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Review of Sacred Verses By Storm Faerywolf

NOTE: This feature was originally published in The Wild Hunt on March 19, 2022 and is reprinted here with the written permission of the author.

Storm Faerywolf is a professional author, experienced teacher, visionary poet, and practicing warlock. He was trained in various streams of initiatic witchcraft, most notably the Faery tradition, where he holds the Black Wand of a Master. He is the founder of the BlueRose lineage, with students and initiates across the globe. Author of “Betwixt & Between”, “Forbidden Mysteries of Faery Witchcraft”, and the forthcoming "The Satyr's Kiss", he is committed to rekindling the ancient connections between humankind and the Hidden Kingdom. He lives with his loving partners in the San Francisco Bay area and travels internationally teaching the magical arts.

In times of darkness what sustains us is the memory of light. This month I wanted to take a moment to step away from the doomscrolling; the over-saturation of the stress from what seems to be an increasingly darkening world and focus a bit on something positive.

 

Here, let us lift up other queer voices who sing of the beauty of the world and who remind us of the spiritualty in the everyday moment. The divine in the Earth. In our bodies. Consider this a spiritual tonic meant to uplift and nourish, to strengthen and fortify our souls.

 

Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa is an internationally noted iconographer, craftsman, spiritual teacher, and human rights advocate. He is perhaps best known for his stunning art, which is inspired by the ancient gods of Egypt.

His pieces are more than simply “art”. They are devotional portals designed to transport the viewer into a space of divine connection and rapture.

 

But his visual art is just one aspect of his divine offerings. Enter “Sacred Verses: Entering the Labyrinth of the Gods.” This book was originally written in 2016 but was just recently published in both hardcover and paperback, giving readers an opportunity to dive into the rich and sensual landscape of Nofra-Uaa’s masterful work.

 

Full disclosure: I received a hardcover copy of this book from the author as a gift and having been a fan of his artwork and being a poet myself, was eager for the opportunity to delve into the poetic revelry. I was not disappointed.

 

Each poem is an invocation to the ancient gods, but remarkably this book does not force the reader into any specific culture or tradition. While the gods are ever-present in this work, and the flavor of ancient Egyptian culture and philosophy is present like a noticeable spice, there are no mentions of specific deity names. This gives this work a broad appeal, opening the door for practitioners from many different magical paths to gain benefit.

 

The themes are universal: birth, life, death, humankind’s place on earth and the cosmos, the vast mystery of the cosmos and the gods. While at times more specific cultural symbols may emerge, they do not detract from the universalism of the work. The crocodile and the hippopotamus, for example, are not animals usually thought of in the larger neo-Pagan sense, but take their rightful places of power in a Kemetic philosophy, and so their presence here (along with the occasional reference to the “ba,” an ancient Egyptian term for part of the human soul) serve as gentle reminders of the origin of this particular work and the religious passions of the author.

 

Nofra-Uaa draws from the natural world and expresses a religious experience not confined by establishments, traditions, or dogma, but instead draws from the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the body itself, to describe a religious state devoid of shame or spiritual fascism.

“Religious engagement is the horse we ride through the spheres of influence inhabited by our gods. This religious engagement, not being the institutions of organized religion or inflexible doctrine, but rather the framework provided by traditions that offer a means for touching the Holy Powers directly and drawing personal gnosis from Them.”

–Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa, from the introduction

 

Nofra-Uaa reaffirms the prime authority of universal connection, and the process of moving through death and decay and into the rapturous light. To be immersed in the flows of these sacred verses is to sail across the seas of time and spirit, to face the abyss, and to return with the wisdom of the shadow. This is a recurring theme, expressed beautifully in the line, “We are all shadows, traveling through the open doors of the Earth.” There is an awareness of the transformative process of the spirit. This spirituality is a verb, taking action where others might be content to sit and simply be. There is an urgency here: to absorb every moment, to be present for every mundane second, for here it is revealed that the world in which we live –the bodies in which we live– is the foundation of everything; the secret door into another world that was ours all along, if only we had the eyes to see and the ears to listen.

