Kemetism is Orthopraxic: Live in Ma’at III.

Three years ago, I sat down and wrote a post that would later define a lot of who I am and how I practice today. I didn’t think the post would become as important as it has become, nor did I think it would garner as many hits. But that’s the thing about blogging: you never really know which post is The Post, the one that everyone will go back to time and time again. I’ve found even myself going back to that first post, looking it over and kind of realizing how much of that original post has defined me today.

Looking back over the last three years, I’ve come to see that post (along with the situations that were occurring at the time) as a very large crossroads in my practice. It didn’t feel like one, of course, but as I look back, I can see that all of the things that came before that post were more newbie flail and everything that came after has been one more step forward on the path I’ve been treading these last few years.

That post, more than the situations that were happening back then, helped to crystallize a lot for me.

With the help of others, I was able to get a working definition together that felt appropriate to me. And together, we were able to come up with a list of things that kind of helped us in the day-to-day:

  • Ma’at was don’t be a dick.
  • Ma’at was give stuff to the gods.
  • Ma’at was take no shit.

This was good stuff and we put the word out there. I don’t think there’s a Kemetic on Tumblr who hasn’t heard the “don’t be a dick” thing. Maybe everyone’s seen the posts from TTR that have been reblogged to death about what ma’at entails and how we’ve simplified it, made it easier to contend with such a large, amorphous concept, and live with it to the best of our abilities.

I’m sure there are times where we all feel like we fail and I’m sure there are times where we can step back, shouting to the rooftops, “fuck yeah, I am totally living in ma’at!” But at the end of the day, we have a workaround that helps us to feel like we know what we’re talking about.

Peacock Feather

This is not to say the person had no need of personal conscience. On the contrary, it simply suggests that conscience (ib or h3ty) is a relational concept and thus depends on both what is thought of one by one’s moral community and what one thinks of oneself based in substantial part on this evaluation by significant others. – p8, Ma’at the Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt by Dr. Maulana Karenga

In recent weeks, TTR began reading through Ma’at, the Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt by Dr. Maulana Karenga. The text is dense, from what other sources have told me, and as they work their way through the book, they’ve helpfully been posting quotes for public consumption. One of the things that has gotten to me with each reading is just how integral community is within the concept of ma’at.

It almost seems, to me, that without a community at one’s back, then it is very difficult to maintain and live within ma’at. As stressed in the quote above, the concept of one’s conscience depends both on the self and based on the moral community that they are surrounded with. In ancient Egypt, it was simple enough to achieve this goal as the concept was lived and breathed, not only by the gods but by the very people who made up the country.

Nowadays, we are in diaspora and trying like hell to pick up the pieces.

One could assume that the decision of the wider community regarding what is and is not ma’at is fundamental. Well, we have that. We have our little list of things that we tell people when they first get started on this roller coaster. We send them to the various posts we’ve all written about the concept and sometimes, in the responses we provided to those newbies, we re-evaluate the nebulousness of the concept itself, redefining and redetermining whether or not the little list works for us still.

For the most part, it seems to work for people.

But the question becomes what happens if someone or multiple someones within your community infers or outright states that what you are doing is not living in ma’at? What if they state your actions are isfet through and through?

Do you go for arbitration? Do you execrate the shit out of them? Do you sit down and talk about it, one-on-one? And let’s say that you do sit down and talk about it, one-on-one: points of view are highly personalized things and each individual could end up talking past the other person, unable or unwilling to see the other point of view. What do you do then?

Offering Ma'at

In general, the good man is still the silent, self-controlled man, with the emphatic devotion that is now explicit… – p171 Exploring Religion in Ancient Egypt by Stephen Quirke

I try like hell not to tell anyone whether or not they are living in ma’at. I try very hard not to tell anyone that what they’re doing is isfet. I am not judge, jury, or executioner. I am not the nisut and I have no intention of ever becoming one. I find it morally reprehensible to make that decision on a singular basis. Maybe I’ve always recognized that it was a communal effort that went into the determination.

I can think of a single instance where I’ve made the remark to someone and I felt guilty as all hell afterwards. I broke my very principles in making the statement. Sure, they were a manipulative prick and used their UPG to prey upon the young and impressionable youth in our community, but I still felt like I had no business making that supposition out loud, much less on a public blogging site. But I threw it out there, using our little tenets and I never heard back from anyone, stating that I was doing something wrong when I made the claim.

To this day, it still bothers the fuck out of me.

I don’t feel that any single person has the ability to determine any of that. Based on the quotes, the conversations, the arguments and my own feverish nighttime thinking on the subject, I don’t think anyone knows enough about the concept (and likely, never will) because no definitions were ever left behind. We stumble around and hope that what we are building is enough. Maybe it is for some; maybe it isn’t for others.

Whatever the case, I don’t think anyone can just arbitrarily make the decision about what falls within ma’at and what falls within isfet.

Now, more than ever, it’s become clear that the definition of ma’at is a communal effort. The problem, I think, would be that our list of definitions are too infinitely finite. They narrow the bandwidth on a broad road and forget to take into consideration the social context of our modern-day lives, the shades of gray that we live in day-to-day along with the shades of gray that is very clearly within the realm of ma’at.

What could be someone being a dick to one may not necessarily jive with someone else’s definition. What could be a perceived failing in giving stuff to the gods could simply be a misunderstanding based on posts reblogged a hundred times while the private stuff is kept quietly back or never makes it to the public. What could be seen as a heavy-handed reaction could in fact be a deeper problem within the community.

It is our job to band together and determine those things together, not to listen to a few souls who are louder or are reblogged more than most. It is our job to make determinations as a group, not listening to the people shouting down.

This is a group effort. And that means communicating on both individual and group levels, communicating with people who may take issue with you or may make you feel dumb for existing, and communicating what it is to be a part of the community at large and what you would like to see as it grows.

Thus, the model person is not the warrior or even priest, but the gentle person who serves and is responsible. – p 38, Ma’at the Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt by Dr. Maulana Karenga

Relevant Posts

  1. Kemetism is Orthopraxic: Live in Ma’at I
  2. Kemetism is Orthopraxic: Live in Ma’at II
  3. Kemetism is Orthopraxic: Finding Balance
  4. Life is Orthopraxic

Feast of the Two Lands 2016.

January 27, 2016

Two years ago, Khenne had put out the request for other people to simultaneously celebrate the Feast (or Festival) of the Two Lands. I answered that call then. Last year, I low-key paid homage but didn’t do much other than to calculate the holiday to my calendar and add it.

Though this celebration is about the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, I will probably always associate it with Ptah. The triad of Memphis doesn’t soak into the my thoughts on the holiday nor do any of the other available triads out there. Whenever I think of this particular festival, I can only see the image of Ptah that is often in my mind’s eye: quiet, calm, ankh-djed-was scepter in hand.

As I looked at his icon this weekend, trying to figure out what to do, it was like being overwhelmed in the presence of someone you really respect. It wasn’t quite being an emotional wreck, but it also was. It was very strange, but I looked upon his icon and felt the heat of tears at the back of my eyes.  I was so overcome that I wanted to cry, though I didn’t.

While sitting there, I got more of the same from him that I got from Sekhmet last week. This isn’t about the holiday; this isn’t even about him. It’s about me, myself, and I. He said I could deliver. I told him I would try.

Unified ↂ Conscience

More and more frequently the edges of me dissolve and I become a wish to assimilate the world – More and More by Margaret Atwood

Since Ptah has joined my household, I find the need to pay homage to him most often by creating things in his presence. When I work on long-standing artistic projects, I tend to have him around to watch me. It’s both an opportunity to have him around so he can oversee the results and also so that when – not if, when – I get frustrated, I can soak up his calming presence.

