Oh, You Fool.

When I was a baby Kemetic, surfing the KO website for a name of a goddess I could give my attention to, I found the name of Ma’at listed there. I was immediately entranced with this goddess because she was both a being and a concept. Almost nothing of value that I had access to at the time was written about her, but I chose her to be my starting point on this path. It took me a long time to realize that she had no interest in me.

During this childlike phase, I had a dream that seemed to indicate I needed to get a tattoo in her honor. So, I had one of my local tattoo artists put her name in a cartouche on my shoulder. I also had a feather of ma’at placed above her name. Years later, I was told that I got the message wrong. It was about living in ma’at, not the goddess herself. The tattoo is permanent so it’s a reminder nowadays to be really sure I know what the fuck the gods want from me.

We all make mistakes when it comes to the messages our gods send us. I am no different.

Hell. I still get shit wrong.

The Stranger

It was mid-to-late 2018 when the song from Lord Huron would crop up in my liked song list more often than usual. When it would play on my walks, while I cleaned, driving somewhere, I could feel my heart rate pick up and a feeling of uneasiness come over me. The message was from Sekhmet; a reminder that death is waiting for us all and not to be scared when the Year of Rebirth began. It took far longer than I am willing to admit to realize that the message was never from Sekhmet. A different god was pulling the strings on this.

I was coldly furious when I realized the truth. How dare he use my relationship with her to contact me thus? How dare he use my carefully curated playlists to speak to me? How dare he come to me at all? I think TTR was amused when I admitted the truth of the matter; it took me so fucking long to figure it out. But from cold rage to acceptance I went and began creating a playlist for Osiris too, one that put the song right at the top as a reminder that I wasn’t afraid to die.

Osiris didn’t want too much from me; only my death. A benefit for all gods involved (Ra, Sekhmet, him) with me as the catalyst. He recommended that I beef up my calendar for the year of 2019 and almost threatened to see me later. Sekhmet took the first few months of rebirth; Ra the middle portion; and Osiris formed the basis of the last four months. It was a busy time, trying to ensure that all gods were reaping the benefits of the Year of Rebirth project.

When Ra’s presence began to dim out around Samhain and the clock change, Osiris geared up and began taking his place. He spoke to me at first via the ancestors since it is through him that they have any basis at all. But as Ra faded down to a pinprick of light in my life, Osiris was there in stereo to take over the reigns. As the cold of winter began sweeping through the world, it was the green-faced one who spoke the loudest out of all of them. Though speak is a euphemism; he seems to prefer intuition and dreams to actual speech.

He was gentle, but firm. I needed that after years of not engaging with him on purpose. He was never supposed to be for me, much like Ra was never supposed to be mine. My engagement with Osiris had been minimal at best. I knew enough to get by but not nearly as much as others. He didn’t seem to mind how limited my information about him was. As it stands, I know more than I give myself credit for and the thanks for that falls squarely on TTR’s shoulders.

He watched me die and I was grateful for the audience.

As the closing of the Year of Rebirth and the Year of Rites came ever closer, the world around us continued to cool. And in the frost of the mornings and the frozen air of the afternoon, he spoke of a future that encapsulated more than mere death but a continuous rebirth cycle from here until forever. We dreamed of green plants and cookies together. He said the grave was only the beginning.

Beyond the Grave

Those of us who have had associations with Osiris often see him within the paradigm of a river. I am no different. I often see him standing thigh-deep in charcoal gray waters, looking introspective as he takes in the sights. But beyond the river stands the idea that it is through Osiris that all things have come into being. No matter which portion of history attributed various identifiers to his mythos, one keeps coming back to the fact that Osiris is as much the alpha and omega as Ra is.

Years ago, I was reading MHMM and a specific passage relative to Osiris pinged loudly for me:

Next the ostracon hymn continues with an unusual evocation of Osiris as the backbone of Egypt, the ground upon which the whole of Egyptian culture is built. Upon his spine rest the houses, the temples, the monuments, all the fields and tombs, and it is proclaimed that there are no empty spaces on the god’s body…

Without this stable foundation which is provided by Osiris, it is impossible to imagine that Egyptian culture could have survived three thousand years. He is the solid base, the enduring ground upon which the whole of Egypt rested.

It is as the base of the pillar that I spied Osiris staring back at me. It was as if he always knew that I would end up in this space, looking at him with a mix of fear and worry. I got the distinct image of a house’s foundation: a thick gray square of concrete open-mouthed and yawning at the sun that passed over it every day. This imagery was the very same foundation ping that I often came across in my relationship with Ptah, and by its association, with Ptah-Tatenen.

The image of the gray foundation morphed into a gray and dusty spinal column. From each nodule of the bones, I could see flowers and wheat, corn and apple trees. I had come full-circle, it seemed; from one who sees him only in death to one who finally saw him in the cycle of life.

One of the things that TTR and I have talked about at length is that Osiris is more than simply a deity associated with death. The myth cycle that we know tends to lose the thread of his associations with rebirth, rejuvenation, and green-living because most people only remember him as the god who was murdered by his brother and his son had to hide till adulthood to fight his uncle for the right to rule. While not everyone forgets this, it’s easy to push off the green aspects of his domain because we hear people talk about The Contendings so frequently.

But as we moved forward, I saw him more and more in the world around me. The golden shimmer of winter wheat and the ornamental grasses that populated the road side. It was as if he were telling me that he had always been there, I merely had to look with opened eyes and not the closed one that I preferred.

This felt a little like a game of hide-and-seek. As the winter wrapped its chilly fingers around the world around me, I began to see him in everything. I found him in places he had no business being and shrank back from the implications of every new instance until I came to a sort of acceptance about it all.

He was here, and he was here to stay.

The Appointed Time

At the time change in November, Osiris came upon me with a dramatic flourish just as Ra was leaving. It was as if he had been waiting in the wings, waiting for this very moment, to appear to me and say that it was time for us to truly begin this journey together. He began appearing around an ancient festival that began on Halloween, a festival about Horus welcoming the Nile.

Within two weeks of Osiris coming to me and Ra leaving, the Osiris Mysteries were upon me and I began to catalogue the differences between what I had known before and what I was beginning to suspect would occur after all of this was over. Osiris asked merely for the trappings of the Osiris Mysteries; he seemed to be implying that more serious things would come later.

He claimed the winter absolutely and totally. Everything about that winter whispered his name to me. The snow upon the ground, cold and crusted over with ice. The flittering red wings of cardinals fighting over resources in the backyard. The twinkle lights of Christmas on barren shrubs and trees. The false spring that caused old-timers and farmers to whisper about climate change. The roar of winter’s breath decimating sensitive skin on cheeks and lips. Everywhere I looked, there he was. He assured me that he would never leave with promises that both frightened me and beckoned to me.

As the world entered the beginning of spring, Osiris became pushy and forceful but only in small doses. He would come upon me as if I were waiting for him and give me direction, or a reminder of something. His presence seemed to be growing dimmer, not unlike what happened with Ra the previous fall. It was as if the louder the animals in the backyard grew and the higher the plants climbed above the soil, the quieter he became. It felt a bit like he was throwing all of his energy into the push for spring, the push of new life that was just around the corner.

As I looked to the calendar to remember when things would most likely change, I found three final Osiris holidays added to my calendar at some unknown previous time. The three holidays were scheduled to take place just after the time change. They seemed to be the types of farewell that he needed to truly leave to give Ra the chance to take over again. These holidays felt a bit like a good-bye before the switch between gods could truly begin.

Go Back to Start

When I began to question what the purpose of this religious life was, I knew that things would change. I didn’t know how the questioning would cause things to change, but I knew that what I had grown with and created over the years would change in its entirety. I’ve come to accept this, although [as always] I doubt that I am truly ready for any of this.

Around Imbolc, I found myself researching plants that are most often associated with the holiday. As I had mentioned then, I found it difficult to see my gods in those commonly ascribed plants. But eventually, I did find Osiris in many places that I couldn’t find in a book. I found other gods there, too, of course, but it was the presence of Osiris that ensnared me like I was a fly caught in the web of a spider. He seemed to be speaking to me soul to soul instead of mouth to ear.

