That which Poisons, also Heals…
That which brings Death, also brings Regeneration and new Life…
We approach the season of the Scorpio and the iconic Serpent, Eagle and the Phoenix as the Sun passes through 3 constellations: that of the Scorpion, Serpent and the Serpent Bearer. During this time of the approaching death of the natural year on the wheel, we herald the thinning of the veil as well as our connection with ancestors and spirits. It is also the time whereby stellar attributions of constellations Serpens & Ophiuchus the (Serpent & Serpent bearer ), Scorpius ( The Scorpion) and its fiery heart, the star Antares, are applicable to a great deal of esoteric correspondences that our ancients were attuned to as Sol moves through them along the Astrological belt. It is through the star Antares, the “Heart of the Scorpion” to which the Ancient Mystery School initiates of the Eleusinian Mysteries, were said to symbolically pass through. Without such as passage, an initiate could not hope to achieve the goal of enlightenment, being re-born and purified by the ordeal.
The Ancient Egyptians initially recognized the stars as places that the ka ( part of spirit) of the deceased enlightened ones visited, or returned upon death. And although they did not formally “assign” their deities to the stars, there are correspondences with which modern Mystery School adepts work with in the search for Truth and the keys with which to unlock the mysteries of immortality. Many of us find such correspondences on our own during the course of the Great Work rather than reading them directly in books. Of course there are some allocated parallels in learned material as well. In order to truly grasp the bigger picture, we must utilize all our faculties to gauge synastry between what we know intellectually and what we synthesize through gnosis.
One such deity in correspondence is the Ancient Egyptian Serqet. She has a merged form with Isis as Isis-Serqet, or appropriately Aset- Serqet. There are astounding similarities to the scorpion, the serpent and the serpent holder by which will be further illuminated in this article. We will explore the esoteric correspondences between Isis in the form of Aset-Serqet, and the zodiacal sign of the Scorpion. But, first some background on this Ancient Kemetic Goddess is necessary.
Many references to cultural fact in regards to Aset-Serqet are provided both as a composite deity and as separate ones in Ancient Egypt. It is beneficial as a reader to be aware that the Ancient Egyptians did not completely cut off one deity’s attributes from others, hence having a monolatrous or “soft polytheistic” religion. All gods and goddesses are part of each other and many share names and attributes. In this manner, it resembles Hinduism, which also goes by the principle of One and Many in terms of its pantheon. Aset-Serqet is but one of many manifestations of “Isis”, but it is a primal and powerful one, forged long before the Greeks and Romans came to Egypt and the Egyptian Aset became Isis and the Goddess of 10,000 Names. Aset is not only considered to be the exemplary divine Teacher of Magic, but also the Guardian of all manner of magickal secrets and as thus, has a distinctly fierce side. Many do not realize this, seeking to only identify with her healing and generous aspects that are presented superficially often enough. I feel it is a grave mistake to not seek to understand all manner of divine forces and aspects to such deities that embody them. There is always another facet to a jewel. And any jewel worth the price and sacrifice is graced with depth and mystery. Ancient Egyptian deities are not dualistic as Kemetic culture itself was not dualist in it’s theological viewpoint. There were not “evil” deities and “good” ones. Each god or goddess possessed both benevolent and severe qualities. More so some on one end of the spectrum than another. Aset is an extremely complex deity and cannot be put into a figurative box. I have served and worked with Aset for many years. In that time, I have certainly learned this.
As a Kemetic, the most prominent in my devotional line-up are the Ancient Egyptian Deities, especially my Matron, Aset-Serqet well as running an esoteric Temple in a Hermetic Tradition. I started becoming actively devoted to Her many years ago following the second near physical death experience in my life. By all medical accounts I should have died that night in the hospital, but some force that I recognized, a Voice in the darkness of the Void, had called to me to my Divine purpose. By agreement on some soul level, I was given a second chance at life. Thus, I became symbolically resurrected and transformed. It is a continual process and is my life’s mission to also assist others on their Transformational journeys as a facilitator and initiator to “Become more than human”, as we Hermeticists say. Just as Aset was considered “The Great Mistress of Magick ” and “Weret Hekau” (“Great of Magic”) and patroness of the Magickal Artes, so I too am a Magician and have run an initiatory Temple dedicated to Her for many years. In the Golden Dawn Tradition, Serqet is the deity ( or force) associated with the zodiacal sign of Scorpio and is thus invoked.
