all the best in the upcoming year. May this year be gentler than the last; may Ma’at prevail and heal the injustices in our lands; may She bring healing and justice for the Black communities that have suffered so much, and may Sekhmet bring us all healing in this time of COVID-19.

References

[1] Hart, G. (2006). The Routledge dictionary of Egyptian gods and goddesses. London: Routledge. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/3698677/_George_Hart_The_Routledge_Dictionary_of_Egyptian_Bookos_org_?source=swp_share

[2] Richter, B. A. (2016). The Theology of Hathor of Dendera: Aural and Visual Scribal Techniques in the Per-Wer Sanctuary. Atlanta, GA: Brown University, Lockwood Press. Retrieved from Google Books.

[3] Taterka, F. (2017). Were Ancient Egyptian kings literate? Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur (SAK) 46. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/35558568/Were_Ancient_Egyptian_Kings_Literate_SAK_46_2017_pp_267_283

Note on the Oracle Deck: This is the Pathfinder Oracle, which I highly recommend. It’s the deck reserved in my case exclusively for Wepwawet’s use.

2 thoughts on “Beginning a Year of Sia, of Shedding Snakeskin

  1. Your Wep Ronpet sounds like my Ostara this year – ‘here’s a thing you need to do, you won’t enjoy it, you’re going to find it difficult, but you’ll have additional help from Someone and afterwards you’ll feel so much better’.

    Good luck, and I very much approve of your use of gaming dice!

    Like

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