I get very frustrated when it comes to my artistic endeavors because I am not an artist. I had never been interested in drawing, only coloring carefully between the lines in coloring books as a kid. Most of the things I craft by hand look, to me, like something my kid brings home from school. There is nothing wrong with that, of course; the things I make get the job done. But I’m a perfectionist so the fact that I can’t draw for the life of me grates on my nerves.

Since this celebration was supposed to be about me, as Ptah instructed, I tried to think about how I could be associated with unification in some way. The inertia thing is still a huge problem, confounded by the fact that I spend most of my days in an office setting that tears me apart most days. In the end, I decided to create a jar filled with heka specifically aimed at bringing more spoons into my life.

I listened to happy music since this is one of the very few things Ptah has asked me to do since officially joining Sekhmet in my home. Music is very important in my practice, but we had noticed that much of the music I listen to can or do have depressing associations. Still other pieces of music are so closely intertwined with specific relationships that, happy or not, it doesn’t fulfill the request very well. The mission to find happier music has been in play for months and while I don’t always follow through, I do try to when I’m working for or with him.

I started the jar off by creating a sort of paper poppet of myself. I filled the little envelope with charms that represent bits of me then doused everything in red, yellow, and orange glitter. I had forgotten why I don’t use glitter anymore, only recalling that I had sworn off using it ever again; I remember now. (I found a single piece of gold glitter in Heru-Wer’s cup this morning, days later, and I had been using the glitter on the floor 2 feet away. I just don’t even.)

When I was mildly satisfied with those results, I went paging through books to find a good representation for spoons. If I attempt to draw a spoon, it tends to look a little like Pops from Regular Show. As I went leafing through various books, I decided that I wanted something that had ancient Egyptian symbolism. In a seeming twist of fate, I wound up finding an image of a soul rising from the blue lotus. It was a hell of a lot more complicated to draw than a lopsided spoon.

It took about forty-five minutes for both images, probably longer, and it was frustrating. As the crick in my neck became more pronounced and my frustration grew, I would stop and look up at Ptah, trying to remember what the fuck I was going for here. Finally, I wound up with two of the images on sheets of half paper.

I filled the interior of the jar with my poppet and with herbs that scream spoon management to me. I pressed the sheets of half paper against the sides of the jar, with the soul picture facing my paper poppet, I closed the jar. I thought about sealing the jar with wax, which ended up only making things worse (and with my ruining two pairs of pants in the attempt). Deciding that the contents may need to be revamped at some future unknown date, I held off on the act of sealing everything in.

Blue lotus- Processed image

I plucked my soul out of its secret place and held it to the mirror of my eye to see it like a star against the sky… – I Know my Soul by Claude McKay

As I angrily scraped wax off the lid of the jar, I realized that this was not helping. Ptah had stated I needed to do something for me, and I did do the thing for myself, yet there I was angry as all get out because the image in my head wasn’t showing up in front of me.

It was like all my doubts and frustrations kind of metastasized into this really snotty diatribe directed at Ptah. And the whole time it rather felt like he was just nodding sympathetically, waiting for the rant to end. When it finally did, I looked down at the jar in my lap and realized that it didn’t look so bad as all that.

I set it upon my altar, lacing the top with a carnelian rose, now covered in glitter, an ib amulet, and a key. I looked down at my handiwork and felt rather proud of myself for what I had made. From frustration and worry to pride and pleasure; it was like all I needed was to vomit up all the concerns I had about the project so I could focus on what I had actually done.

The next morning, I woke up feeling rested and ready to greet the world. It was probably just a simple little mind trick – believing the thing was working because I had crafted it, because Ptah had watched me put the materials together, because he had overseen the creation of the thing from start to finish. But sometimes, we need to have faith in the things we create even if it’s not a conscious decision.

Sekhmet’s Procession With Her Executioners 2016.

January 9, 2016

I have been flailing a bit with regards to holidays lately. Though years into this, I am still rather stuck in the attitude of what and why and how instead of focusing on the doing. I don’t think that’s abnormal, but after a while, both the gods and the devotee get a little winded from the constant questioning.

In the years since I added this holiday to my calendar, I have focused on various aspects of it while trying to celebrate it. I have focused on Sekhmet, then on her executioners. I focused on what a procession could conceivably look like and how best to recreate it. Sometimes these attempts have felt more like a stab in the dark, hoping to hit something.

Looking back on each instance, it has felt as though something has been continuously missing. The holiday was about Sekhmet and her executioners; I paid attention to them as much as I was able and in accordance with what I hoped were her wishes. But it occurred to me this go around that the one thing I’ve glossed over every single time has been me.

Don’t get me wrong: holidays like this were less about the people. But this isn’t ancient Egypt or merely a bastion of recreating a dead religion. This is my home, my relationship with my gods, and if I’m to celebrate these things, I need to do more, in my opinion, than simply orchestrate a bastardized recreation. I need to be as integral as the main deities these holidays are supposed to be about.

S told me the week of the holiday that the stagnation bit was important to focus on. She reminded me that this next year is to be focused more on me and less on everything else. Spoon management; job prospects; relationship building with the family; etc. But in order to really crystallize all of that, I needed to do the work.

I figured she was probably on about something of importance and decided to listen.

Though the motions I've been going through have failed and I'm coasting on potential towards a wall at a hundred miles an hour

Though the motions I’ve been going through have failed and I’m coasting on potential towards a wall at a hundred miles an hour – Saturday by Fall Out Boy

I read a snippet about a holiday in a book that indicated Sekhmet and her executioners went on a sojourn to Letopolis. I didn’t think that the book was referring to this particular holiday (the season, I believe is different), but it did get me thinking. I thought about the traveling bit and realized there was something important here. I got the idea to “lead” a procession to “Letopolis,” also known as my self-care altar.

Popularly referred to as the Place of Truth, my self-care altar has changed dramatically since its first inception. No longer a small bowl of tidbits, it spans three book shelves, a half wall, a small cabinet, and is covered in items that hold varying shades of value to me. The primary focuses are the parts of myself that have remained throughout each transformative experience of my life… similar to the one I’ve been ignoring in my attempts to “passively surrender” to what fate has in store.

While I prepared for what was taking shape in my head, it occurred to me that symbolism has been everywhere lately. It seems to have soaked through from my dreams and has begun to run rampant in my life. Along with my life, it’s also more than simply coated my attempts to celebrate holidays, but has fully enriched it. As I grabbed items together to start the celebration, I kept thinking: Symbolism; symbolism everywhere.

I have three vases that I purchased last year that I snapped up first. They are red, green, and blue vases that I bought to represent places when I was celebrating the Feast of the Beautiful Reunion. Nowadays, these glass vases represent parts of myself with a dried rose help in the mouth of each. Just as with the Beautiful Reunion, I took the three vases to use as symbols of my own procession with Sekhmet and her executioners.

Blue symbolized the inertia of my person. I envision the stagnation or inertia as a river where I have allowed it to determine what course I head down. I placed this back near Sekhmet’s sacred space. The symbolic river bank was the start of the journey. I took the green one and placed it at the base of the bookshelf. This symbolized the “greening of the ib“, basically the sprouting forth of life-affirming, ma’at-affirming action. The red one went on the shelf beside the small cabinet. This one symbolized successful movement forward, embodying my power to break free of the stagnation.

I took seven tea lights and placed them upon the floor between the blue vase and the red vase. The symbolism was two-fold: each candle represented one of Sekhmet’s arrows but it also symbolized the seven steps I was to take to get to my self-care altar. I actually measured out seven footsteps and placed the candles at those points.

Sekhmet, the four arrow pendants that represent her arrows, and myself took the seven steps to my self-care altar to break free of my own inner demons. I moved ahead with eyes focused on my goal, thinking about how I was performing a symbolic act to force myself out of the second hour of the Duat so that I could journey on to the third and fourth. To add to the journey, we listened to Victorious by Panic! at the Disco.