This personal journey through the underworld or “Duat” and being re-born back unto the living world anew as a different person, one in service to Divine Purpose is akin to the processes which align with the Zodiacal Sign of Scorpio. It is adequately represented by the Tarot card of Death. The Goddess Isis (Aset) is known as one who resurrects Osiris by breathing life into him so that she may conceive the child Heru-sa-Aset (Horus The Younger ) and Serqet is the “Mistress of the Beautiful House” who guides the recently deceased unto their new lives. She is a Goddess of new life, of regeneration, among many other things, some of which will be explored further here.
The Ancient Egyptian Goddess Isis (Isa, Ese), otherwise known to the pre-Hellenistic period in ancient Egypt as “Aset”. She is not just a benevolent All Mother. In fact, the Ancient Egyptians prior to the Greco-Roman period, did not even recognize Her necessarily as an All Mother figure, nor as a necessarily a Lunar Goddess and certainly not always benevolent. As with all Anceint Egyptian deities, she has her severe side as well as a beneficial one. Ancient Egyptian Goddesses in general were all solar, many considered to be the Eyes of Ra, but there are plenty of Lunar Gods. These even include Osiris/Asar/Wsr, who by we esotericists, consider to also be an aspect of the Sun. He represents the Sun at night, or that which is in the Duat, which could be seen in another perspective as the Moon. The only exception to Goddesses being solar, is perhaps Mut, but this is not proven. The only evidence being a pool at Her temple site at Karnak, being in the shape of a lunar crescent.
My personal experiences with Aset deviate somewhat from the lore of history since I have experienced Her in both solar and lunar contexts, but the modern general interpretation of Isis being a strictly lunar Goddess is incorrect by historical account. Those of us who serve as the Priests and Priestesses of Her Mysteries also recognize, know and utilize her solar power as well as that of the lunar!
To the Ancient Egyptians prior to Greco-Roman influence, Isis was known as “Ast” phonetically pronounced as Aset, Auset or Ese. She was solar Deity who was the Mother not of the masses, but of specifically Heru-sa-Aset (Horus the Younger) and Mother to the Pharaoh. She was known by some of following epithet examples:
“Great Mistress of Magic”,”Weret Hekau”, “Queen of Heaven and Earth”, “Possessor of Rolls”, “Mistress of the Stars”, “Sopdet, Opener of the Year”,“Possessor of the Great Words of Power”,”She Who Makes Kings”, “Clever of Tongue”, “Excellent of Words”, “Great Divine Spouse of Osiris”,”Sorceress Who Heals”, “Giver of Life”, “Expiator of Poisons”,”She Who Attacks the Powerful Ones”,”Sovereign of the flower of Lapis-Lazuli”,”Scorpion”, “Queen of All Women”, “She Who vindicates me before my enemies”, “Fiercely Bright One” and many, many other epithets.
There are many reasons she was called “The Fiercely Bright One. Aset was known as a powerful goddess of the forces of Life, which was believed to some from the Sun, all forms of heka (magick) and a clever shape-shifter. Aset was also a goddess who could travel back and forth in the liminal areas between the worlds of the living and the Duat (kingdom of the Dead) and was the protectress of the Son of Horus, Imsety. Serqet, who is sometimes regarded as part of Aset and sometimes as a singular deity, is the protectress of Qebehsenuef, the falcon-headed Son of Horus, and mother to the primeval, protective serpent god Nehebkau. She was a patroness of the physician-priests along with the goddess Sekhmet.
A little known fact amongst the current masses is the relationship between Aset and the Scorpion Goddess Serqet, (Selket/Selkis). Serqet is not only associated with Aset (Isis) but also became considered to be an aspect of Aset. Being merged with Her, some believe they are one in the same Goddess, based on mythos and epithets, some of the most obvious one being “The Great Mistress of Magic” and ” Scorpion”. No other goddesses hold these titles save for Aset and Serqet. The more primordial Serqet was the “original “Mistress of Magick”. There is even a composite iconic form of Aset-Serqet with Aset having the body of a scorpion, yet with the head of a beautiful woman. It is to the Serqet aspect of the syncretized Aset-Serqet as well as to her being recognized as a Goddess by her own name, that this article primarily focuses on.
