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Ancient Egyptian Wisdom ... Daily Practice

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ode to the Great Mother, Ast

Great Mother Ast, I am the child who you protected. I awaited your call as you bound up my slain father and brought me forth. I suckled at your breast as you fled with me. I suckled at your breast as you mourned my father. I suckled at your breast as you defended me. You nurtured me. You taught me my father's name. You taught me how to vindicate my father. I am victorious, but you are the throne. Twa-u Wr Mut Ast (Thank you great mother Ast)!

As I spent Mother's Day with my mother, I couldn’t help but think about my relationship with her through all the stages of my development. From sitting me at her feet as she earned money sewing, to cooking food for me to take to college, and even making the garments for my wedding; my mother has always been a consistent factor in my success.

As we celebrate Mother's Day, we need to meditate on the archetype of motherhood, Ast. Let's take a look at the great myth of Ast, Ausar, and Heru (misnamed by the Greeks at Isis, Osiris, and Horus).

Already the Queen of Kemet and a leader in her own right, Ast experiences the profound sorrow of the lost of her husband due to his murder at the hands of his jealous brother Set (the origin of the name Satan). Set covets the throne of Kemet, so he invites his brother Ausar to a feast. He tricks Ausar into coffin and drowns him in the river Hapi (Nile). Hearing of her husband’s murder, Ast flees for her life. Fearing Ast may find Ausar’s body and use her mystical powers (hekau) to resurrect him, Set reclaims Ausar's body and tears it into 14 pieces to be spread all over the land. Undaunted, Ast collects all of the members of Ausar, except his penis—most significant because Ast was not able to consummate her union with Ausar. Gripped with sorrow, Ast re-members Ausar and flies over his bound body as a swallow. She uses her mystical powers to recreate Ausar's penis and she is impregnated (perhaps the first divine insemination). After giving birth to Heru, Ast travels the land teaching her son his legacy as the ruler of Kemet.

Heru grows into a powerful reflection of his father, but like most youth, he has not entirely internalized the teachings of his mother. He fights valiantly, but loses his first battle with his uncle, Set, due to the fact that he lacks spiritual insight. Set believes that he has killed Heru during his battle; he tore out his eye. As Heru lays blinded and near death, he is visited by his “step-father” Tehuti, who secrets him aware in a boat hidden amongst the marsh reeds. He gives Heru the udjat—the eye of great wisdom and intuition (Matrix Revolutions anyone?).

In his next battle with his uncle, Heru is victorious. In divine wisdom, he decides not to kill his uncle. His final victory is judged by the Neteru ("gods") in the Great Hall of Truth. He has vindicated his father. Ausar is resurrected and reigns as the King of Heaven as his son is ruler on earth.

There are so many important teachable points in this great myth that it is hard to know where to begin! Think about the sacrifice of Ast. She loses everything, and still spends her life seeking to set things straight. Her story reminds me of the strength and temerity of Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and even my own mother … this is a BAD sister. The son that she carefully nurtures and protects is the “son (sun) of god”. He is the archetype for humanity on earth. The wise teaching embedded in his struggle is that the throne can only be attained through the mother. In fact, Ast’s name conceals this fact. Ast is the throne. This is one of the key lessons from our Kemetic ancestors. For a deeper understanding of this truth, meditate on the image of the statute of Nsw Bit (Pharoah) Pepi II and his mother Ankhesenmeryre II (picture to the left). I’ll post more on the sacred symbolism encoded in the statue later.

I’ve reread and meditated on this great myth for such a long time. There are still sections that I am not spiritually mature enough to understand. However, one has become clear to me recently. What do the trails of Heru, our earthly paradigm, mean to us? What might they mean for people of African descent in today’s world? My interpretation: we must re-member our ancestors, not matter how distant, in order to regain the throne! I think Ast has spoken to me. On this wonderful day celebrating the women who brought us into being, we must never forget the teachings of our Great Mother. This is the only way we can truly succeed. Ankh (Life), Udja (Strength). Seneb (Health)!

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