I read about the afterlife but I never really lived more than an hour

I read about the afterlife but I never really lived more than an hour – Saturday by Fall Out Boy

After I had provided the offerings, I sat across from the book shelf and listened to the music. I closed my eyes and let myself leak out in front of my lady and her arrows, explaining why I had let things carry on for so long. It was cathartic; I had spent so much time hiding from my thoughts and feelings on the matter.

I went through a few of the key phrases in Hathor Rising as I sat. I tried to picture what it would look like to embody Ihy, to pull myself from the realm of the Inert Ones with the same force he used to be born into this world. I thought about the dream I had of him – when I had pulled my prayer beads from my dream pocket – and thought about praying.

It’s hard to beseech the gods, even if you know you should, when you’re not used to the process. It’s something I do at my wit’s end, when there is nothing but a wall at my back. I remembered the cool feeling of the beads between my fingers in that dream and the calm that followed. Maybe I was successful; maybe I wasn’t.

I felt calm at least.

S told me that this was the start of the journey. Just as the old saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither am I to pass through the second hour I’ve been in lately. She reminded me that this will take time and the lesson of patience from last year’s Answering Words will be important here. I don’t doubt any of her advice on the matter.

She is the guiding force with her consort and my relationships with Hetheru and Heru-Wer as stabilizing influences on the journey. As I mentioned to her later, it is almost as if I am on a barque with Sekhmet in aegis form at the helm and the other three taking up strategic positions to row the boat with me at the rudder. We may not always get the rhythm right, but we at least try.

I turned to her and smiled that night. I whispered, “I’m on a boat; I’m on a boat.” She got the reference – we listen to a lot of The Lonely Island around here – and said that I wasn’t so far wrong in all that. Hopefully I don’t crash upon any rocks or become overrun by hippo.

The Inert Ones.

When I was a senior in high school, I thought it would be a great idea to take physics. I honestly don’t remember why I thought that was such a good idea because I had bombed out of chemistry the year prior and I had barely passed my physical science course my freshman year. I was much more in tune with the biological sciences – anatomy and physiology was my favorite class, to be honest, and while I barely passed astronomy, it was way up there, too.

In physics, the professor talked about inertia before I dropped the course and moved on with my life. The sum total of my knowledge prior to my senior year was an opening line during the theme song portion from Bill Nye’s television show for kids: inertia is a property of matter. What else does a 17-year-old need to know about such things?

I have never once, to my knowledge, applied anything related to physics in my adult years. I’ve applied knowledge from other science courses, usually not in direct relation to my life though. But right now, as I look at the Wiki page for inertia, I am beginning to see why a 17-year-old may need to know about it.

As seen in the First Law of Newton’s Laws of Motion, “When viewed in an inertial reference frame, an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force.” I’ve been thinking about this law quite a bit the last few weeks, reading and re-reading Wiki page after Wiki page. I keep clicking through to other semi-interesting pages, but I always head right back to the First Law of Motion.

Sometimes even science can be a sign that your ass needs to be paying attention.

inert

O you falcon who rise from the Abyss, Lord of the Celestial Waters, make me hale just as you made yourself hale. Release him, loose him, put him on earth, cause him to be loved: so says the One-Faced Lord concerning me. – excerpt from Chapter 71 of The Book of the Dead translated by R.O. Faulkner

When I was reading through My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts, I was particularly struck with the imagery of the hours as she brought them to life. Part of the reason I got so hung up on the imagery she described was the simple fact that I had already started dreaming about this stuff.

Perhaps it was a push from Hornung’s book that caused the dreams where I was sucked into the mouth of the primeval goddess, Nut. Or perhaps it was more a metamorphosis that needed to be embodied in the imagery of my religious shenanigans. In either case, I spent a long while reading and re-reading through the hours of the night as Roberts described them. I seemed unable to pull myself away anyway.

It is in the second hour of the night that the deceased find themselves at her mouth. This hour is overseen by the gateway guardian, the Lady of Trembling, and it is here that the deceased watches Sia overlooking transfigured ones. They are mummiform upon beds and Sia commands them to: “Count your hearts, receive your offerings.”

Further in the scene, there are other beings that one can discern. These beings are known as “Inert Ones”, “Punished Ones”, and “Those of the Opposite Sky”. As Roberts writes,

… they are swimming and lying, caught in various phases of a renewal process – like the process which Hathor’s child, Ihy, endures as an ‘Inert One’ in the primal waters before being reborn as a radiant child of the goddess. Sunk in their dead sleep, they lie there, passively surrendering to their fate, some in a state of great suffering, watched by the king who appears behind Sia here in the lowest register. Again the god commands them, this time saying:

Measure your banks, lift up your legs.

I found the entire concept of beings lying around, waiting for the next hour to just sort of show up kind of interesting. It seemed to suggest that one’s metamorphosis through the hours of death wasn’t always a sure-fire bet. You could know the spells, say the right words, but sometimes it didn’t really matter. It’s possible that these are beings who got trapped within the confines of the Duat, failing to use the correct words or maybe they are just persons who had given up. I just found it rather intriguing that there were nooks and crannies, places to stop for a bit because the momentum of the deceased’s journey wasn’t up to snuff. After reading through the rest of the hours, I promptly forgot about this section.

After being told about my own stagnation, I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps my journey through the body of Nut had all been a sham. After the original dream, I had some others that appears to correspond with other hours, but I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps I had never really progressed beyond the second hour gateway. It was that gateway, after all, that has stuck with me through the last year. The rest was almost ephemeral.

Perhaps my mind had made up the rest, borrowing heavily from the book I had read and whatever appearance of my forward progression was all a dream-within-a-dream, a sort of lie to myself so that I wouldn’t ever see that I was, in fact, stagnating. I honestly haven’t come to a satisfactory conclusion about all of that yet.

Did I move on?

Did I not?

Who knows?

I have to consider the possibility that through the trappings of one’s own metamorphosis that they could go back to a particular area of the Duat/night that they would prefer to be in.

I mean, look at it this way: if you had progressed beyond a specific hour and you found that the rest of the shit heading your way was too much, who is to say that you couldn’t force yourself back a few steps? Or perhaps just like when we eat our food, wouldn’t it be possible for the peristalsis of Nut’s digestive tract to send you back from whence you came?

Maybe it’s an internal reaction of Nut’s to force you back up to where you truly belong because you either lied or actually weren’t ready for what was next. Or maybe you make the decision all your own. I have to consider the fact that maybe I did get far and said, “fuck this shit; I’m out,” before heading back to the one hour where I wasn’t required to do a fucking thing. I have to also consider the possibility that Nut was just like, “ha ha, no,” and sent me back there.

I may never come to a good conclusion on what happened, but I can assert that I definitely feel like I’m right there in the second hour.

Since finding that section of the book again, I keep going back to that quote in Roberts’ book and focusing on the bit about the Inert Ones passively surrendering to their fate. That is precisely what this stagnation thing has resembled since I recognized that is what was happening. I have been allowing the ebb and flow of life to shift me wherever it wanted me to go versus swimming against the currents.

Rebirth

May he knit my bones together, may he make my members firm. May the Sistrum-player, Lord of Hearts, be brought to me that he may shape my bones and establish the Wereret-crown of Atum. – excerpt from Chapter 149 of The Book of the Dead translated by R.O. Faulkner

After re-reading the section of Hour Two in My Heart, My Mother, I found myself particularly interested in Ihy. It’s not really all that surprising, really. While it could have been expected that I would develop an interest in him prior to now, I can honestly say that I only gave him a passing glance. My relationship with Heru-Wer and Hetheru has had little to do with the side-lock bearing youth of their union.