 

This is a book that revels in the spiritualty of the physical, recognizing the divine rapturous presence within all things. The poetry is passionate and rich, offering the reader an opportunity to delve deeply into the sensuality of the world around them, opening a sacred gateway into the numinous. Like all poetry, in my opinion, they are best when read aloud, giving the spoken words the impetus to make their magic more fully known. Any magical group that wishes to focus on deepening their ability to collectively shift into altered states of devotional awareness would benefit greatly from performing shared reads of these sacred verses.

 

In times of darkness what sustains us is the memory of light. Books and art like these keep that memory alive.

 

Sacred Verses can be purchased here. Nofra-Uaa’s art can be viewed at this website.

 

[EDIT: An earlier version erroneously stated that ‘Sacred Verses’ was published in 2016. While written in 2016 it wasn’t published until late December 2021. We apologize for the error.]

Reflections On Sacred Verses By Lo

NOTE: This feature was originally posted to Lo's rotwork blog on March 12, 2022. Lo is the deeply gifted author of Art & Numen and founder of Numen Arts.

It took me a while to get through this compendium of poetry by renowned iconographer and priest Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa, and it’s taken me a while to digest it enough to have something to say.

 

I’ll start with the basic: Sacred Verses is 200 pages of divinely-inspired poetry. It takes, as I see it, a loosely narrative form, with Ptahmassu as protagonist, initiate, Holy Fool. Though really, we are all partaking of the mythic story, and when we read it, we are all, however briefly, Ptahmassu. We are all on the journey.

I walk with the Gods. They came before us with the rising waters, and They have never departed, even as our memory faded. They are our mothers and fathers, our beginning and our end.

-33: I Walk With Spirits

The pages drip with a passion for the Gods, and a passion for personal fulfillment and transformation, with a verve one doesn’t often see outside of ritual. We are guided, step by step, through a long, intricate, beautiful labyrinth, colored by the shades of the Nile.

 

Not being a Kemeticist, there were some things I didn’t understand – I had to look up what a tamarisk was for instance – but on the whole, it drinks so deeply from the well of the western magical tradition that I didn’t have much other trouble following along. It speaks with such great sweeps that it calls to the innermost wordless, mythic beingness in each of us, while simultaneously delivering such specificity at times that one gets goosebumps at it’s sudden “nearness”.

 

Stylistically, each of the 42 poems – probably echoing a significant symbolic number in Kemetic or occult thought? – remind me of Ptahmassu’s iconographic works in their construction. They are highly detailed, laborous works, evocative of the precious stones and metals that he uses with such seeming effortlessness in his depictions of the Gods. Like his icons, too, they are bursting with color and symbol, filled with references to stars and trees and animals and layers of heaven. He writes with gilded words, gleaming in the sun.

 

And on less a mythic note, Ptamassu’s pieces are generally free-form, with occasional punctuations of rhyming verse that remind you of the ritualistic nature of the work. In fact, stanzas or entire poems could easily be utilized in ritual for almost any practitioner, which provides immense magical use beyond the beauty of the poetry itself.

 

For me, personally, the book arrived at an auspicious time in my life – when I was gathering the courage and wherewithal to finally come out to my friends and family as a trans man, after navigating the closet and pondering on identity for the better part of a decade. My earliest trans memory, as I reminded my parents in my letter to them, was of looking in a bathroom mirror at my bloodied, five-year-old face after I’d gotten hold of a blue Gillette and tried to shave. (And o, the magical repercussions of a blue-handled blade!)

 

So if there’s a “thesis” in Sacred Verses, it is undoubtedly on the subject of transformation, death and rebirth.

Initiation, I have found you in each of the forms I have taken

in each of the ages of my life,

when I change my bodies like I change my clothes.

I carry on the inside what cannot be carried over on the outside,

and these are the only treasures I may carry in my empty arms,

when I arrive at that gap in the world where the Sun does not shine.