Serqet is a very ancient and chthonic goddess. She was Patroness of the pre-dynastic Egyptian pharaohs known as the Scorpion kings. It is said that she came from the source of the Nile itself in the South beyond the boundaries of Ancient Egypt and was worshiped also in Nubia. Serqet became identified with this source of Life in Egypt itself and was a Patroness of physicians with an astoundingly active priesthood, yet no temple ruins to date exclusive to Her have been found. However, evidence shows her worshipped at Her cult centers that were established at Djeba (Edfu) , Per-Serqet (Pselkis, el Dakka) and the Nile Delta. Where Aset was worshiped, so was Serqet. This makes sense with the two being merged into one, composite deity.
Serqet shares the symbol of the cobra serpent with Aset as well as the scorpion and here we also find our correlation with the constellations of Scorpius, Serpens and Ophiuchus. The snake itself is associated esoterically with knowledge, wisdom and regeneration, as well as the kundalini Life force all humans possess within them that lies coiled up at the base of the spine at the sacral chakra, until awakened. Initiates of the Mysteries in Ancient Egypt and Greece were called “serpents”.
Naturally both the scorpion and the serpent were a threat to the Ancient Egyptians and invoked as protection against poisonous bites and stings by the physician-priests to heal. Aset-Serqet is Goddess of all poisonous creatures: serpents, scorpions and even our eight-legged arachnid friends, the spiders. By the same, being in control of those forces of poisons meant also having power to inflict them upon enemies. Hence the epithet “She Who Creates Poison”. More of Her epithets that correspond to this are “She who tightens the throat” and “She who tightens the throat to breathe” as certain poisons from bites are known to close off the throat, rendering the sufferer not able to breathe and thus asphyxiate and die a horrible death. So too, is the wrath of this Goddess inflicted upon those She disapproves of and as a personal attesting to Her obvious severity, she puts Her priests and priestesses through numerous rigors before She offers Her protection and reveals her sacred Mysteries, yet woe be to those that try to hurt one of her own! Only once one has proven themselves over time and discourse, does she begin to reveal her most holy and profound Mysteries!
Serqet was also fierce enough to work in tandem with the Lord of Chaos, the Lord of Storms, Set (Sutekh) in restraining the evil serpent Apep. One of her epithets include”She Who Binds Apep”.Hence we see here a correlation to the constellation of the serpent bearer Ophiuchus. I am going to make this clear upfront: Apep represents useless chaos and destruction, which is very different from the natural and primal chaos of Set. Set was never considered evil to begin with, yet unpredictable and harsh, just as the powers of Nature can sometimes be. He is a god of violent storms.
Apep however, represents the Kemetic concept of “isfet” which means “evil “and represents needless chaos. Serqet binds Apep, keeps it on a chain nightly, so that Set can slay it and thus prevent the barque of Ra being destroyed and the Universe not be thrown into complete disorder and destruction. I must clarify that Apep is not some sacred serpent or dragon that was ever worshiped in Ancient Egypt. Apep is not some misunderstood deity. Apep is not even deified in the Ancient Egyptian pantheon, but rather represents that which is an unwanted force to be restrained and done away with. It is not even a “useful” demon, much less a deity. This throws out the notion that Apep is another form of some other deity of a different cultural pantheon such as Tiamat, etc. Creation did not come from Apep out of the darkness, but rather was considered a flaw in the system, so to speak. Set, the esoteric Lord of Chaos, destroys Apep with help from Serqet. Enough said. Set and Serqet are the quintessential bad-asses in upholding the balance of the Universe! Serqet is foremost a Goddess of magickal protection/ punishment and magikcal healing second. With Aset, the reverse seems to be the case. Aset-Serqet is a very powerful deity and archetype indeed with this combination of attributes!
On an esoteric level Serqet binds all that is evil and unnecessary. She is invoked first and foremost for protection. Serqet is no deity to trifle lightly with. She is the uber-fierce side of Aset-Serqet and what I term her “night-side” with Her being the the energy of scorching noon-day sun brought into the Duat. She is a nocturnal goddess in keeping with she is in the realm of the Duat, not the seen world as her aspect of Aset is. Therefore we can also conclude that she is the “night-form of Aset”. Scorpions, her most sacred totemic emblem, are representative of this activity. Scorpions are nocturnal creatures by nature as I can personally attest having tended for scorpions in the past. This was along with large python and boa constrictor snakes, so the nature of the serpent is also known to myself not only in esoteric terms, both celestial and chthonic, but as real live animals that crawl and slither upon this Earth. Both creatures are fitting emblems for Aset-Serqet in her chthonic as well as celestial forms.