I pulled up my resources and went to town. There wasn’t that much that I could really learn since Butler’s entry had citations that were heavily from the CT as opposed to either the PT or BD, both of which I have copies of. Still, I pressed on and considered the words of that little old woman who told me to do the fucking work or else. Luckily enough, I have the great resource that is TTR to aid me when I’m kind of like, “the fuck?”

TTR pointed out that Ihy had mentions, especially regarding birth, within Alison Roberts book, Hathor Rising. Since I was nowhere near my copy during the time of our conversation, they graciously typed up the pertinent quotes. I kind of checked out a bit after the quotes because they were all so fucking relevant. I went back to them in my own copy of Hathor Rising a while later:

To ‘become Ihy’, a person must be prepared to experience the raw materiality of existence – blood, faeces, and bodily fluids – all the messy substances and liquids which are there when life is pushed forth from the female womb. Such a birth is graphically described in Spell 334…

My awesomeness precedes me
As Ihy, Son of Hathor,
I am he who begets a begetting
I flowed out from her thighs
In this my name Jackal of the Light
I broke forth from the egg…
I escaped in her blood
I am the Lord of blood. I am turbulent bull …
I came into being, I crept, I travelled around.
I grew, I became tall like my father.

I went through this particular section a few times before I felt like I had grasped what it was that I needed to do.

I had left the little old lady’s house feeling less like I knew what to do and more like I was in another round of perpetual Kermit Arm Flail. After that visit, I was left wondering if perhaps I should just give up and let the passive surrender I had been living in keep on, keepin’ on. None of my gods had felt the least bit like helping me out in the months preceding; they had disappeared for lack of a better term.

While the person I spoke with seemed to indicate this is because I wasn’t doing my part by reaching out, I have to also point out that sometimes, relationships even with the gods are two way streets, man. And it’s never really been my way to beseech them unless I’m backed into a fucking corner. And honestly, being passive about the fate I was in looks absolutely nothing like being backed into a corner.

But as TTR wrote out each particular passage associated with Ihy and as I re-read them again later in my own copy of the book, it kind of crystallized that I could absolutely let the fate that I had been living have me. I could definitely allow the world around me to continue in its perceived shades of gray and drown from it. Or, I could puncture through and be born into the world anew.

No one ever said rebirth was easy. They just never mentioned all the blood and guts you have to go through in order to make it manifest.

The Day of Answering All of Sekhmet’s Words 2015.

Alternate Title: Look at Your Life; Look at Your Choices.

I’m honestly beginning to dread this shit heap of a holiday.

Considering the fact that last year’s “festivities” ended about a month after the date in question and with the ache from an arm recently released from a fiber glass prison, no one can really blame me for not looking forward to this day. I should also not be particularly blamed for the fact that when the morning of the ninth dawned, the first thing I did was look outside to assure myself that there was not a thick coating of ice on the ground.

By the time I left for work, I kind of felt like I was doing well. I mean, I didn’t know really what was going to happen or what sort of wayward lesson was going to get tossed my way. But you know, I had managed to leave the house without fracturing any bones. That seemed practically like a double win in my book. Just fix my gold star on my chest because I was totally winning. Twice.

It was about halfway through the day before the Lesson presented itself. I was rather expecting something of course but not what showed up. I can’t even really say that the lesson came out of left field. It was so unexpected that it was more like a meteorite landing at my feet from the asteroid belt.

If I had stopped to think about it all, I never would have even considered the lesson that presented itself to me.

When I got home and had some time to myself, calming down after the Lesson appeared, I just looked down at the icon I have of Sekhmet. I stared deeply into the little icon’s eyes and asked her, how is this what I need to pay attention to? What sort of Words are these? It’s only an icon I spoke to, but I could feel the intensity of her presence as though she was standing behind me.

That night, I turned to her in my dreams and she whispered not unkindly, “This is the lesson.” There was no argument to brook. I wouldn’t have truly tried; I’ve learned that there are things that require my attention whether I want to give it or not. This was definitely one of those moments where whatever arguments I may have formulated would have been ignored.

This was the Lesson I needed to pay attention.

The Lesson was family.

A happy family

A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.Manual of Muad’Dib by the Princess Irulan

I work a lot, even though my hours would show that I am barely full time. When I’m at lunch, if I don’t walk away from my desk, I’m working. When I get home, I’m getting calls from people who are on call with questions. When I’m getting ready for sleep, I’m thinking about what the next day will be like. When I’m sleeping, I’m dreaming about the place. I work a lot.

The S.O. works just as much as I do. His jobs are all over our area, some as far or further than my own. He has to deal with the logistics of making sure the job is done within a timely manner, keeping the ownership entity happy while his boss screws up something, as well as ensuring the proper materials are available.When he’s not working his day job, he’s tending bar at night. He works a lot, too.

While his reasons are financial, mine are stress induced and caused by idiot coworkers. We’re both in the same boat, but at least he likes his second job.

This work situation, of course, impacts my child. When he was younger, we were there but now that he is older, we have less time at home with him doing the quality time thing that he still needs. This is both of our faults though necessary in certain instances (like the S.O.’s second job or when I’m on call) and the results are beginning to manifest.

When the lesson showed up, I had to walk away. I was angry because of the situation, but mostly I was very angry with myself. I wasn’t focusing on what was important and what was right in front of me as much as I should have been. I know that I need to work in order to survive, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of my family.

I took stock that night and realized that while the issues seemed insurmountable, it was just a perception. I could overcome them through hard work and sheer determination. I had spent too many nights wrung out from sheer exhaustion because of my job and I needed to figure a way to allow the exhaustion to hit while simultaneously repairing things while I have time to do so.

Seemed a bit like a tough pill to swallow, but not everything is impossible.

After calming down, I had to look deep inside. I realized that the issues had been A Thing for a while and I had known that. I just hadn’t done anything to ameliorate the problems. This seems to be an ongoing theme lately. I know something is happening – I just don’t do anything to fix it until I have to.

My relationship with my wild river...!!!

It is the attempt to see the Light without knowing Darkness. It cannot be. – Manual of Muad’Dib by the Princess Irulan

I knew there would be more to the Lesson. Nothing is as simple as it looks.

Slowly, I began delving a little deeper each night into this. It became difficult to look at the big picture. I had become narrowly focused. It was like looking at an Impressionist painting too closely; there is a whole image to look at, but you can only see the brush strokes in front of your nose. The haystack or starry night you could be looking at is lost in the shuffle.

In one of those timely things that seem to happen when you’re head isn’t in the game, someone I follow on Tumblr posted about how they consider themselves as a part of a divine family unit with their gods. I read through the post a few times, digesting the message. It kind of clicked that while my meat space family unit was important, for obvious reason, so too is the divine family unit(s).

It may not be what others could expect to find with divine siblings, cousins, and the like but it is a family unit. There is the main grouping of Ptah and Sekhmet with me in the tertiary, child role. And then there is the sub grouping of Hetheru and Heru-Wer with me as a tertiary, fulfilling multiple designations at once.

It occurred to me that I’ve been neglecting them, too. I wish I could lay the blame for my neglect with something that isn’t me. But the only person to blame is myself, just as with my relationship with my son and my significant other.

I am the one constant in these situations.

As important as my gods have been in my life, I have found myself doubting and feeling unable to buoy myself beyond it. The stagnation isn’t really helping either, of course, but the dragging my feet thing that I’ve been doing is only causing damage to all parties involved..

I know what I must do in order to fix the damage here. I can see the path quite clearly. It’s just a matter of kicking my ass into gear and getting it done.