-12: Sol Invictus

For me, more important than being a sacred set of instructions written in mythic verse, it was a reminder that this thing we call “the sacred” is manifest in mundane deliberations and decisions, because it is manifest in all things. The Gods are in all things. No movement in the universe is made without Their lubrication, no word uttered that is not grown from Their soil. “Hey mom and dad, I’m your son” is as much an invocation as drawing down the moon. Coming out to myself was one thing, but declaring it to the Other, the Outside-Myself, felt like a shift in reality. Because it was: I had just told the universe to change the gender marker on my forms, and that was the sound of a single cog being shifted in the infinitude of its sacred clockworks. I had become a slightly, yet wholly, different being. The clay had suddenly lurched on the potter’s wheel.

May the Gods open a lotus,

for my face of youthful power.

May the Gods open a lotus for my mirror of the dawning hour.

-37: May the Gods Open A Door

Xipe Totec is one of the Teteo associated most closely with transformation and rebirth. He’s also the ruler of my Tonalli, the day sign I was born under. I never much thought about Him before I had my Tonalli reading done (by one of our very own community members on Discord!), but looking back, the theme of in-between-ness, becoming, nepantla, of ever-emerging from the “golden raiment” of the old, has been a continuously pointed theme for me. Now that I’m working on taking the mundane steps toward living as my authentic self, what that authenticity means is constantly going to be renegotiated. We are constantly shedding our bodies and growing new ones, just as we are constantly shedding old ideas and identities and shaping new ones, all on a microscopic level. I hope I don’t have to do any more lurching around on the potter’s wheel any time soon, and can instead enjoy the feeling of the fingers of the Gods steady on my wet clay, slowly, kindly shaping me into a more perfect vessel.

 

And I look forward to revisiting Sacred Verses when the time does come for it again.

Wyrd Twine’s Sacred Verses Experience

 

“If you come here,

You come to the beginning.

Naked, stripped of all your world’s impositions,

You receive the inheritance of the All,

the Gods, the Spirits, the Ancestors and their kin.

These are the constellations dwelling

in the heaven of creation,

embraced by Memory,

beneath the roots of all the worlds.”

-pg 41, 6: Under the World Tree

 

In a hotel room, I lay naked, my hands still cold from the sacrifice I gave to my Gods. The eyes of Urd were intense and Her gaze still lingers even now as I type this. Nearby on a couch was a book. It had arrived right when I was preparing for the hotel stay and ritual. Its timing could not have been more perfect. I knew my beloved Goddesses wanted this book to be with me, that my journey and path will be similar to what is inside.

Sacred Verses: Entering the Labyrinth of the Gods by Ptahmassu K.M. Nofra-Uaa is a book that- like the sacred art he helps birth- puts one in the presence of the Gods. For me, I can tell it will be a companion in my own birthing and shaping that my Gods have offered me. As of now, I’m not allowed to read too far. I am suppose to read it at Their pace and urging. Anytime I try, I become unfocused and not able to comprehend what is being said. The verses are meant to be contemplated, and you can’t rush a birthing experience. I find that I cannot describe the meaning of the passages I have read in words. The layers of meaning are understood in my mind by the visualizations they produce. I experience so vividly what is described by the masterful use of prose used in the book. Maybe others will find those words I so lack?

Sacred Verses lends itself well to bibliomancy and support to divination readings. My tarot readings are now more free form than specific spreads. I try to let my Gods or Ancestors guide my hands in the choosing of the cards and where they are placed. At my previous tarot reading, I felt a push or urge to open the book after I had written down the messages from the cards. I was guided to read where I had left off last time, but to connect what I read with the messages I received. Chapter 5 The Eternal Twining is what I read, and a particular passage stood out to me at the time.

 

“This is the song of a soul in flight from confinement.

Though do we know how we are confined,

until the moment of our release?”

 

It felt as if the whole reading was summed up in these lines. It was clarification and a question my Gods have given me to answer.

I don’t have a specific method to offer on using the book for divination. The only advice I have is let your Gods and Ancestors guide you. I find They guide me better than anything I could do on my own. So do what you find is right for you. I am thankful to the Gods and to Ptahmassu for this book. I hope that my experience will be of some help to you who are reading this. @WyrdTwine

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