||Sa Sekhem Sahu!
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Egypt, 1965. While exploring the ancient temples of Luxor, Genevieve Vaughan and her husband stumble upon an almost-forgotten statue at the bottom of a dark staircase -- a figure with the face of a lion and the body of a woman, seated upon a throne. When questioned, their tour guide explains that its a representation of the Ancient Egyptian deity, Sekhmet, and that if Genevieve touches the statue and makes a promise, the Goddess will grant her a wish. Gen, then 26, had recently begun seeing doctors about her inability to conceive a child and still vividly recalls her exact words to Sekhmet: "If you make me pregnant, I'll build a temple to you." Within a month, she was expecting her first child. Twenty-eight years and three daughters later, the fulfillment of her promise came to life in the midst of the Mojave Desert, just a few short miles from the Nevada nuclear test site.
The land now dominated by the test site once belonged to the Western Shoshone, and in 1992 Genevieve purchased 20 acres alongside Gamblers Highway (Nevada state highway 95, the most direct route between Reno and Las Vegas) and donated the bulk of the land to the tribe, retaining a 2 acre lot for the temple site. Located just to the east of the small copse of trees that marks Cactus Springs oasis, the Temple of Sekhmet (more formally known as The Temple of Goddess Spirituality, Dedicated to Sekhmet) was consecrated in 1993 and has served as a sanctuary and refuge for Goddess-worshippers and peace activists from around the world ever since. Built of sand-colored stucco over chicken wire and straw, the Temple lies open to the elements, with four large arched doorways and an open roof, capped by a dome of seven lightening-friendly, interlocking copper hoops. Designed to Gens specifications by New Mexico architect Molly Neiman, it is well suited to surviving the harsh climate of the Mojave, just as Sekhmet a Goddess of fertility, righteous anger, and both the destructive and healing aspects of the fierce desert sun is well suited to serve as its metaphysical hostess.
Her physical counterpart, Crone Witch Patricia Pearlman, serves as full-time priestess and Temple manager and lives a short walk from the Temple itself. Each year she hosts a full Wiccan calendar of events, celebrating eight Sabbats, thirteen Full Moons and thirteen New Moons. In addition, global peacemaking efforts and personal rites of passage such as weddings, spiritual dedications and passings are honored as they arise. Also located on the Temple grounds is a fully equipped guesthouse, which is free to all visitors -- or in Patricias words, The only thing we want you to pay is respect. However, both the Temple and the guesthouse are non-profit, non-commercial examples of gift economy and survive primarily on the generous free-will donations of labor and materials from the community they serve. Visitors are encouraged to help out any way they can, as indicated by the helpful hints located throughout the guesthouse (Dishes love to be washed, Floors enjoy being mopped) as well as the donation wish list posted near the front door, which includes everything from soup to bunk beds to a new water heater.
Approach the Temple from the guesthouse, climbing up from the usually dry creek bed through cottonwood trees and creosote bushes, and youll find yourself surrounded by prayer flags and wind chimes. Approach it from the nearby highway, crossing the seemingly desolate expanse of sand, cactus and scrub brush that dominates the Mojave, and youll pass messages of welcome from both Patricia and Sekhmet and large, flat rocks serving as impromptu altars. These are covered with an ever-changing assortment of offerings flowers, photographs, stones, shells, toys, handmade artwork representing the prayers and gratitude of recent visitors.
The inside of the Temple is presided over by two life-sized statues created by Native American artist Marsha Gomez -- Sekhmet on Her throne in the southeast and Madre del Mundo (Mother of the World, an indigenous Mother Earth tenderly cradling a globe) in the northwest. As the primary guardian of the Temple, Sekhmet sits alone, but the shelves in the other corners and along the other walls overflow with representations of Goddess spirituality from many different cultures and time periods, many of which were handmade specifically for the Temple. Suitable for everything from private meditation to large group rituals, the Temple provides a cool refuge from the sun during the heat of the day and holds its warmth well into the cool desert night.
A sacred sanctuary to some, the Temple is an anathema to others jets and helicopters from the nearby Air Force base buzz Cactus Springs during their test flights, a commercial mining company has petitioned the Bureau of Land Management to build a sand and gravel pit on a nearby lot of public land, and in 1999 a bar opened directly across the highway from Patricias home. Despite these disturbances, and with the help of the Western Shoshone tribe, the Temples energies remain positive, down to earth and calming. Visitors continue to come from all over the world to seek the blessings of Sekhmet and Her sister Goddesses, finding strength and peace and in many cases having their own wishes fulfilled.
Cactus Springs oasis and the Temple of Sekhmet are located alongside Nevada Highway 95, approximately 30 miles north of Las Vegas and 3 miles north of Indian Springs. Photos of the Temple and a schedule of upcoming rituals are available online at www.sekhmettemple.com. Please note that on New Moon nights the Temple and guesthouse are women-only space and due to recent problems with vandalism all nighttime visits to the Temple must be pre-arranged with Patricia, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-879-3263.
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