Repair

Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic. – The Sayings of Muad’Dib by the Princess Irulan

The lesson I learned last year was about my own impatience. I’ve given up on arbitrary dates to get things done and slowed down enough to take a look at the scenery. That’s part of the reason why this post, as with last year’s, is coming around a month after the holiday in question.

This year, I had to slow down again, only this time to a snail pace. It was the slow but steady movement that aided me in bringing the lesson into sharp focus. I had to stop long enough while I went through this lesson in depth. I had to look at myself in the mirror and reassess what “important” really means.

Money and survival are a top priority. I like having a roof over my head and being able to put gas in my car. I like being able to buy offerings for my gods and providing for them. But so too is a good and solid foundation for all of my family units. It’s a balancing act and I haven’t been balancing very well. I have to learn to do that better.

It’s a slow process. Bouncing back isn’t an immediate thing. Even knowing that, it’s still a tall order to fill some days. But I know that there is a bright light ahead. It won’t be perfect when I get there, but it will be a vast improvement from the way things are now… hopefully.

This year, just like last year, I looked at my life.

This year, just like last year, I looked at my choices.

I found things that I wasn’t pleased with and I began the learning curve on how to cut that shit out.

Relevant Posts

  1. The Day of Answering All of Sekhmet’s Words 2014
  2. Divine Family Unit by Seek

What Thou Liv’st.

I have fears. It’s probably a symptom of the human condition, which only highlights that I am, in fact, human. But, be sure that I have fears and they can be all consuming.

I don’t reach out to my gods for help. I have this integral belief that I should be able to do it myself. But this is compounded by one of my fears: the fear that if I do, in fact, reach out and I get what I ask for, I will in turn be required to do something as payment.

I’m terrible at follow through and know myself enough to recognize that bribery isn’t my forté simply because I probably won’t be able to see to what I promised. This is concerning because, what if they hit me with a serious case of insanity or death for reneging on the deal? That would put a big crimp in any plans I might have and a larger one on the human condition thing.

This fear isn’t a byproduct of recent conversations or things I’ve been going through, things I’ve dreamed or read in the cards. It’s always been there. It’s been hatching like a snake in the back of my mind and slithered through all the lobes of my brain until it found the one it wanted to devour: the fear center.

I’m not telling you this because I want people to feel bad for me or anything. I’m sharing this because I am human and I am terrified, something people looking from the outside might not see. The false confidence of the Leo is misleading. I’m terrified I’ll ask for help and get it.

But I’m even more frightened of the idea that they won’t answer my request.

Dream Walk

The mind is its own place, and in itself; Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n. – Paradise Lost, Book I by John Milton

Recently, I woke from a dream that left me shaking and frightened. The place doesn’t matter; my actions do. I was screaming the name of a divinity that I had no business calling for. The deity doesn’t work that way – and I know this – but still I yelled their name. Perturbed by my dreaming shenanigans, I reached out to the one person I could turn to. We came up with a game plan.

I had ideas and thoughts about what this could all mean, of course. I’m the person who will sit and stew on something for a long time, parsing out the little bits. The location of the dream in which I screamed this name was not surprising. It’s a place I’ve always associated with that particular aspect of things. The name bothered me. It made me start to worry that I hadn’t in fact proceeded as far as I thought. All signs seemed to point to it, but I decided that I needed assistance in figuring it all out, just in case.

I made plans to meet with someone who could give me some direction.

In the intervening weeks since this dream, my dreams have only become more one dimensional but still that much more confusing.

The other day, I dreamed that I needed to feed my gods; either a Message of Significance or internalized guilt at having been slacking in that department lately. The day before the game plan was to take place, I dreamed of mountains. Cold, distant peaks colored as gray as dull stone and covered in thick blankets of snow. As if to reinforce the message, I pulled the Lenormand card, the Mountain, the day I woke up from my mountain dream.

It was like everything was pointing to what I thought, but I couldn’t be sure. I don’t trust my intuition probably as much as I should. It seemed more important to get an outsider’s point of view.

Dust demons of the divine nature

Long is the way; And hard, that out of Hell leads up to Light. – Paradise Lost, Book II by John Milton

I met with a very nice older woman who pulled out her deck and began looking around. She poked and prodded, pursing her lips as she looked. It all came down to stagnation though. She likened me to a house that had been built, solid foundations and people admire the facade for what it could be, but nothing is going on inside. She said I needed to do the Work and get going, or else things weren’t going to go well.

There were other things that I am still parsing out, things that have angered me and wounded me. I needed to hear them, but the overall message was a sort of refresher course: none of what she told me was shocking. None of what she told me was off the wall. None of what she told me was surprising in any way. I already knew everything she had to tell me.

It seemed almost like an exercise in futility on my way home. And on my way home, I was so angry. I was pissed off and wanted to scream. I cried a little after I got back onto the pike and saw the first sign saying that home was 72 miles away. I wanted to be home already, buried underneath a blanket and glaring. I stopped crying – I don’t emote very well – and just seethed inwardly.

Upon reflection, it seems as though I have erected myself – in the image of the house – and then went on walkabout, unable or unwilling to complete it. Looking back at the last three years of my life, I can see the hard work I did in the build. I can even see where I just said, “fuck this shit,” and noped the fuck out. Nothing said was untrue; it just hurt to hear the same things I already knew about myself coming from a complete stranger’s lips.

After a good long talk with TTR, I felt nominally calmer and much better about the whole situation. I had hatched a sort of plan, a maybe kind of plan, and would mull on how to proceed, or if I even bothered to proceed.

Klitsa Mountain

So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear – Paradise Lost, Book IV by John Milton

The outsider’s perspective matches up with my own interpretation completely: I am a being of stagnation. I wondered briefly if I had embodied the lesson of the Hermit card a little too closely. Suffice to say, neither of our viewpoints are wrong. I can even see where it began; when the cancerous growth of torpor became too big a cross to bear and I stopped trying to deal with it in any way.

One thing she emphasized while doing the reading was that I don’t reach out for help with my divinities. She asked me point blank: “How do you pray?” Startled, I looked at her and told her that I don’t. This hearkens back to the fears above. Why reach out to them and pay a price I may not be able to pay? Or, in turn, why reach out and get my requests ignored?

When I told her this, she nodded at me thoughtfully. It almost felt a little bit like pity.

But the point still stands. I must do the work in order to get out of the pit I’m currently in. I can reach out to the resources I have available to me, ignore the fear I have of being ignored, and go that route. Or I can ford across and delve onto new pathways that leave me leery and uncertain. Or I can do nothing whatsoever and reap the rewards that brings.

The thing I’ve been finding lately is that when it comes to stagnation, it only seems to breed more. For months I’ve wanted out of this hole, trying to get out of the “being stuck” feeling I’ve had, and ended up thwarted. It almost felt like the universe was forcing me back into the niche. I haven’t decided if this is just seeming coincidences lined up in a neat row or if there’s More than I want to consider.

In either case, I would prefer to not reap the benefits of doing nothing. That way leads to darkness, apparently. As dark and dreary as things may be, I would prefer to find the light and let it lead me out of the rut I’m in. I guess I’m lucky that I know someone who has a very close affinity with flames…

May she light my darkness and lead me to where I should be going.

(The title of this piece is taken from a quote from Book XI of Paradise Lost by John Milton. The full quote: Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou liv’st; Live well; how long or short permit to Heaven.)

Local Cultus: Landmarks.

Where I live, there are numerous landmarks that have always spoken to me.

The river that I live near has always been a feature of my life. Whether I noticed that it was there or not, the number of bridges – both current and those long since run down and no longer used – speaks to the importance of this landmark in our area. There are certain parks and dormant fields, farmed fields and copses of trees that all have had special meaning to me in some form or another since I was a child. There are mountains to the north that create picturesque backdrop to farming communities and major cities alike.

