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Purification Rites of the Heart—the Threefold Goddess Path

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

Purification Rites of the Heart by CK Alexander


Virgo, Libra, and Scorpio seasons form a Threefold Goddess Path devoted to the Purification Rites of the Heart—found in the purification of the body, the self, and the emotional or subtle body. This trinity of rites is the essence of the sun’s voyage through this archetypal landscape of seasons, one that is also associated with the Egyptian goddess Nekhbet-Ma’at-Bast, who I’ll elaborate more on later.

We can see this threefold-path physically reflected in the tending of the earth through preparing the harvest, stores, and medicines to see us through the winter, tuning our attention to the shifting, nourishing needs of our bodies through realignment (Virgo/Mutable Earth). We see it in our interaction with others, all those individuals that form a whole that we are in dance with that is simultaneously more of a balancing act and can only be achieved with grace while we forge new bonds, bring the village together to share our stores and harvests (Libra/Cardinal Air), to see us into the Dark Night. Here is where we dive into the deep wellspring of our being, reach out to a lover to know our innermost self, realize/break/and reinforce the fetters of our interconnectedness, and peer into the secret mysteries in the silent, subterranean depths of our souls (Scorpio/Fixed Water)—all so a new way of being can eventually be illumed (Sagittarius/Mutable Fire) and subsequently seeded into a new world (Winter Solstice/Capricorn/Cardinal Earth) which we collectively come together and unify our dreams of the future, and tend to the new seed germinating within so that it can birth into existence with the astrological new year (Aquarius through Aries seasons).

And so, the Wheel turns.

It is the shared journey of us all, and one I always found poetically represented by the three Egyptian goddesses: Nekhbet-Ma’at-Bast, especially in relation to the personal, individuated, archetypal voyage of the soul through this threefold landscape.

Vultures are the perfect symbolism for Virgo, and thereby Nekhbet, particularly when considering their biological and ecological function—their earthly element—even if the carrion eaters and heralds of death so commonly remind us of Scorpio. Her wingspan reaches across the scales of Ma’at, over the temple arches, bridging the gap between the material/earthly body and the immaterial/subtle body. But vultures are more than scavengers—by eating carrion, they rid the ecosystem of pollutants so that disease doesn’t spread so akin to Virgo's bodily/earthly concentration. And I say concentration because of its rulership with Mercury bringing an airy, thought-oriented quality, or daily meditation—emphasizing the mind-body link and the twin cleansing that takes place, like with the science of yoga, so that the body can be thoroughly laved. Another quality of vultures links to this mercurial side of Virgo—they have an incredibly keen vision to see and utilize thermals, using their energies wisely to accomplish their task by gliding through the natural currents provided by the earth.

As mentioned, in her vulture form, Nekhbet was often depicted over the temple arches. In so, she was the presider over the mysteries, the alchemical bridge that links our dual nature to the universal nature—the cosmos themselves. Being a Watcher of the rites, the guardian of the inner temple, she guides us with her wings that transition the seasons from the beginning of the end of summer to the darkest depths of autumn.

Held in suspension between light and dark, is Ma’at, who weighs the heart against her feather on her scales. If the heart is lightened by the purification rites of the body that Nekhbet initiated, it can precede, ready for its transfiguration to come. The symbolic link with Libra and its scales is well known, so I’ll be brief. As an air sign, Libra links to the cosmic law embodied by Ma’at. Here, we can consider Venus as the heart itself and individuated experience intimately coupled with the other—subject and object in relation to each other. Only with this mirror can we see our differences that simultaneously unite us. In seeing the world so, we are separate but connected in symbiosis. And that is what the Weighing of the Heart means—so we can ask ourselves if we have been living in right relation to all that surrounds us. For what we do to others, we do to ourselves. The inner and outer cosmos, within and without.

Bastest, in her early form, was a lioness warrior goddess of the sun. Upon further division throughout the ebb and flow kingdoms, she took on her more familiar form of Bast, the feline goddess presiding over fertility rites, whose priestesses would perform sacred sexuality practices linked to all the serpent-fire mysteries. This dual nature resembles the Scorpio archetype, especially considering Mars as the Traditional ruler. Mars in its domain of Scorpio is about the fierce inner fire that is used to defend with ruthless determination (Mars is accentuated here by the fixed water quality opposed to the brash, bursting forth of will seen in its rulership of Aries) and the primal, passion of sexuality—both will forces of self-annihilation, for both paths lead to an ego death, and the choice is never made lightly. Just as the rites of initiation and the shamanic arts can never be taken lightly and require the conscious will to jump into the proverbial serpent’s maw and embrace an ego death. An ego death whose preparation began with Nekhbet and the purification rites of the body & mind.

In the context of our inner journey with Virgo, we prepare the body for the ritual ego death to come. We cleanse the body and the mind through our daily actions. All so that we can be in a place of inner harmony that comes into relation with Libra.

Here, we prepare the pageantry of the rite. We dress in beautiful, elegant garments, view the world with the heart-mind connectivity found in reciprocity, and, with our purified vision, see the beauty surrounding us. A beauty poised to wither, letting us appreciate and hold gratitude for all that has sustained us and everything we’ve experienced throughout the year—giving peace of mind through recapitulation for the letting go.

And with a clear mind, we garb our simple robes and enter the inner sanctum of our hearts. The ritual begins. We raise the cup, bring it to our lips, and drink the soma. The lights go off. There is nothing but darkness and your quiet breath. Somewhere deep inside or off into a great distance, drips—the trickling of water, the stirring of shakti—its echo resonates loudly from this subterranean cavern with its ancient riverways where all of your darkest fears and hidden desires flow. All you can do is surrender to the deepest recesses of your soul—fully letting go and bearing complete, honest witness.

As the last rite of purification of the heart is complete, and the darkest reaches are enlightened—the heart’s radiance begins its triumphant return to the world—jubilated by its own annihilation and eager to joyously spread its newfound wisdom with the collective (Sagittarius into Capricorn, Aquarius, & Pisces seasons).


Related Reading:

Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts by Jeremy Naydler

Initiation by Elisabeth Haich

Sacred Sexuality in Ancient Egypt by Ruth Schumann Antelme & Stephane Rossini

Shamanic Egyptian Astrology by Linda Star Wolf & Ruby Falconer

Nekhbet-Maat-Bast--Priestess of Initiation by CK Alexander
Nekhbet-Ma'at-Bast: Priestess of Initiation, 2015.


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