As the months go by, I’ve come to realize that I like the idea of finding gods in the world around me, which is why I often ask myself whether this is a good thing or not. I’ve thought about why this means so much to me now when nothing before seemed to mean as much. I think it’s because, as a child growing up in a Methodist church, I could never really feel like God was anywhere but inside the church that we attended. I don’t know why I couldn’t see that God in the world around me, but I couldn’t. And as I continue moving forward on this unused path ahead of me, all I can do is see my gods in everything.

I asked him once what he thought about being a local god to a place that had never known him. I had the distinct impression that he took my question seriously, but he never really gave me an answer. I didn’t exactly expect one because he doesn’t seem to like answering in that way. He seems to prefer the idea of strewing clues about on the ground for me to find as I stumble across them. As my dreams have oft shown, he seems to like the concept of making me build the puzzle on my own.

But that question bothers me more and more as the days go by. It nags me in a way that I can’t quite explain. Who am I to see foreign gods in a land that was brutally stolen from indigenous cultures? How dare I stumble upon my gods here? But are these beings even my gods? Is it possible someone else’s gods wear the face of mine to whisper sweet nothings in my ear because they want, more than anything they want, to be remembered?

I’m hoping that one day, I find the answer to these questions. And that the guilt of this ancestor of colonial brutalizers can perhaps, maybe not be fully absolved, but reconciled with.

In Conclusion…

Just before Osiris left to make way for Ra, I found myself listening to The Yawning Grave by Lord Huron over and over again. I couldn’t have said what it was about the song that hit me so palpably until Osiris came to me in a dream, singing to me as if he were the singer of the song. He hit me hard with it, as if he needed to inject a little piece of himself into me while we separated for a while.

Osiris, like Ra before him, made it crystal clear that there was no going back now and that he would return in the fall. The cycle has begun again and there is nothing I could do to stop it. I don’t really want to because, as I’ve mentioned, I am quite interested to see where all of this is going and I haven’t felt that type of interest in my religion in a long time. It’s possible I become dissatisfied with these changes, but a part of me believes this direction is exactly where I needed to go when I wrote about how unhappy I was with the way things were.

One morning, shortly after Ostara, we woke up to snow on the ground. It was a dusting really and it disappeared as quickly as it came on us. I stood outside under the awning, marveling at the beauty of pure white snow on pine needles and at the base of my favorite tree. I felt the icy, cold fingers of Osiris on my cheek as if in final parting. And I knew that while the months ahead will be hot and belong to Ra, I would be looking forward to the cooler months and shorter days of Osiris.

Stand in the Sun.

As a baby pagan, after I had gluttoned myself on all the books by all of the authors that older pagans cringe at now, I found a website that told me believing and worshiping the ancient Egyptian gods was real. Floored by what I had found, I read through the list of names of the gods over and over again. I formed their names with my lips and wondered what worshiping them might look like. And as I went through those list of names, perhaps influenced by early divine goddess rumblings or merely my own past, I swore I would never worship the male deities. They had had enough worship; I would only honor the women goddesses.

I’ve thought about that time in my life and I’ve come to the conclusion that this was a childish form of rebellion against the wrong religion. All my life, I had been indoctrinated to believe that while God has no true sex, it was He this and He that. I was tired of all the He. Even my irritable changing the He in prayers and Bible readings to She wasn’t enough. I was sick of male deities after living a lifetime suckling the teet of male deity propaganda. (Side note: churches should only use They for God now.) So, I decided the ladies was where my attention would go and that was that.

Hoo boy, has shit changed in 20 years.

A Wild God Appears

In very late 2018, shortly after Samhain, I felt the first real kick from Ra. I was distinctly uncomfortable with the attention. As anyone who may have followed me for a while knows, we don’t get on. But there he was like a towering statue out of the thick fog. I knew why of course; the 2019 Year of Rebirth project may have started off about Sekhmet but it really was about more than just she.

One thing I’ve found more and more as I go deeper down this road is the fact that hard polytheism only works so much when it comes to the NTRW. If you’re working on things for one deity, invariably what you’re doing will no doubt effect or benefit others. Sekhmet, created from Ra’s power, is as connected to the other gods as the rest of them. Dying for Sekhmet’s benefit was dying for Ra’s benefit.

He was patient and quiet, which is what I needed to get over some things. Say what we will about gods busting down doors without knocking, occasionally they seem to be able to read the room before they even get in there. So he was mostly quiet while I came to terms with the idea that he was around, he was going to stay around, and that most likely his presence would continue well past 2019.

It didn’t start to become more of a relationship until about Spring of 2019. Things started kind of piecing together for us. He asked for very few things other than attention and a few little baubles. I asked him once if this would turn into something more. He kind of snorted and said no. I had assumed originally that this relationship would turn into a shrine, an icon, altar space for prayer. But when I had asked, I got the distinct impression he found my question amusing before he told me no.

He did ask for a daily rite that I had written for him for the Year of Rites project, which I managed to finish before 2018 came to an end. While the Year of Rites project fell apart about midway through 2019, he didn’t seem too unhappy that I had stopped doing the daily rites with the words I had written. I did the physical portion of the rite and that seemed to be enough.

For a while anyway.

Once you start down the rabbit hole, you get a little lost. No matter how many times you try to back track to the start to find your way out, the labyrinth closes up behind you until the only way out is through. The way through looked weird and strange to me. Not completely at any rate, but a good bit of it was new territory. Ra merely said to keep it up; I’d know where the exit was eventually.

That Wasn’t an Exit

As 2019 came to a close, I began to register that Ra’s presence was dimming so to speak. I don’t know how to put it that will make it clearer but as October hit, he seemed to have collapsed in on himself. I assumed it was because the year was starting to come to a close and he needed strength for the actual birth of the new year. I was partially right, but not completely.

It was the week of Samhain that it all came together. The clock change was set to begin the Sunday following Halloween and I could sense that this was it. He was going to do one of those dramatic exits that the gods seem to love to do and leave me with some vague request. The request wasn’t completely vague oddly enough.

“Look beyond the trappings and you’ll find me there,” he seemed to say as his time with me grew ever shorter. I remember standing in my backyard the weekend of the time change and staring at the sky. “My time for now is over. Use this quiet to figure out the puzzle.” Not like I needed clear cut answers anyway.

That winter, as the world cooled and the snow refused to fall, I would look up at the watery light of the sun and wonder what Ra was up to. I would imagine the rays of sunlight trying so desperately to reach me in my backyard but unable to do so through the winter wind and ice cold frost. I tried to play his playlist and found it didn’t work for the way the land and world around me had changed to winter.

The trappings are encapsulated by my altar room. That was the place where I found my gods over and over again and while I have pieces that are designated for Ra in there, I had never really felt him there. He was always outside, in the land, in the air, and in the world around me. I had looked beyond the trappings and found the god in the natural world.

This isn’t strange; it’s not abnormal. I’ve long had a local cultus push for my gods, but it was Ra who solidified it in a way I hadn’t been able to do until he showed up. The physical reminders of worship and altars are for the priests; the natural world and the worship within is for everyone else.

Timing is Everything

Since Ra all but disappeared at the time change, I wondered if I could expect him back in 2020 when it changed again. I waited throughout the winter, wondering if my hunch was correct. The Tuesday prior to the time change, my calendar told me there were Ra festivities coming up (feast for three or four days in his and the Irt-Ra honor) and just after the time change, the Divine Birth of Ra lined up nicely with his return.

I looked back to see what was going on, calendar-wise, in October as I hadn’t been paying as much attention to the holiday alerts since fall is a busy holiday time for my calendar. Nothing so concrete as a “say bye to the sun” but there were a few hints that I missed back then, which will become important in another entry.

It seemed that I had figured out that my relationship with Ra was to coincide with the world around me. As spring approached and the whispers of birds and plants began to grow louder, I could feel him more and more in the air and beside me. I remember waking up one morning between the time change and Ostara whispering, “oh there you are.” And there he was.

He hasn’t given any directives since he showed up and other than a matter-of-fact hello-how-are-you, he’s been pretty quiet while I try to figure out what all of this means. It’s one thing to understand, finally, the reason and the push, but it’s quite another to turn it into reality.