It is these landmarks that I look for as I drive somewhere and over the years, my gods have begun to infiltrate those landmarks.

BMK_6883 m

Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish, now are visions ne’er to vanish; from thy spirit shall they pass – Spirits of the Dead by Edgar Allen Poe

Across the road from my home, an off-shoot of the main river in my area runs. It was once used for factories and commerce; now it flows idly past in the warmer months and partially frozen in the winter. Since I have moved to where I live now, I can count on two hands the numbers of suicides that have jumped off the bridge near my home. To me, this river serves as a reminder of death, of grief and mourning, of the souls who have departed.

Is it any wonder that when I walk by, when I stop to watch the fallen trees slowly make their way down the water fall and the crags of rocks below, that I think of Wesir?

Wesir has always had river imagery for me, a byproduct of my conversations with TTR. But too, this appearance of Wesir within a river, demanding death and rebirth, has infiltrated my own inner workings. What surprised me recently was the indication that both Ptah and Sokar have similar river imagery and associations for me: it seems that the running of the water, the babbling brooks and the roar of the water fall when the river is over full from winter run off, have all soaked into my conscious and subconscious, illustrating the connection with the deceased over and over again.

In the Old Kingdom, the pharaoh was reborn to become a star. This particular imagery has always spoken to me, as though the bright stars that they would become could formulate a new pattern in the Milky Way, a river-like monstrosity of stars in the sky. While the Milky Way was seen more as a puddle (associated with Bat, before she became syncretized with Hetheru), it seemed more like a river and more like the domain of Wesir, and by extension Ptah and Sokar, to me. The night sky; the river. They are like mirror images of each other and they all relate back to the deceased, to the gods associated with the deceased, and the realms that they oversee.

The river, to me, is not a once majestic aspect of commerce, but a haven for the dead. When I want to whisper to my akhu without traveling to their graves, I whisper to the river. I pour my heart and soul into my akhu, tumbling it into that river. In my mind, I light candles on little boats and watch them go over the falls to crash upon the rocks below.

Change

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same. – If by Rudyard Kimpling

For two years of my life, I lived beneath the shelter of the southernmost and highest peak in a nearby mountain range. When I woke in the morning, I could sit upon the back stoop and watch the sun wake the deciduous trees that made the mountain in its home. In the evening, I could be comforted in the knowledge that I would fall asleep in the snug embrace of the mountain that was once the backdrop to many of my dreams. This mountain has always spoken to me of change, of the chaos of those changes, and the wealth and starvation that those changes have wrought.

It has never been any surprise that I see Set in the rock-lined road, the cliff peak that overlooks the valley below, and the sentinel-like trees of the mountain. It was only slightly more shocking that Hetheru had joined him in that place.

Set has always been a being of change in some form or another for me. He has always been the one that has come to me when things have gone through those moments, signaling that an ending was coming but so, too, a beginning was on the horizon. Sometimes his arrival was a signal that it was time to jump off the peaks and see what came; other times, his advice heralded caution as the road was treacherous since it had been washed out ahead.

As I drove over the mountain or passed it by, I could see him running across the mountains in his strange unknown animal-headed form wreaking both havoc in dead falls and feet of snow and bringing new growth and new life. His touch culminated in the way the trees swayed in the breeze, the rich plume of colors in spring, the fiery red and gold of the autumn months, the pure white breath of Father Winter after a snow storm and the icy breath of death that came like a stranger in the night and froze the empty branches in place.

It was with surprise that I found Hetheru there, not in the form of the wild deer that I had seen on the side of the mountain road or in the shadow of the mountain down below, but in the form of the goddess who greeted those after the ultimate change of life had come upon them: the moment after death.

During the New Kingdom period and later periods, she has been depicted in her bovine shape, greeting those who have traveled to the West upon their death. It was almost with amazement and then later with a sort of obviousness that I could see her traversing the western edge of the mountain, greeting the souls who were searching for their afterlife. With her horns adorned with flowers and her big, brown eyes, I can see her softly enchanting those who have passed and entice them towards the realm their souls crave. She is a calming voice in a sea of change.

The mountain, to me, is not a place of geocaching, cross-country skiing, or hiking; it is a bastion of metamorphosis. When I worry for what new things are upon the horizon, I go to the mountain and let me fears soak into the land, letting the tree roots bring my message to Set. I murmur my grief for the departed to the trees and ask that they tell Hetheru that her role as greeter is upon her.

Leica Q - L1100105

Here come real stars to fill the upper skies, and here on earth come emulating flies… – Fireflies in the Garden by Robert Frost

The backyard of my in-laws’ home has been meticulously landscaped with plants in bloom from spring through fall. There are pots filled to the brim with vegetables, terraces of various blooms, and ancestral trees and bushes that baptize the herringbone patterns of the bricked patio. Overhanging the soft scent of blooming flowers are trees of cedar, pitch pine, and maple older than the house itself.

It’s taken time for my gods to soak into this place, but I have found both Ptah and Sekhmet in this place.

For some time now, Ptah has had garden associations for me. A year or so ago, I dreamed that I was in a garden that was very clearly his, roaming through flowers of various types and blooms amid butterflies and bees. Behind me, both Sekhmet and Ptah had been playing a quiet game of Jackals and Hounds. I had spent the time resting and soaking up serenity as I do when I sit in the backyard at my in-laws’ place.

Those stolen moments in the garden, both in life and in dreams, are signal points that I need to take a time out from the constancy of the world to recharge my batteries. It is in this role that Ptah seems most adept, even considering his other associations both historical and personal. He is a quiet bulwark, a symbolic statue in the garden of such intense presence that I can only soak up the calm he emits and carry it with me on my journey.

In his triune associations with Sekhmet, she, too, has come to represent a certain calm among the storm. While our relationship has not always been smooth or easy, it has been months since our last fall out and she has come to radiate the same sort of calm that her consort has in spades.

Perhaps it was that moment in the garden dream from last year, and the subsequent dreams in the last year, or perhaps it was only the necessary change in our relationship which had been steadily gaining on me that caused this. Less has she been the demanding chaotic task master hurricane that I had once seen her as and more the eye of the storm.

The garden, to me, is less about hard work perpetrated by my mother-in-law, but a haven of peace. When I need to step back from the wildness of reality around me, I can stop at my in-law’s home and let myself down the terraced steps of mosaic stones, letting the tingle of serenity tingle through my being. When the weather is too cold and the icy chill of winter is upon us, I can close my eyes and return to those moments in the garden with Ptah and Sekhmet, watching the butterflies proliferate in their calming silence.

It has been a long road of wandering, but over time, I have found my gods in places I had never expected them.

Almost like thieves in the night, I have found my gods in the world around me, in the places that I have always felt close to or amazed by. As I drive down the main roadways of routes and highways, as I stop to admire landscaping and fields, as I drive through town after town, watching the natural world change in each new place, they have waved to me. They have found me in a world that I have inhabited since my youth, calling out to me as a reminder that they are always there, whether I see them or not.

Feast of the Soaring Falcon 2015.

November 2, 2015 – November 17, 2015

I’m beginning to believe that when it comes to holidays that I add into my calendar that I will always be left wondering what the point is.

When I was informed that the Feast of the Soaring Falcon was occurring, a 15-day festival, I immediately took to Google. Aside from the KO prayer book stating that the holiday was a thing and something mentioned in a book by Normandi Ellis, I came up with absolutely nothing on what this festival was about. I pulled out the 2 books that I have about Edfu, hoping to find something of import there, but again came away with nothing.

All I knew was that for fifteen days, the ancient Egyptians celebrated a soaring falcon.

It seems like more and more, especially with regard to holidays about Horus, I’m left guessing. I have to sit in reflection more than I have in the past regarding any holidays that I celebrate for Hetheru or Sekhmet, trying to determine what could possibly be occurring and why.