In nature, I have encountered scorpions most often at the edge of twilight, when they emerge from the rocks and sand where they like to remain hidden during the daylight hours. One amazing experience I had with them is as follows:
I was hiking one evening up a steep path up a cliff side on the coast of California after a late day beach entry pacific dive in preparation for my PADI open water diver certification and some underwater hunting. As Sol was dipping below the horizon quickly, I had to be sure of my footing, looking down at the path carefully using my pole-spear to steady myself. Turning on flashlight to see it better and shining it on the path, I saw to my surprise that there were many scorpions, writhing around my feet and on the path! They were of the small whitish yellowish variety and any one that knows anything about scorpions can tell you the little light colored ones are the ones that carry the most potent venom. If you get stung, you are cooked… period!
Rather than panic, I looked curiously at the tiny and potentially deadly 8 legged creatures and began to walk. They literally wriggled out of my way, giving me clear passage. My then husband and I also stopped to collect a few of them to bring home. Not a sting was to be had that night!
There are quite a bit of experiences with arachnids as well that I can share. I lovingly refer to them as the “Eight legged children of Serqet”. They show up in my home Temple often enough and I do not eradicate them, even the large wolf spiders. The small ones I leave alone and the large ones that could potentially deliver a nasty bite to our beloved Temple cat, I just deport out-of-doors where I hope they will make their way into the wooded area nearby. It is noteworthy to those interesting in Astrology the association of “eight” with the natural zodiacal eighth house which falls under the rulership of Scorpio. The number eight esoterically is that of regeneration and the cycle of birth, life and death as well as the balance of the divine and the chthonic in perfect accord.
Serqet is also associated with a particular blue water scorpion which is non-poisonous to allude to Her function as Mistress of the Source of the Nile and Her profound healing powers. These bright azure scorpions are quite unique and the Goddess Serqet Herself is said to have the striking face of a beautiful, yet fierce woman. She is depicted iconically with either a scorpion on Her head, or else the body of a Scorpion, indicative of Her association with these creatures and the forces they represent from an anthropomorphic point of view. Serqet is known as the “Mistress of the Beautiful House “who births the deceased souls in the Duat into their new lives, therefore being an appropriate symbol of the force of spiritual Transformation and Regeneration. She also can be associated not only with Magick, but Alchemy as well, by the concoction of poisons and anecdotes in addition to spiritual transformative processes. As aforementioned earlier in this article, an initiate of the Eleusinian Mysteries was said to have to pass through the celestial Heart of the Scorpion, the Star we know as the Antares, one of the four well known Royal Stars, to endure the trials there before being considered a truly initiated adept. The initiates themselves were called “serpents”!
Serqet can be associated esoterically with the star of Antares. It is known as in ancient Persia as Satevis and in modern Astronomy as Alpha Scorpius. This radiant red star, the color associated with Mars, the traditional ruler of Scorpio, is located within the constellation of Scorpius. Esoterically, the energy of Mars is associated with Antares. Given these obvious associations, it is typically associated with the zodiacal sign of Scorpio. The main star of the Serpens “half “of the constellation of Ophiuchus also contains a giant red star, called Alpha Serpentis. The energy of Ophiuchus in general is associated with Mars and Saturn.
Some esoteric traditions ascribe Yinepu (Anubis) to the sign of Scorpio instead of Serqet due to the reference of being the Guide of Souls in the Duat and embalmer of the dead. Some also ascribe Osiris to be representative being the quintessential esoteric God of Transformation and Alchemy, but there are so many more obvious as well as recondite correspondences with Serqet. These are in addition to my personal assimilation of the Mysteries of Aset-Serqet that validate otherwise as revealed over the years.
Aset-Serqet’s power to both curse & kill as well as to be able heal & create life ; to revive and transform the deceased in the land of the dead, not to mention her association with the Scorpion and serpent, is thus rightly represented from an esoteric standpoint within the constellations of Scorpius, Serpens and Ophiuchus as well as the star Sopdet (Sirius) as Aset alone . All factors makes Her a logical first choice in terms of a Divine archetype ascribed to the solar season of Scorpio…. This is the ” Season of the Scorpion Goddess!”
Copyright © 2015, 2016 Leigh-Ann Rose Grace
RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING
“Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology”, by Vivian E. Robson
“The Search for God in Ancient Egypt”, by Jan Assmann
“The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt”, by Richard H. Wilkinson
“The Eleusinian Mysteries & Rites”, by Dudley Wright