I kind of feel like I’ve been stumbling along, occasionally picking up clues and messages that tell me I’m headed forward to somewhere else. After talking about this a bit with TTR, I was happy to find that I’m not the only one in this boat, but it doesn’t necessarily help anyone at all. We may all be headed in the same direction, but who really knows what it will all look like at the end of the day?

Ra, probably.

The Beginning is Now

My local cultus push has been a thing for some years now. It started in fits and spurts around 5 years ago, maybe more, and has been increasingly felt throughout the rest of my relationships with my gods. Part of this push has caused decay in some of my relationships (Sekhmet and Ptah, who I have yet to find in the world around me) and solidified others in ways I hadn’t ever expected (Heru-Wer, Hetheru, and of course Ra).

Over the winter, I read through Hathor: A Reintroduction… by Lesley Jackson. One of the quotes that I ended up posting on my Tumblr has stayed with me most often, especially now that I understand the next phase of where this relationship with Ra is supposed to go:

…but the Egyptians also detected her presence in nature; in the rustling of papyrus in the swamps, in the breeze through sycamore leaves and in places in the desert where there were conspicuous outcrops of rock

P 198, Hathor: A Reintroduction to an Ancient Egyptian Goddess by Lesley Jackson

This isn’t, by all means, the only clue-by-four that’s showed up leading me down this road, but it’s the one that stuck with me the most often. Usually it comes up when I’m sitting outside, staring up at the sun and trying to parse out the nuance of how local cultus is supposed to formulate the basis for many things going forward.

All of this, whatever this may actually end up being, is a reset in a manner of speaking. The ongoing path project has always been a bit of a disappointment for me. I’ve always felt the push in one direction and never really felt comfortable in going that way. But I’m reminded that my path is ever-evolving and has always been best summed up by the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken.

Now, the path ahead is forged with oak and grass, bees and tree frogs, hawks and owls, mayflower and staghorn sumac. There are gods within these places as there always has been; the gods of these places may be gone now or colonized into silence, but there are other gods who seem to want to be found there, gods who have followed me for most of my life in some form or another. And while I’m not sure whether I have the right to see them there since I am living on land stolen from indigenous peoples, I see them there anyway.

In Conclusion…

In February, I did a month-ahead Tarot reading for the month of March. I didn’t foresee the pandemic (sorry) since I was looking at myself. The Theme of the Month was a card called Spellwork, which we can sum up as meaning this: “create a recipe of your own choosing; gather the ingredients together to gain clarity and insight; you know exactly what you need so follow your intuition.” If that doesn’t tell me what I need to know, then what does?

Ra has made it very clear that he is here to stay and while sometimes I still feel like this is all an elaborate prank on the stupid human, sometimes I think everything will be okay. His entrance into my life has overtaken many other areas of my practice, almost like he’s clearing the slate to a point where I can actually start over. I’m a little hesitant only because I don’t want to fully sacrifice the carefully created relationships I’ve already made, but I’m also interested to see how this could play out. And I can admit that I haven’t felt interested in my religion in a very long time.

The other day, as I was taking my daily walk, the sun threw its life-giving rays between a thick scattering of white pines. The rays of the sun were clear and reflected off of a small creek that traveled through the wooded area. I managed to snap a picture of it, and it looks like there are two suns: one in the sky and one on the ground. The rays of both suns meet in the middle in a sort of new horizon. I take a lot of nature pictures, but that’s my favorite so far. I think it neatly captures my religious life and where it’s always been headed.

Lent 2020.

It was early February when I polled my office and asked them what I should give up for Lent. I’ve been out of good ideas for a long time, so I figured I would put the question up to group-think. It was practically unanimous: they chose diet Coke which makes sense. I drink a lot of it. There was one who “courteously abstained” from voting because “Lent is stupid and no one should have to give things up.” I made a polite remark about how I didn’t have much choice about this, and moved on.

Diet Coke [again], it is.

I suppose it could be worse; it could be something I’ve never given up before. I’ve given up diet Coke, and by that act, drinking soda entirely for forty days. I’m a pretty big bitch about it, too. Diet Coke is my afternoon caffeine intake since I dislike drinking coffee after the sun hits the zenith. (I don’t know why; just don’t.) Thus far, I’ve staved off the caffeine headache by shoving a ridiculous amount of sugar into my gullet, but at least I’m properly hydrated throughout the day for once.

A few people at the office seem to think this is the start of me “getting healthy”. This of course means that I would be healthy by their standards, not my own. I know I’m not healthy by any stretch of the imagination (not including mental health in that assessment), but I also find it curious how the conversations always come back to “getting healthy”. It baffles me why they think the person who eats fruits, salad, vegetables, and maintains a calorie count of food intake somehow doesn’t have healthy eating habits, or the ability to manifest them?

It merely goes to show that the people who think this is about healthier living don’t understand the purpose. I wouldn’t expect them to; they aren’t Catholic by any stretch of the imagination. And the gentleman who told me giving things up for Lent was stupid has his own preconceived beliefs and notions relative to this.

Sometimes, I think it might be better to educate the masses than to politely listen to the ideas that others have about all of this, but then I think, why bother? Nothing I would say would change their point of view [probably]. It would fall on deaf ears and I would continue to have to listen to their own points of view on something that is an experience unto itself and has nothing to do with America’s fatphobia.

I suppose I’m just bitter.

The purpose of Lent is more than simply giving something up. We are supposed to be giving up vices; faults in ourselves that can negatively impact us. While one may not necessarily see where diet Coke can be a vice, I say that it is. It is a sort of security blanket against caffeine withdrawal the horrors of the world. Diet Coke doesn’t fail me (although it will with all the plastic that’s probably forming in my brain) the way everything else does.

I knew one woman who would give up gambling and swearing every Lenten season. She would come into work on Ash Wednesday with her smudge of ashes and say that she would keep her language clean and her gambling at bay. She managed every year and she would save her gambling money and put it into her rainy day fund. She never completely gave up either vice of hers though; she needed them to get through another lackluster day just as I need diet Coke for the same.

But this doesn’t really explain it all because Lent is about way more than simply giving things up. I’ve read up on it numerous times – and blogged about my findings for the last 7 fucking years – but I think it was the book I got for Christmas that helped to kind of solidify it all for me.

Remember that we are but dust and ashes, yet by God’s grace we have died in Baptism and have put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Each year we keep these Forty Days with prayer and penance and the practice of charity so that we may come to the Easter festival ready to renew once more the life-giving commitment of our Baptism.P 93, Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers

Also…

May our fasting be hunger for justice;
our alms, a making of peace;
our prayer, the chant of humble and grateful hearts.P 95, Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers

And finally…

The Church asks us to give ourselves to prayer and to the reading of Scripture, to fasting and to giving alms. The fasting that all do is together on Fridays is but a sign of the daily lenten discipline of individuals and households: fasting for certain periods of time, fasting from certain foods, but also fasting from other things and activities. Likewise, the giving of alms is some effort to share this world equally – not only though the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents.P 96, Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers

People get hung up on the idea that something must be given up because that’s what forced down everyone’s throats. How many commercials have people seen about businesses offering fish meals on Fridays at a discount rate? I got hit with a blast of ads about it on various social media platforms as well as Hulu. How many articles have been re-posted or written anew about the giving up of things for Lent? Google gave me 110,000 news articles about the act of giving up things for Lent when I asked.

But it’s also about the giving of charity; you know that very line item that most people seem to forget has a very specific and very central part to all of this? Alms-giving is as much an integral part of this as the denial of vice. We just don’t hear about that part as much because maybe it doesn’t sound as cool or as weird as the act of denying yourself something that you would really rather keep.

And it also requires a focus on your religion. Many people use the time to focus on the reading of Scripture or the focus of prayer. I’ve been getting up in the mornings and trying to say a Hail Mary (I like those). I’m not familiar with the prayer and I stumble over it, but it’s an important part of the Catholic faith and I can remember my grandmother and mother saying Hail Marys when I was a kid. It seemed like a good focus.

But for others, they read through the Bible. They choose maybe a book that they’re not as familiar with, or a specific theme throughout the Forty Days to focus on.

At the heart of all of this, the purpose of the Forty Days is an act of rebirth, an act of renewal. People deny themselves these things and give things away in an act of public mimicry of Jesus’ 40 Days of Fasting in the Desert. At the end of it all, they are [hopefully] ready for the spiritual rebirth that will [again hopefully] occur as part of the celebrations of Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.