As with the 3-day Festival of the Winged Disk, I came away feeling as if it was all a grand mystery… and I had no clues to investigate properly.

I spent much of the first week just kind of sitting around, contemplating the icon of Horus in the off moments. I could see gold and sparkles; I could see banquets of food just laid out to be picked over; I could see incense and maybe even hymns of some sort being sung. But it was all an imaginary world of my own choosing. None of it was based on what may have happened in antiquity. I was only guessing.

I will be honest and admit that I mostly didn’t care. Things have been hard lately. The time off that I decided to take after I posted my Boundaries post is important and necessary; I need to work through a lot of things related to my personal life as well as my religious life. Throughout all of this, I have been waging a daily war, it seems like, against my anxiety and depression. There are some days where I don’t feel as though I have won the battle. Other days, I feel like I have.

Falcon

The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim. – Sun Tzu

Every day, I pull up my silly little Tarot app and see what card it chooses for me to represent that day. I like the app. It’s an easy way to access divination tools without having to pull out a deck to shuffle. I guess that might paint me as a lazy diviner, but whatever. The apps that I have downloaded are easy, simple, and usually pretty damn accurate.

For weeks and weeks, I’ve been getting the same old cards. I get it – I get that things need to change. I get that I’m at the edge of a precipice and if I don’t stop, then things are going to wind up looking more like the Devil card or even the Tower. These are two cards that frighten me, worry me, set off my anxiety a bit. I don’t like those cards at all, but the recent spate of Swords with an occasional smattering of less painful cards has put me on edge.

I keep looking over my shoulder, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

About halfway through this particular holiday, after I had settled myself in with a nice cup of coffee and finished my French lesson of the day, I pulled up my little Tarot app and looked at my daily card. I was expecting something a little more frightening, a little more worrisome than the 5 of Cups. It was almost with a sigh of relief that I read the little advice above the divination interpretation the app provides:

If you’re feeling sad or down today, honor those feelings. Don’t try to push them away. Whatever loss or disappointment you’ve experienced lately deserves to be felt. When you take the time to really feel your feelings, you can process them, learn from them, and then move forward, with greater self-awareness and wisdom.

5 of Cups

This is a card of loss, of grief, of disappointments.

The same day that I pulled the 5 of Cups, while I was at work, I reached up and fingered the ib pendant that I wear daily around my neck. As I clasped the pendant in my hand, the cord began to slip from around my neck. I pulled it free and saw that the knot I had used to secure one side had come loose… again.

Recently, I had swapped out the frayed black cord the amulet had come with for a red, silken cord. Since the cord is silken, the knots I have tied in to it so that I may tighten and loosen the necklace around my neck come undone randomly. I expected the piece to come loose again since it had been months since the last time. But for some reason, it felt like a blow to the stomach when I pulled the necklace into my hands and studied the side that had come loose.

It felt like a metaphor for everything: my whole life was becoming undone and I just don’t know if I have the strength to figure out how to fix it. I didn’t have time to fix the knot before I had to jump on a conference call and so, I slipped the piece into my pocket until I got home. When I got home, I plunked it down in front of Sekhmet and just stared at the loose side, trying to get up the energy to re-tie the piece together.

But the nagging feeling that this stupid silken cord with the dark spots at the edges from daily use was the perfect representation of me, my life, of the way things had been lately wouldn’t stop. I kept staring at it and finally just left it on the altar. I figured I could get around to tying it at some point, but as I lay the necklace down at Sekhmet’s feet, I couldn’t imagine caring enough to actually getting around to re-tying the knots.

I didn’t know if I ever would care enough to get around to it.

Undone

It was not… that she was unaware of the frayed and ragged edges of life. She would merely iron them out with a firm hand and neatly hem them down. – P.D. James

It was at that moment that I finally realized what this celebration was about at least for this year, at this moment in time.

On that day when I pulled the 5 of Cups, I listened to the advice provided by that card pull. I stopped letting myself keeping moving autonomously forward and instead, sat for the day and allowed the grief and disappointment to fill me. I was like an empty cup – heh – and allowed those feelings to fill me. I let it overflow and then I poured it into the land around me. I let the world soak up the after effects of my disappointment, depression, anxiety, fear, and grief.

The next day, I looked up at the sky and watched as a hawk soared above me. I don’t see them as much right now. It’s November and the prey is harder to find, I guess. But I saw that animal swooping down over the trees and I knew that it had found something juicy to eat, something delectable that would see it through for a while. I watched the hunting predator and I knew that this holiday was less about celebrating Horus and his soaring falcon form and more about me and my attempts to get into soaring falcon form.

The ancient Egyptian representation of a soaring falcon is a symbol of strength and protection. In its feet, the falcon clasps shen rings – protection. The outstretched wings show a beast upon the hunt, finding what it needs in order to survive. I could embody that form, but in order to do so, I needed to work up to it.

You can’t just get onto a bike and instantly know how to ride it; you can’t just put on roller skates and instantly know everything you need to know in order to maintain your balance. It takes work – hard work in some cases – to get up to form.

I have to let these issues roll through me, pass over me, and vomit up the sorrow, pain, anger, depression as I can in order to make it possible to take off. The Litany Against Fear is often used within the original Dune universe. It’s kind of like the last half of the mantra:

I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Only instead of fear, I am working on all of the other types of emotions that bog me down, that suck me into the mire like quicksand.

This holiday wasn’t about the soaring falcon, wasn’t about celebrating Horus and all the joys that he brings me. This holiday was about reminding me that in order to be in tip top shape, I have to sit and just be sometimes. I have to work through my own stuff in order to be the only thing that remains at the end of it all. And in that moment, maybe then I will be the soaring falcon I know I can be.

Pray for Paris; Pray for Beirut.

Six months before my tenth birthday, a truck bomb was detonated in the parking garage of the North Tower of the World Trade Center complex.

I don’t know why my mother wasn’t home, but I can remember seeing the nightly news and being horrified by what I saw. It was my first real glimpse, I think, of the horror that existed in the world. I was, like many people driving by a car crash on the highway, unable to pull my attention away from the news reports, watching the videos and listening to the news commentators.

I can remember sitting in our living room and trying to figure out what this meant to me and how it could possibly impact me. I tried to imagine what it must be like to have had family work in the towers on February 26, 1993 and not knowing if they were all right. I tried to imagine what it would be like if my mother had been killed in an attack like that and was overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty.

It seemed like the world was filled with fear and uncertainty, horrors that a nine-year-old can’t fully comprehend. As a thirty-two year old woman, I still can’t fully understand them.

Paris is Not Afraid

Parisians gather after the Charlie Hebdo attack on January 7, 2015 to show the world how this attack has impacted them.

Right along with the rest of the world, I was watching the stories unfold from Paris last night. I can’t recall where I first saw the story pop up on my radar, but I read through the articles I could find as the story developed. I went through the tags on Twitter, looking for posts and information. I watched as innocent men, women, and children had their lives shattered by violence. From my comfortable couch, I felt chills and sorrow that are but a drop in the bucket compared to the people waking up in France today.

The attacks that occurred last night appear to have been carefully orchestrated and have left more than a 100 dead. The president has closed the borders and has indicated that the next 3 days will be days of mourning for the loss of life. I was overwhelmed with the state of it all, just like that day when I was nine years old and watching the aftermath of that truck bombs in 1993.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’.”

I saw the above quote on Tumblr and began looking around for that and I found it.

Men and women came together, tweeting safe havens and instructions on how to find them, cities across the world showed the French national colors in solidarity, and people around the world prayed for Paris. I have found myself combing through stories this morning, reading as much as my heart can handle. There were many people helping last night.

