The golden haze of light began to fill the sky as the orb of the sun ascended over the crest of the immense sand dunes. The rays seemed to kiss the Great Sphinx, standing majestic and proud over the domain of ancient Egypt.
Near the crest of the dunes a tiny black dot crawled its way up the massive hillside. In its small pinchers it pushed a dung ball, emulating the motion of the rising sun. Contained within were the precious contents of the creature’s eggs. These eggs were destined to hatch in symbolic tribute to the Egyptian concept of rebirth and resurrection. This creature is the scarab beetle. The scarab takes its place among the Egyptian deities in the god Khephri.
I realized the scarab was an important symbol that has traveled with me for as long as I can remember. Scarab rings and pendants and scarab objects have somehow always appeared on my altar and in my jewelry boxes. I couldn’t say where I acquired any of these items or when exactly.
During my undergrad years at Loyola Marymount University scarab called to me as a research topic from an art historical perspective and I wrote about the heart scarab used in the funerary context and as a magical and medicinal amulet in ancient Egypt.
As a milestone marker in earning my M.A. from Pacifica Graduate Institute I knew I wanted my second tattoo. As with my first I trusted the design would reveal itself to me. (I already knew I was to return to the artist who did my first tattoo: Lantz, owner/operator at Shoebox Tattoo). In the quarter following my M.A. completion date and embarking on my Ph.D. path I studied Egyptian mythology. Scarab again spoke to me and, with Lantz’s expertise, my design manifested.
Symbolism of transformation and rebirth have accompanied me for years, predominately in the form of snake: I dance with snakes; snake is my Chinese astrological sign; snake is my spiritual companion; and snake naturally is integrated in my first tattoo design.
Scarab, as we have discussed, is another symbol of transformation.
The scarab is commonly depicted holding the solar disc in its front pinchers, which I adopted into my design. The sun held great reverence in Egyptian spirituality and the primary ruling deity in their pantheon was Ra, the Sun God, the Creator.
Unique to my design is the contrast of the moon held in its back pinchers, surrounded by sprinkles of stars. My name, Selena, stems from Selene, the Greek goddess of the moon. Selene was also the name of the daughter of Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra III.
Also included in my design is the Eye of Horus. The Eye of Horus is a symbol of protection, power, and good health. The Eye of Horus relates to the cobra headed goddess Wadjet. The hooded cobra lifts itself in a gesture of protection, and again, my personal symbols share the theme of serpent. The elite and the deities of ancient Egypt wore crowns and headdresses depicting the cobra.
Wadjet is also related to the goddesses Bast, Sekhmet, Mut, and Hathor. Lately I have been working energetically with the archetype of Sekhmet, the lion headed goddess of rebirth.
Are we seeing similar themes?
(This particular artwork of Sekhmet is non-traditional but one I really appreciate, particularly due to the inclusion of the dragon in the sky.)
I am very excited to carry this symbolism with me in an artistically revealing manner. Scarab will continue to remind me of my accomplishments, my growth, and the value of rebirth and transformation as I continue my journeys.