I always wonder how many people feel truly renewed at the end of Lent. It’s always been hit or miss with me.

I’m not Catholic and have never been, baptized into the faith though I may have been. I was never confirmed and I don’t see myself going through that. At this point, my Catholic ancestors seem content with dragging me through the processes, directing me to educate myself on what I’m doing and why, and saying the prayers when they want. The veneration of saints has been a recent addition, but it’s here to stay. Besides, who can pass up a good prayer to Saint Anthony when your shit goes missing? (He always comes through.)

I don’t go into the renewal aspect looking to renew my Baptism, or to learn more about Jesus. I always look at it from the perspective of my own chaotic attempts at religion. It’s a time of renewal – something that as a Kemetic I am keenly aware of in many ways – and I use it in an effort to do just that.

I am hoping to renew my path, renew my desire to learn more outside of what I’ve already established, and maybe even renew my desire to continue forward. It can get really hard to want to be religious when everything seems like such a fucking crawl up the sheerest of mountain faces. But I’d like to renew, like to feel a bit of Zep Tepi during the Forty Days ahead. I’d like to… just remember what it felt like to be happy with what I’ve established at any rate.

And hey, maybe I will get with this whole “healthy” business. I doubt it, so don’t assume I’ll succeed, but I’ve been known to surprise even me.

Imbolc 2020.

A few years back, when one of the Wheel of the Year holidays was fast approaching (probably Samhain), I had the unmistakable zing from an ancestor to celebrate it. I refused as that was not my lane, not the right direction, and wasn’t even the right freeway. Nope. No, I think not. And as a consequence, or result whichever, I threw myself harder into ancient Egyptian holidays.

And that went about as well as one could expect because, for those just tuning in, almost every day is a holiday of some sort. This is mostly because modern Kemetics are integrating numerous calendars from various time periods and areas into a single functional calendar. Obviously, you’d want to celebrate only the ones that pertain to you and your relationship with your gods, but uh, even that is still asking a lot.

 

Just know that my entire Google calendar looks very much like this except for the four months I have yet to enter into it.

One thing I’ve found in these celebrations is that I dislike the ritualistic structure of much of what I had come up with. After last years 365ritual nonsense, I realized that I wanted spontaneity versus carefully planned celebrations. It’s possible to do this with our holidays; I just haven’t figured that part out yet and No One is pushing me to do so at the moment. And frankly, with the way my life has been since last October, my ability to can regarding my Kemetic calendar has drastically reduced.

So entered the reminder about how, once upon a time, an unknown-to-me ancestor had said, The Wheel of the Year would be a cool thing to celebrate right?

I know nothing about these holidays, so I pulled out my old copies of the Sabbat books by Llewellyn. Yes, yes, I know how shitty they are. The purpose here wasn’t to use what they talked about or cringe at some of the bullshit within some books, but to at least get a baseline and go from there. I’m less interested in the general pagan ideals of the holiday and more interested in a celebration of life and nature kind of way.

While I tried to start all this off with Yule, I didn’t actually get to celebrate much because of our surprise!bathroom renovation. So I tossed myself into Imbolc. I dithered a lot because most of what I found had a heavy push towards Brighid, who is not part of my pantheon. I also found a lot of very appropriating things that made me uncomfortable (as I figured I would considering the book I used).

But, you know, I figured that I could pull out the Brighid stuff I was finding and maybe make it into something else. Maybe look at it less from the usual point of view one sees across various social media and turn it into something else.

 

Imbolc Without the Appropriation or Gods That Don’t Work for Me

The historical precedent for the holiday is basically a midway point for winter. As my research indicated, this was kind of a positive and happy time because it meant that winter was almost over. And for people who once paid far more attention to the weather and how it impacted their lives, it was a time of celebration because, again, winter was almost over.

The holiday tended to be associated with lambs. The first ewes from mid-fall would be born around this time. This is also when the first spring sowing would begin (as long as there wasn’t snow on the ground) and typically, people who garden will spend the holiday planning out their future garden or at least start their gardens.

Candles and bonfires were a big part of the celebration, too, because it symbolized the lengthening of the upcoming days. Spring cleaning was also important since, after spending quite a few months stuck inside because of the cold and snow, things would be a stagnant energetically. In line with this, purification was a big thing for this holiday too.

There were a lot of things that I could do without following down a road that I found uncomfortable. I decided that I would try the following at least and see how it works out:

  • Create an Imbolc altar
  • Clean the house
  • Light some candles
  • Try and make soda bread
  • Eat cheese and drink milk

I made a little list of various suggestions and decided to at least go forward with the items listed above. There were other items that I included in that list that didn’t feel right or that I didn’t think made sense to me.

I chose not to look at garden planning because I frankly have no clue how to plan a garden. I know that I want to plant the mint I got for Christmas in a container all its own and that I want to replant the paper whites I planted for the Osiris Mysteries (note to self, maybe finish those entries finally) somewhere in my yard. But other than the knowledge that I need some lilacs everywhere, I have no clue what else needs to be done. So, I figured I could table that until I have a serious chat with my mother-in-law about where things should go in the yard.

Another large push for this holiday is about planning ahead, about looking to the new projects that one may want to undertake in the next year or so and blessing them to fruition. The Llewellyn book had a cringy little spell or ritual you could do to bless the projects you had planned, and I considered turning it around into something that would work with what I knew (specifically looking at taking out the gross parts and including Wepwawet since this stuff seems like his bread and butter). However, I decided that I wasn’t quite ready for that.

While perusing the Brighid-centric stuff, I mused on how easy it would be to put any gods, really, into these holidays. As long as you get the general feel of them, you can find Greek or Roman gods, Slavic or ancient Egyptian gods in the feel of the holiday. And while I was distinctly uncomfortable with the idea of syncretizing a Wheel of the Year holiday with these types of holidays, I couldn’t help but find two of my gods staring at me as if waiting for me to make the connection.

 

Ancient Egyptian Gods to Associate with Imbolc

Let’s preface this with a few statements. I am not going into this with the need or desire to syncretize my Kemetic practice with the Wheel of the Year celebrations. In fact, as stated above, I am actually very uncomfortable with the idea of it. I am not Wiccan and I am not heading into a Kemetic Wicca world (I’ve researched it and I can safely say it’s not for me). I’m just trying to figure out what might work for me in future to help me feel like I’m not floundering anymore.

So, while I haven’t written the entry about it, Osiris has been around heavily for a few months. He started showing up more and more the closer fall came to winter. And while I will eventually get that entry out (one day – no actually I’m waiting on something else before I get around to writing it) suffice to say that he has been around and while he is not loud or in my face, he is an Ongoing Presence.

I wasn’t surprised to see him in the idea of Imbolc, not really. The holiday is about growth on the by and large; growth of the self, growth of one’s garden, growth of one’s life, etc. And Osiris is a god of growth, greenery, and fertility. We have all mentioned our shared personal gnosis where he likes to fuck around with our insides, forcing us to grow in ways we didn’t want or didn’t believe we were capable of.

He stood mummiform in my mind, surrounded by bay leaves and snowdrops and crocus and daffodils. There were birds chirping and his face was green. He held his distinctive scepter and I couldn’t pull him away from Imbolc even if I had wanted to. There he was.

As I pulled away from the idea that Osiris could easily be melded into this, I found someone else. I was startled by Heru-Wer standing there, but it took me all of 5 seconds to come to the realization that my surprise was silly.

We don’t typically see Heru-Wer in a fertile/growth paradigm. We see other gods in this place, but Horus the Elder has these associations just as much as all the rest. He is a god of growth and fertility, of greenery and the land around us. He doesn’t push us or mess around with our insides like Osiris does, but he has a subtle way about him that can push you in the same way as Osiris.

He stood falcon-headed in my mind, surrounded by pussy willows, feather reed grass, red-twig dogwood, moor grass, staghorn sumac, pink muhlygrass, and cattail fluff. These were all of the mid-winter images I’m used to seeing day-in and day-out. I’ll get into this more, but I was comfortable with the vision of him there not only because I have felt him everywhere lately but because he seemed to be in the here and now. It seemed right.