While combing through the Parisian records, I found out that Beirut had been attacked the day before. I hadn’t known. Nothing about it had crossed my periphery. I’m finding that happens more and more, though. It seems like, unless the damage ISIL has wrought is against a historical monument or something related, I don’t see it in the news very much. I wonder if we’re just inured to the violence that seems to be happening on a regular basis in the middle East.

With a heavy heart, I began looking through the news reports to see what had occurred, what I had missed. Violence broke out in Beirut this week in the form of two suicide bombs. According to what I had found, the ISIL, as with Paris, has taken the claim for these acts. There were acts of heroism in Beirut, too. Now the people of Beirut mourn just as Paris does.

Along with other Tumblr Kemetics, I found myself unable to stand by and just watch all the tweets and news reports flow to us, giving us minor updates on such a huge situation. I couldn’t fathom what was happening in either Paris or what had happened in Beirut. I couldn’t wrap my head around it and in my confusion, I turned to the gods.

With a little over 100 notes, we offered suggestions and ideas on what we could do to help from our removed positions.

The Art of Flame

Tonight we are victorious – Victorious by Panic! at the Disco

It seems like more and more the world has become a scary place, a place filled with real live monsters. The quote from Aliens that Newt says to Ripley seems particularly more and more accurate with each passing month and each passing day. As more reports filter down to the masses, stating that someone or many someones has done something that should be seen as inhumane:

“My mommy always said there were no monsters, no real ones, but there are.”

Instead of grotesque xenomorphs running rampant across far-flung planets and space ships, we have the human equivalent running rampant here, on Earth, and it seems like when you take down one (or they take down themselves) six more pop up in that empty space.

I worry and worry. My son is seven and he’s already become aware of the things that people can do, can inflict on others. He may not know the specifics, but he’s been taught about 9/11 and the changes in the world that happened afterward. He’s already been taught other horrors, aware of the Charlie Hebdo attack in January of this year, and asked questions about it.

I was 9 when I became aware, for the first time, that the world was not always a good place. I was 9 when I realized that the idyllic world that I resided in was not the same as what other people lived and breathed in. My son was 6 when he first learned about the World Trade Center bombing in 2001. He was born into a world where these things are more common, happen with a frequency that both saddens and frightens me.

I am tired. I find myself exhausted and overwhelmed with the stream of reports, with the news that something else is happening and it is Big and Scary. We cannot hide our heads underneath the blankets and fervently wish for the monsters to go away or scream out to our parents, demanding that they fight off the evil monster for us. The monsters live and breathe in this world right along side us and hope to extinguish us for whatever twisted, frightening reason resides in their heads.

We must turn on our night lights and fight back, with magic and with prayer, with solidarity and courage against the extremists who would scare us back beneath the covers. No matter where the violence is occurring – a European capital or a city in the Middle East – we must fight back and show these people that we are not afraid.

I stand with Paris and with Beirut. Do you?

Festival of the Winged Disk 2015.

November 2, 2015 – November 4, 2015

The Legend of the Winged Disk is one of my favorite myths. I can admit to being biased, though. There are very few myths specific to Heru-Wer that I have been able to find, so it is truly no surprise why I’d like the Winged Disk myth so much.

Copies of this myth were inscribed at the Edfu Temple complex, which was a very old temple rebuilt during the Ptolemaic era. As with many of the Heru myth cycles that we have read, the basis is a Heru, in this case Heru-Wer as the son of Re, goes forth at Re’s request to tear asunder enemies. Heru of Behdet was sent forth as a great winged disk and was able to achieve victory over the enemies. (A full recount can be found here.)

This is where the winged sun disk gets its name: behdeti.

I looked for this holiday in the two Edfu books I have. These are my main resources at the moment in my ongoing search for more information regarding Heru-Wer. Unfortunately, as seems to often be the case with most of the information that relates to the various forms of Heru, the information I have found seems to mostly be glossed over in an effort to jump through to the Osirian myth cycles.

Based entirely on the name for this holiday, I can only assume that we are celebrating the Winged Disk and perhaps its victory over the enemies of Re. I can’t be sure if that is the case, however, as this celebration comes prior to the Festival of Victory which occurs (according to The House of Horus at Edfu by Barbara Watterson) in the second month of winter.

Even though this celebration comes well before the Festival of Victory, I think it’s probably an important celebration in its own right. It is specific to Heru of Behdet whereas Watterson’s discussion regarding the Festival of Victory seems to be more inclined towards all of the various victories that have occurred because of one of the Heru.

I think this is a reminder, a signpost so to speak, that Heru-Wer, in his aspect as Heru of Behdet, was an important warrior in his own right and something that we, as modern polytheists, should celebrate.

IMG_7080

Lintel above the entrance to the Edfu temple.

One of the things that I have often found when I’ve interacted with other people regarding Heru-Wer is that he is very “chill.” I guess relaxed would be the most appropriate word. But something that has always rang true for me was an online friend’s description: that he is a tired vet, enjoying the quiet and solitude after having been there and done that.

The prevailing idea that Heru-Wer is a “chill” deity, while not inaccurate, forgets the fact that he is also a deity who has slaughtered enemies. The link above says it all: he brought forth such a dizzying array against the enemies of Re that they became confused enough to kill one another. In effect, he did his job so splendidly that he was able to get the enemies of Re to do the hard work on his behalf.

While combing through Borghouts not that long ago, I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of mention of a Heru standing behind the hekau while the heka was being conducted. While I can’t say definitively which Heru was referenced, it still kind of stuck with me. It almost seemed to me, as I mentioned to a friend of mine in the last few months, as though the hekau was stating, “I am bad ass and I am so bad ass that I have Heru at my back who will definitely mess up your day if you do not do what I am telling you to do.”

This is unverified of course, but it always kind of made me think of Heru of Behdet, of that solar disk with its wings outstretched, with the dazzling array slammed against the enemies of Re. Maybe it wasn’t really just a Heru standing behind the hekau but all the power and might of the behdeti itself.

Edfu Temple

Edfu Temple

This festival was quiet for me. I haven’t been myself lately. I’ve often felt the need to sit and retire early, a requirement to sleep more and to pay better attention to what my body is telling me. (It’s telling me that I need to slow down even more, honestly.) I wanted to do something big and expansive – after all, Heru-Wer is very important to me as a deity.

But it occurred to me that if this is about the Winged Disk, if this is about its dizzying display, if this is about its victory over the enemies of Re, then I could use that to my advantage. This festival became less about big and expansive; it became more about me. It became a few days in time, a space between the ticking seconds to sit back and breathe, to plan my mode of attack so that I, too, like my deity long ago could unleash a dizzying display and destroy my enemies in a massive display as well.

I guess you could say that I used this time to plot with the intention of one day unleashing that display. I can’t be a good warrior if I don’t know what the end game is supposed to look like and I can’t offer a good display of frightening plumage if I’m too tired to do much more than stare blankly until I fall asleep. Self-care is important – integral – to maintaining the status quo.

I’m taking back the crown
I’m all dressed up and naked
I see what’s mine and take it
(Finders keepers, losers weepers)
Oh yeah
The crown…
So close I can taste it
I see what’s mine and take it
(Finders keepers, losers weepers)
Oh yeah

Emperor’s New Clothes by Panic! at the Disco

I would like to think that Heru-Wer agreed with me on my determination that taking care of myself was important here.

For the first day of the festival, I saw a northern goshawk streak over my car. The shadow it left reminded me of the behdeti. Yesterday, I heard the shriek of a hunting hawk in the distance. And this morning, a rough-legged hawk flew over my car before flying passed my open window.

I’d like to think that he was letting me know that he’s watching over me, providing me with the skills I will need in order to embody the winged sun disk.