I wasn’t expecting to see either god in this place, in this time, but there they were. I don’t doubt that I could easily find more if I looked harder. But because these are my gods, the gods I have devoted myself to in some form or another, it was easier to see them there.

 

Changes for Next Year

While I was looking for ways to make me feel more connected to the point behind the holiday, I found it difficult to find artificial flowers that really made me feel like they worked for Imbolc. I found a number of artificial plants that reminded me of crocus, which I bought up in spades and used to coordinate my altar room and my altars with the purpose behind the holiday. But when I decided to make a general Imbolc altar, I found it hard to find plants that I wanted to include.

I’m not a large daffodil fan (they’re okay) and while I bought myself a small pot of them, it was mostly because they looked like they were crowded together and needed to breathe. And I couldn’t find anything that looked like snowdrops whatsoever. I was vaguely disgruntled. I ended up choosing a set of wheat-looking things that I absolutely hate because they have little stabby things at the ends that annoy me (because I keep stabbing myself accidentally).

It was after thinking about Heru-Wer and seeing him surrounded by the native winterized flora that it occurred to me that was what I probably should have done. I had found a couple of things at various crafts stores that would have worked well for the image I had in my head: an image of what I see everyday in winter.

While yes, it can get cold and there is sometimes snow on the ground (not as much as when I was a kid anyway), our winters are far more colorful than many people seem to realize.

Driving anywhere, there are red branches intertwined with gold (different types of dogwood); winter hay growing twice as tall as a human being; and staghorn sumac strategically placed along the side of the road. When the weak light of the sun filters down in the early morning, it’s breath-taking. (One day, I won’t be on my way to work and I’ll try to take pictures.)

There are also ornamental grasses all over the place here. I live in a very boggy area and that’s part of it. But a lot of locals like the look of feathery bushes, filled with golden or reddish native ornamental grasses. When the sun peaks over the mountains and shines down on them, they’re flooded with sparkles of color after a hard frost that can astonish the eye. (And again, one day, I won’t be in a rush to get somewhere and I’ll take pictures.)

This… this is what the middle of winter looks like to me. It’s not just piles of snow high above one’s head or the brown/yellow slush of melting snow. It is local flora dazzling with their brilliant color schemes and breath-taking themes.

So next year, I think, I will put away the stabby-wheat looking things (actually, I think I’m going to throw them away because I frankly don’t believe I can store them properly) and focus more on what I see in the world around me.

 

Pretty Pictures

And who can really end an entry like this without altar porn?

This was the altar I created for Imbolc. The golden things in the clear jars are the stabby wheat-looking things.

My ancestor and Osiris altar.

My Sekhmet and Ptah altar space.

My Hetheru and Heru-Wer altar area.

My Bes and Place of Truth area.

The Question.

 

One of the many little parts of my daily ritual includes the pulling of a daily card. I leave it out on the window sill beside my cupful of Ma’at to soak up the morning rays or the leaden skies that are forecast for the day. Sometimes, when I pull the card, I immediately understand it. It’s a reminder, a suggestion, and push in the right direction. Sometimes it begs me to slow down and to take care of myself. And sometimes it makes no sense whatsoever; it means nothing to me at the time. Whether it means something to me later is a matter of debate.

As part of this little ritual, I select a single deck to use for the month ahead. I prefer to use the same deck day-in and day-out for the full month because it helps me to understand decks that I may not use regularly and it also helps me to rotate my various decks. I have many, many types of oracle and Tarot cards and I can never use them all as much as I would like to.

This month of January I allowed my hands to float over my various decks until I pulled out a deck that I had been gifted with last year that I had side-eyed when I opened it but have found myself enjoying using: The Heart of the Faerie Oracle.

I know very little about the fae; it’s just not an area of interest to me. I love the posts about fae politics and culture and culture that go around Tumblr, but that’s about it. That’s why I didn’t understand why the deck was sent to me, but as I’ve used it over the last year, I’ve begun to understand the draw. Sometimes the cards are oblique, immaterial, confusing; sometimes it is like a punch in the gut.

Today’s pull was puzzling.

The candle is from CottageWicks and frigging amazing.

The guidebook had this to say about the card, The Question:

Intention / Dialogue / Answers

In Faerie, questions are very important. Questions, answers, and wishes, all of those things that help or hinder us on our journey are very much a part of our relationship with Faerie. “Who am I? What is your quest? Why have you come here, and what do you seek?” are questions often asked by the individuals you meet in Faerie. They don’t as often ask you who you are. It is more important for you to discover who they are.

It is important to know why you are traveling in Faerie and to be able to express that reason. You will be asked. When you cross the border into the otherworld, you should have a reason to be there. Are you a tourist, just looking around, hoping to send a postcard home? Are you on a quest, a journey of the spirit? Do you want knowledge? Experience of the otherworld? Are you looking for love? Are you searching for something that you have lost?

If you draw the Question in a reading, try to answer those questions for yourself. When you have answered, you can ask one of your own. What is that question, and of whom are you asking it? If you are clear about your quest (in Faerie and in life) and what you seek, you will then be able to ask the right questions and be ready to hear the answers.

This was all very nice and lovely, but it didn’t really explain why this card had come up this morning. I wrote in my Tarot Journal that I truly didn’t understand the purpose of all of this and figured that either I would eventually come to an understanding, or I wouldn’t. Sometimes I’m lucky and something pops up that allows me to connect the dots and other times, I’m left with a puzzled frown on my face, trying to understand what the cards are trying to say.

I was lucky that I was able to figure it out a bit after settling down to read through my WordPress Reader. I had a number of outstanding posts that I had been saving up for when I had a free moment and I had nothing to do for a bit while I waited for the world to wake up. The last post I had to read through was a post by someone I’ve known for years. I found myself at first uncomfortably interested and then visibly intrigued by what they had to say.

As I sat back, phone on my lap staring at the ceiling, I could understand what they had been going through. I, too, have watched as others have managed to bring to flesh their religious practice in a way that I cannot fathom. It is as if the language those people with fleshed out practices speak is so close to my own and yet, it is nothing like my language. I, too, have found myself envious and admiring of what those people have posted and wondered what that would look like for me.

I’ve known for a long time that the practice I’ve been kind-of dealing with hasn’t been enough. I knew it wasn’t enough four years ago, but I kept sticking to it because Kemeticism is what I knew and what I wanted. I can admit that it is still what I want; I want the relationships with the gods that I have and I suppose I’m amenable to exploring the relationships pushed upon me by such gods as Osiris and Ra. But I want flesh to cover the bones.

I want to be able to sink my hands into the dirt of my practice and feel it soak through my soul. I want to see it and smell it like a verdant garden, ripening eternally in spring-like splendor. I want to hear it and touch it. I want to know that it is there and it is made not only myself whole, but my life whole. I want to feel the ecstasy of release and the comfort of it all. I want.

I pulled my phone back up to my face and carefully typed a response to the post, “I’ve had similar issues myself. I can feel and see the bones but the flesh isn’t there. It’s been an ongoing issue for me for, well, a long time. Part of that is because I’ve felt very adrift lately.”

After leaving the comment, I put my phone down and stared at the ceiling some more. (This is actually something I do often when I’m lost in thought. I’m not sure that a ceiling has ever been able to answer questions, but it has been able to form the questions I was looking for.) The Question was there buried in the meat of my mind and it finally took form: “What would it feel like to have a fleshed out practice? What it would it look like to have something with tone and form and more than just tossing a dart at a dart board? How would I even do that?”

We don’t see this sort of stuff in Kemeticism; not really. The only person who really talked about it was TTR and they’re gone for the most part. I don’t doubt that there are Kemetics with something that is concrete and comfortable and livable, but if they’re out there, I haven’t seen them. Oh, I see people effect that persona and make it seem like that’s where they are, but I can see through the veneer. They’re no better off than I am.

When I compare what I do with what others have done, I see the difference. My practice and the practices of many other public Kemetics appear to be charcoal drawings. Others’ practices from other faiths look as if they have been shaded and painted and have a form that I can only marvel at. I want to know what that would be like for me, but alas.

Personally, I’m just cruising around, letting the flow of the world around me push and pull me wherever it decides I should go. That’s normal for me; I’m a go-with-the-flow kind of person and (contrary to popular misconceptions) I don’t like to cause a fuss. I just want things to be smooth, simple, easy, and ready for the taking. I’m just a little lazy that way.

But it doesn’t feel good. And as I’ve mentioned a time or six, it doesn’t seem to be working. As usual, I have to decide what’s best and where to go from here and I have to admit that fuck if I know. Fuck if I know.

So… well… This day started with a card pull; I should finish it with one.

The deck is the dual deck The Hidden Path & Well-Worn Path Deck which is a Raven Grimassi deck. I’ve had it since long before I learned how to better vet things and people in the pagan sphere.

I decided on this deck because it was always the one, back in those early 20-teens days that I could turn to and find a form to what I was looking for. It was the stop-gap when I felt like I was going off the rails. I needed to feel that foundation again; that feeling of knowing where I was going and what I was doing and using the very deck that steered me so well back then seemed to make the most sense.

I chose the ten-card spread called The Cauldron Spread from the book. The ten positions are listed below along with the cards I pulled for each:

  1. The Present Situation – Yule
  2. The Challenges Ahead – Ostara
  3. The Underlying Root – Tree in Summer
  4. The Querent’s Appearance in Relation to the Question – The Altar
  5. The Influencing Aspects – Faery Door
  6. Aspirations and Concerns – Wheel of the Year
  7. The Probable Course – Between the Worlds
  8. The Possible Alternative – Earth
  9. The Final Outcome – The Old Ones
  10. Transform the Outcome – Oath

I found it interesting that the card that represented my personification of this spread was The Altar. This card tends to mean a balance between the divine and yourself, which is the basis of one’s altar. The Altar is the direct interface, according to this deck anyway, between the divine and yourself. It is that physical connection that allows you to develop those relationships in many, many ways.

The reason I found this an interesting card for myself is that, no matter how many times I try to push it away, I keep coming back to that post from TTR, Ma’at Shines Through my Body and how it should relate to the utilization of one’s body as an altar-of-sorts for our gods, for our religion, and everything in between. Based on the card, I am a confluence of the physical and the divine.

The second most interesting card was the card, Between the Worlds. In effect, the card tells you that your vision isn’t clear and that in order to manifest what you want, you must have clarity of thought, clarity of vision, and cut out the distractions so that you can focus on that which you manifest.

The reason this was interesting is that it was low-key calling me out on my bullshit. I have a tendency of saying, “I will do this,” and then just not doing it. I did my Ritual365 last year, but I cut it back, cut it down, and didn’t bother to finish any of the entries I had originally intended on writing last year. Part of that is work and that nonsense, but I could have made more of an effort… which ties into that whole lazy thing I mentioned above.

And that is the crux of my issue, card reading or otherwise: I am a lazy creature. I do not want to do. I want it handed to me if it can be. That doesn’t mean that I won’t, it just means that I will put off until I cannot put it off any longer. Perhaps lazy isn’t the best word for it but that’s what I’ve always assumed it was. (That’s what all the adults told me when I was a kid. But it really goes hand-in-hand with the genetic heritage of sticking one’s head in the sand when big things happen, hoping that they will go away.)

To start, I suppose, I should solidify my vision. I should make a sort of vision board to give me clarity, to focus my desire in a specific arena that I want to flesh out first. But where? I’ve had so many ideas in the last year alone – reading subject matter that has little to do with Kemeticism but explores other avenues of religion so that I can try and figure out where I go from here – that I’m not quite sure which ideas make sense to include and which ones don’t.

I think I’ll just start with writing out the things that I want to include in my practice and see where that leads.

The Twelfth Hour.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

The final hour completes the rebirth and regeneration of the sun and life. “In the freshness of the morning, “the sky is gold, the water lapis lazuli, the earth is strewn with turquoise”. [p 140, Abt & Hornung, Knowledge of the Afterlife.]

The World-Encircler from the previous hour is shown on the ground. It is ready to receive the solar barque with all of the gods and the dead. They travel through the serpent’s spine to be rejuvenated. The Sungod is transformed into the scarab-headed god, Khepri, and is lifted in the horizon by the arms of Shu.

The lower register show the primeval gods of the Ogdoad as they work to assist in the act of creation. They are drawn beside the eight gods of the oars. The final depiction of the final hour ends with a jubilation at the regeneration of both Re and Osiris. Osiris is depicted in mummiform and is attested that while he may have to remain within the netherworld, he is awaiting the next return of the sun.

The Book of Gates

And so finally, we have come to the final hour and the conclusion.

The sun god has finally arrived for his impending rebirth, ready to enter the gateway to the day beyond:

The mystery of sunrise, into which the dead are here inducted, unfolds in several individual scenes, beginning in the upper register with gods who “carry the blazing light,” which is represented concretely by the sun disks in their hands. Stars again prefigure the appearance the sun, while goddesses seated atop serpents surround the solar child.

Before the sun god’s solar barque, A/pep is rendered immobile and tied up. It is depicted to show that it is unable to prevent the upcoming rebirth of the sun from continuing. Behind this, four baboons announce the sun god at the horizon. The lowest register shows symbols of power, crowns specifically, which are to be worn while leaving the netherworld. Isis and Nephthys, symbolized by uraei, guard the final gate.

The conclusion of this book is not divided into registers. The whole course of the sun is condensed into a single image. “Half hidden in the depths, the god Nun raises the solar barque out of the primeval waters, which are indicated by wavy lines. In the barque, the sun, in the form of a soaring scarab beetle, is embraced by Isis and Nephthys, while he betel pushes the sun disk toward the sky goddess Nut, who receives the god Re.” [p64, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife.]

All three of the interior spaces of the cosmos are thus contained in this complex representation: the primeval waters, the height of the heavens, and the depths of the earth (the netherworld). From above and below, arms are stretched toward the sun, arms that hold it and move it through these cosmic spaces, day after day.

The Book of Night

The name of the gateway for this final hour is “She Who Repels the Destructive Ones”. This hour is associated with Nut’s thighs as the sun rolls down towards her feet. The hour itself is named “She Who Sees the Beauty of Re” and the solar barque continues to be towed forward. The guide is another crocodile-headed deity known as, “The Primordial One of the Lower Sky”.

Ma’at stands before Re and offers him up the sign of life, the ankh, to symbolize his rebirth. The solar barque sales upon the primeval waters of the Nun, and it is through these waters that the inundation occurs again, only this time bringing forth the sun into the new day.

Though it may seem as if everyone may attain the moment of rebirth, it is possible that not all will make it even in this hour. Standing in the upper register of this hour is “He Who Causes Enemies to be Forgotten”, ready to ensnare the travelers so that their living memory is forgotten and annihilating all traces of their life.

In the lower register stand “He Who Judged According to His Knowledge”, “He Who Severs Heads”, “Frightening of Face”, and the “Trapper in the Sky”. The nets of the trapper are waiting to trap those who are opposed to the way of the sun-boat, those who may try to stop the solar barque from moving forward into the turbulent final hour of rebirth.

An image of a potter’s wheel is shown near Nut’s vulva. The potter’s wheel stands on a sledge and upon the wheel is a scarab beetle with a stream of liquid coming forth from its head. The liquid flows down toward the hieroglyph for the sky, which is supported by another scarab beetle. Beneath the beetle is a seated child. Kneeling before the potter’s wheel are two gods of the Ogdoad, Huh and Hauhet, the two known as Endlessness.

Beneath Nut’s feet stand Nephthys and Isis, hands held aloft beneath the sun. They are the midwives of this hour, helping to bring forth the sun, supporting the newborn sun when he comes forth from Nut’s body.

Further Reading

  • The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife by Erik Hornung
  • Knowledge for the Afterlife by Theodor Abt and Erik Hornung
  • My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts

The Osiris Mysteries: Presenting the Corn Mummy to Daylight.

November 21 – 25, 2019/IV Akhet 19-23

A five-day festival during the Osiris Mysteries is to take the corn mummy you made and present it to daylight. There are other festivals peppered within this 5-day ritual, and I’ll catalog what I did for some of those while also discussing why I didn’t specifically do anything for the others listed.

It’s November in New England, which means that you get paltry sunlight for about half the day. The rest of the time, it’s cloudy and/or raining. And it is, of course, always cold. So as I pulled my preferred corn mummy from its place on my household altar, I wondered what the next five days would bring.

The first day was okay. The sun shown pretty brightly and the breeze wasn’t too terrible. I almost was able to get away wearing a hoody for the entire day. (Towards the end of the day, the wind picked up and it got cold again.) The following day, it rained. The third day, it was sunny and actually stayed light for most of the day. None of that in-between peekaboo shit for the sun that day! We were even able to get some basic lawn work done before the sunset. It rained on the fourth day and was pretty dreary. The sun was out for the last day and it was almost in the 50s.

I wasn’t really surprised the weather did what the weather always does in the winter, but I did have to wonder what Osiris, and by extension his corn mummy, had to say about it. At least it didn’t snow.


The Osiris Mysteries: Making Ointment
(November 21, 2019/IV Akhet 19)

I did not celebrate this for much the same reason I didn’t make unguents. I’m not an ointment person and to be perfectly honest, whenever I think of the word ointment, I think about BENGAY, the topical pain relieving ointment. I just don’t really think that’s what precisely is meant here. And besides, I really have no idea what in the world the ointment would be used for? I don’t think the corn mummy needs a pain reliever.

 

The Osiris Mysteries: Finding the Udjat Eye & Weaving the Burial Cloth (November 22, 2019/IV Akhet 20)

When I first saw the name of this, I had to wonder if the Udjat Eye finding was because she went missing again, or if it was because of Horus’s eye. According to The Ancient Egyptian Daybook, “the two Udjat eyes of Osiris are found. An abnen-bird emerges from them. It is in the form of a standard of Pakhet, to which one says: ‘Shining Lady’.” I liked my idea about the eyes being Horus’s missing eyes better, honestly.

I am not into fiber arts, so I don’t weave. I can knit as long as you don’t expect me to start it or to finish it, but I can’t do much else. So about a month ago, I went out with my husband to find something that I thought would be an appropriate burial cloth. My original idea was one of those decorative sheer scarves (I have several in various colors) that I would wrap my corn mummy in and then bury the whole shebang in the dirt after I buried the corn mummy. I wanted a white one.

But of course, I couldn’t find what I was looking for.

All I could find was a really beautiful pashmina in white that is so soft and so pretty and I really want to find an excuse to wear it one day. And did I mention it is really beautiful? The funniest thing is that I was extremely ambivalent about it when my husband pointed it out. (As I bought it, he made sure to remind me that he was the one who found it for me and that he is very good about finding religious things for me.) So, it’s more of a stand-in as the burial cloth until I end up finding a sheer, white scarf like I had originally intended. Eventually.


The Osiris Mysteries: Removing the Mummy & The Divine Bandages
(November 23, 2019/IV Akhet 21)

I have no idea when I was supposed to put the mummy in bandages, divine or otherwise. There wasn’t anything that I saw in the calendar that would have indicated that I would need to bandage up the mummy in preparation for the day that I would remove the bandages. There are no notes in the Daybook about what this could mean, so I shrugged it off and moved on with my life.


The Osiris Mysteries: The Procession of the 34 Boats
(November 24, 2019/IV Akhet 22)

I kind of poked around in my lexicon of possibilities and decided that I would do a Roaming Gnome impression. I did something like this before for a Procession of Sekhmet and I had a lot of fun. I can admit that I had fun roaming around my house with a sheet of paper flapping in my wind.

We started off in the back of the house, peering into the darkness.

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stop off at the household altar, which you may notice is now sporting a djed. That will come into play later.

The 34 Boats had to stop off and say hi to our pirate boat.

I’ve been purifying my tub of dirt every night until we’re ready for me to start planting things.

I love that little green half-loaf pan. And I have a perverse sense of humor. (You know… O was broken into parts…)

And of course, we ended up back at home base because, of course, we were always heading there.


The Osiris Mysteries: Preparation for Burial
(November 25, 2019/IV Akhet 23)

And thus we get to the part that I really was looking forward to: I’ve got dirt! Okay, so I already had dirt. But my circle of dirt that looked like a little dish is now officially dirt and not a hunk of round freeze dried dirt!

Is it a machine that packs it down so it fits perfectly? What does quality control for that look like? Do people use measuring tape to make sure it works out well when you buy these kits?

It required 3.5 cups of water. I dumped the required amount of water and immediately began to panic. I checked the directions three times in rapid succession, but it had indeed requested that I use 3.5 cups of warm water to make the dirt circle turn into a clump of dirt. I had misgivings as I walked away, not aware that freeze dried dirt demands water like a starving animal demands food. (My ignorance is because gardening has never been my forte.)

I really enjoyed breaking up the dirt. My hands were really dirty and I had a hard time taking a clear picture, but I fucking loved it. Maybe gardening is something that I could actually get into.

I tossed the dirt clump into my tub of dirt and played around in the dirt a few more times.

I made dirt! And it didn’t go wrong!

The Osiris Mysteries: Opening Ceremonies & The Gods Appear in 34 Boats

November 20, 2019/IV Akhet 18

I started thinking about what to do for the Opening Ceremonies in October. Opening ceremonies can be very important and tend to highlight the look and feel of the event even after it has begun. I racked my brain, trying to figure out what would be appropriate and what was something that I could do.

As is my wont, I started with really over-the-top ideas. I have such a bad habit of going overboard with things because I want to show that I am a Real Polytheist™ like everyone else proclaims to be. But the problem with that is that I am a spoony, so I don’t always have the energy to do what I had originally thought up. And I don’t always have the available cash flow to do what I had originally planned. Just because the budget looks bright and shiny a month in advance that doesn’t mean it actually will when you finally get to that point.

The other part of this is that this year’s Mysteries are a sort of test run. Usually, I would have accompanying words and gestures to go along with all of this. But since I have never once participated before this year, Osiris and I agreed that this would be a word-less venture this year: no rites, simple gestures with intent, no words of power to accompany everything else.

So all of my over-the-top ideas were quickly jettisoned as time went by.

I would periodically worry the thread of what I should be doing over the month in advance that I thought about all of this. Sometimes I came up with little ideas that I didn’t feel were too terrible, or at least Osiris didn’t seem to offended or annoyed with what I was suggesting. (And to be quite honest, there were a few times where my ideas actually were very annoying or repulsive to him.)

Not only did I have to do something to commemorate the opening salvo for the Mysteries (since everything to this point has been preparation, more or less), but I also had to come up with some way to show 34 boats as Osiris is accompanied by 34 gods, each in their own individual boats.

From The Ancient Egyptian Daybook:

Boats for Osiris and his companion deities were floated on the Dendera sacred lake on IV Akhet 18. There were 34 boats total:

  1. Osiris
  2. Isis
  3. Nephthys
  4. Horus
  5. Thoth
  6. Imsety
  7. Hapy (one of the sons of Horus)
  8. Duamutef
  9. Qebshenuef
  10. The Capturer
  11. Who Acts Violently
  12. Horus Who Beholds his Father
  13. Who Creates His Own Name
  14. Who Is in His Lifetime
  15. Horus, Beautiful of Front (Face/Front Side)
  16. Their Thrones
  17. Maker of Boundaries
  18. Khonsu the Construstor
  19. The Divine Falcon over His Arm
  20. The Terrifying One
  21. Sia
  22. Who Creates Himself
  23. In Front of Two
  24. She Who is Great in Age
  25. The Two Runners
  26. Name Lost
  27. Name Lost
  28. Name Lost
  29. Name Lost
  30. Who Doesn’t Give His Flame
  31. The Two Red-Eyed Ones
  32. Foremost of the House of the Red Garment
  33. The Lion of the Night Who Brought Him Low
  34. The Destroyer

That was a lot of gods and while the idea of origami was palatable, I could also admit that it was completely out. I’m not good with paper folding as I’ve tried repeatedly and it doesn’t work out ever. I don’t know how people with magic fingers can make things out of paper, but I do not have magic fingers and my paper folding tends to end up in a crumpled up ball of frustration at my feet.

Two days out, I threw up my hands and figured I would decide what to do on the day in question. Something would pop in my head and either it would work out, or it wouldn’t.

I lit all of my candles and then sat down in the living room to make the boats.

It may seem ridiculous to take out a piece of white paper and just draw 34 boats on it, but sometimes that’s about as much energy and pizzazz as you can do. I actually ended up with two copies.

The first one, I tried to be very precise with my boats, keeping them evenly spaced and about 1″ long. I found it irritating and stupid, so I free handed the second sheet. I outlined each little boat in black sharpie so it could be seen clearly from far away.

I am, what you may call, a perfectionist. I stared at the boats a couple of times on my second sheet and seriously considered throwing it away as well. It wasn’t… it didn’t come out right. I looked back at the first sheet of my carefully spaced, 1″ long boats and realized that having them so “perfect” looking didn’t work. The boats would have all looked the same in antiquity, but they wouldn’t have all looked exactly alike.

I also kind of felt, as I looked harder, that having them kind of not-so-evenly spaced on the paper gave it the appearance of boats floating randomly on the water. It took me a bit to warm up to it, but I eventually got there.

Once I was done with the boats, I turned back to the Opening Ceremonies themselves. I had a couple of ideas which was basically music and rattling my little paper of boats around over the altar space I use for Osiris.

Music is also a very important part to any religious festival, so I worried about what I would choose. Inevitably, as I thought about it, I realized that having horns and drums announcing something was probably the greatest way to go about it, so we listened to Fanfare for the Common Man on repeat a few times.

As I walked into my candle lit space, I decided that I was being ridiculous for just holding a sheet of paper over the space, letting it waft in the breeze I created. But I can remember a million times before now where being ridiculous or silly or a little joke-y about things wasn’t so bad. So I went with it. And it seems to have worked out.

The Osiris Mysteries: Opening the House.

November 18, 2019/IV Akhet 16

Before the Opening the House rite, the day prior is known as Preparing the Coffin and Unguents. I initially had every intention of doing something, but the truth is that I didn’t feel a hard pull to do so. And I forgot. At quarter of nine, I realized I had dismissed my alarm and wasn’t sure what to do so late in the game. (My nighttime working is usually done between 8pm-9pm.)

I didn’t feel a particular need to do this because I’m not a fan of unguents or oils. I always end up making a mess, or accidentally destroy something when I use them. And since I plan on burying my corn doll in dirt that I will be growing something in, it didn’t seem like a wise idea to prep or utilize unguents of any sort. It may have been the norm for burials in antiquity and was no doubt done for the corn dolls, but considering my black thumb, I can’t take too many chances.

I also didn’t plan on making a coffin for use. I need the paperwhites to get as much soil nutrition as possible and even with a coffin made of something that could assist the plants with growing, I’m not going to try. I did draw a little modern day coffin in the dirt though.

The Opening the House rite doesn’t have any accompanying text or notes in the Daybook. I knew, after looking into Nephthys, that the reference to the house more than likely had something to do with the inner sanctum of the temple. As I mentioned in my entry on her, her name is often translated as Mistress of the House, but could also mean Mistress of the Temple Enclosure.

It made a certain kind of sense to me that this particular rite probably had something to do with the temple, or the inner sanctum of Osiris: the house, so to speak.

I am not a priest of Osiris, or frankly any of my gods. What I do regularly for them may make people think that I am a priest or priestess for my gods, but I can say concretely that at this juncture in my life I am not.

I know a bit about what more than likely took place within the temples in antiquity but it’s a guess on my part in some instances. Those guesses are mostly logical guesses based on what I’ve learned over the years. But I’m still a little uncertain.

I decided the best course of action was to go with something simple and easy. Nothing flowery; nothing overt.

I purified my kitchen work space with sandalwood incense, leaving it to burn over the window box I had filled with dirt two days before. I also lit the candle on my household altar in front of my two corn doll attempts.

I opened up the door to my ritual room, or spooky room, and thought about the meaning behind the phrase “opening the house.” The inner sanctum of all temples was kept private. The only ones allowed within were the priests and priestesses of the god. The holy of holies was never seen by the lay person, but that wasn’t the only place where the lay people would have been given access to if the priests and priestesses were “opening the house”.

It was probably a very magical moment to be able to go into the temple. There were public areas that people could access regularly but maybe this whole opening of the house meant that they could go into less common areas.

I lit the candles on my ancestor and Osiris altar, lighting incense to purify the space.

I am not a lay person, per se, but as I sat and watched the candles flicker in the darkness of my room, I could see why it would be important for the priests to “open the house”. It would give people the ability to feel close to a god who they might fear (considering his association with the netherworld) and to better understand, maybe, what it must have been like for his priesthood.

Maybe they opened the doors for the people who relied on Osiris’s associations with growth, and greenery, and vegetation, and fertility for their very lives so they could connect with him on a level beyond his death and rebirth.

Or maybe I’m making it all up. Maybe it was the flickering of the candlelight and the myrrh incense (I don’t know why he didn’t want sandalwood in my ritual room, but there you have it) combined to make me overthink and project what I thought the purpose of this particular day is.

The house is open.

The Osiris Mysteries: Forming the Earth.

November 16, 2019/IV Akhet 14

For the few days before the Forming the Earth ritual, I tried to figure out what that meant for me and what I was hoping to accomplish during the Osiris Mysteries. According to The Ancient Egyptian Daybook by Tamara Suida: “A statue of Sokar-Osiris was formed out of soft earth in a silver mold on this day, and prepared until IV Akhet 16.” I had a couple of options available to me but I wasn’t sure what made the most sense.

I knew that I wanted to have a container filled with earth of some sort, but I had to ask myself what earth made the most sense. I had a number of decorative sands that I could use and I was leaning towards the black and red decorative sand in a sort of swirled mix. I had a very for the aesthetic ideal when I thought up this idea, but I wasn’t 100% sure if it worked for me.

After talking it over with Devo, the main question they asked me to help me figure it out was, “Well, are you planning on growing anything?” I kind of wanted to. I’m not what you would call a green thumb (I can kill a cactus pretty easily) but eventually, I would like to try this whole gardening spiel. So I spent some time researching winter plants and what I would need in order to foster them to growth during the Osiris Mysteries.

Eventually, I decided that I could try my hand at this growing business. Osiris has deep ties to growth and greenery. It made sense for me to at least give it a shot. I may not be successful and I will have to come to terms with that if and when it happens. But I am hoping that I can at least get a few sprouts before everything goes to shit.

This meant that I knew what I needed: real dirt, some seeds from a winter-friendly plant, and a container to grow it all in.

I spent much of the morning at various stores where I could purchase the needed supplies. I found a rectangular bronze-and-black window box that I liked. I needed only about a 12″ long box, but wound up walking away with a 15″ long box. I poked through the plant kits readily available for purchase and decided to buy some paper whites for this experience. (I chose them over the amaryllis because they were white for purity and they kind of reminded me of snow drops.) My husband found me some good dirt to use for the type of flowers I was trying to go and I was ready to start.

After cleaning up my work space and the container I purchased, I ritually purified it with a stick of sandalwood incense. (This has been the incense choice for the Osiris Mysteries since I haven’t been asked to use any of my other incense blends yet.)

I actually had a lot of fun piling in the dirt I had chosen. The smell of opening the bag and just inhaling it was pleasurable. I can understand why people enjoy gardening. I also found it very nice to stick my hands deep into the dirt and swish it around in a swirl around the container. Maybe it’s the kid in me or maybe it’s the memory of helping my mom to plant morning glories in the front garden when I was a kid, but I liked it.

The dirt we had chosen wasn’t as dark as I would have liked it (I couldn’t get out the idea that I needed a very dark brown dirt), but I was the only one complaining about that. I poked around in it for a bit and then sloped the pile into a sort of mound shape to the best of my ability.

After inhaling the box of dirt a few more times, I opened the plant growing kit and was surprised to see a giant disc of dirt at the bottom. I don’t know what I was expecting? In my defense, the last time I tried to grow something from scratch, my seedlings ended up popping up in the middle of the container and not at the top like I had expected, so…

I pulled out the disc and after talking with my husband (whose mother is a horticulturist so he knows more about this stuff than I do), I decided I would use the disc. It technically is supposed to sit in the bottom of a round container that came with the growing kit (and if I didn’t intent on burying an 8″ tall corn doll I would have used it), but I thought I could use it in my long container since it comes with, probably, specifically good plant food for paper whites.