Kemetic Round Table: Welcome to the New Deja Vu.

I’ve been trying to remember how long I’ve been doing this shtick and you know, I can’t honestly remember when I started being mystically bewildered. I think I started all of this bullshit about 6 years ago, but the memories from so long ago are hazy. I guess this is what happens when you have so much shit going on in your life: it’s hard to remember the exact details of what was happening half a decade (or more) ago. I guess it doesn’t matter because as far as it feels, I’ve been tap dancing to the same beat for an eternity.

Lost Lake

Sometimes, it seems so clear and other times, it seems lost in a fog bank. (Image by Ben Canales.)

Things have changed so much in the intervening years, I know that much. At times, I am both amazed and horrified by how things have turned out. It’s almost as if I had this sort of set plan for what I was hoping to achieve, which was less a plan and more of a vague arm wave in a general direction, and I have veered completely away from whatever that plan was supposed to be. And still at other times, I am very much relieved that I am not that wide-eyed, naive little shit. I have developed and redefined both myself and my relationships. I have an arsenal at my disposal – something that old me would have been whining about not having – and I am grateful for it.

But there are days, where I do indeed miss being the naive little shit.

Looking back down the fucking years, I think the question more appropriate here is how hasn’t my practice changed since I started all of this because everything has changed. I mean, I actually have a practice for fuck’s sake! I started this blog with a bunch of whining and sniveling about how I wanted to be like everybody else but didn’t know how to get there. I have things that I do regularly; I have prayers that I say to myself; I have an established dictionary of referenced and not-referenced UPG; I have books that I can go to for information; I have relationships with deities for shit’s sake. Sure there have been exciting additions and some sorrowful subtractions, but at the end of the day, my practice has changed so much that to actually discuss it with any fucking semblance of brevity would probably require about 20 years and a lot of generic arm flailing.

I do still whine about not having a manual. I think about half of my posts I’m commenting about having missed out on the sale of all of the HOW TO books that must be floating out there. I mean, for real, they have to exist because there are so many other bloggers out there who seem to have their collective shit together. And that’s something that hasn’t changed either: I still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing. I mean I have things and stuff that I do and I guess that could qualify as “looking” as if I have my collective shit together, but honestly, I end up whining and crying about not understanding what’s happening more often than not.

So, I guess that’s a win for constantly feeling like I’m at the tip top of a roller coaster, getting ready to zoom down at a million miles an hour.

The overwhelming thing that hasn’t changed though is that Sekhmet is still here. (Why?) She’s pushed me, pulled me, destroyed me, burned me to cinders, loved me, protected me, molded me anew, killed me, brought me back to life, slit my throat, sewn up the wounds, fucked with me, put up with my bullshit, let me cry, let me whine, made me fall in love with her, forced me into uncomfortable places, et cetera. She’s turned me into a pretzel of her own devising and it sucks.

There are so many days where I’m screaming inside, crying unshed tears, and demanding to know why the fuck I’m going through this, but at the end of the day, I am glad for it all. It’s changed me so much into the person who I am today. I can remember times where I didn’t like who I was at all and now, I can honestly say that while I may not “love” myself in the ways that those stupid trippy posters tell you that you should, I can honestly say that I respect myself. And I can’t in all honesty say if that would be the case if Sekhmet wasn’t around.

I never expected anything that’s come my way since I tentatively said to my friends (of the time), “I think Sekhmet is calling and I think she has been for a very long time.” I thought that once I entered into that relationship then I was halfway to finding a solid path. I honestly believed that by finally admitting that this was a thing then I would end up with, like, some idea of what was going to come next. Or maybe I just assumed that the alpha and omega was Sekhmet. And you know, that is actually true but there’s so much more to everything I do – the relationships, the daily offerings, the whining, the initiations, the services, the ranting, etc – than just she being the beginning, middle, and the end. But now I have whole books’ worth of UPG just regarding our relationship, never mind anything else.

♥ For The Love Of Candy!!!! ♥


She gave me the candy and I got into the van. (Image by stoopidgerl.)

Honestly, if someone new were to look at this entry and wonder what it was that they could learn from me, I would honestly have to say that they shouldn’t go into this with the idea that they’ll end up having a practice that looks like someone else’s. If they do and things don’t work out the way that they expect them to, then they’re going to be disappointed with the whole experience. I went into this whole thing with a sort of panicked wide-eyed gleam and no real idea about what the hell I was doing. It was only after I entered down this road and began networking that I got the idea that I wasn’t good enough or that I didn’t meet up to some invisible standard I was holding myself to which caused a lot of issues between Sekhmet and I. I laugh about it now but I have to say, holding myself to everyone else’s ideas of what a path should be like fucked with me and fucked with my relationship. So don’t do that.

And you know, it’s okay to be scared of what’s going on.

And don’t get upset if your UPG doesn’t quite match up with anyone else’s.

And don’t think that there is one true way here because we’re all individuals with individual relationships and individual preferences.

And don’t think that there’s a moment in time where you’ll be able to say, “I’ve done it; I’ve learned everything.” There will always be something new and exciting and terrifying on the horizon waiting for you.

And don’t worry that you’re doing something wrong because you don’t have a godphone or you don’t have UPG or you can’t astral or the gods don’t come down as beings of white light to give you dreams or whatever. That’s okay. Not everyone’s cut from the same cloth and so too our relationships with our gods.

And don’t hesitate to tell people that they can have fun when they’re doing the serious rituals and stuff. And don’t forget to remind yourself of that.

And don’t think that Egyptological books are the start and finish of everything.

And if you love your fucking gods, then you fucking love your gods.

And if shit comes at you from left field, you are perfectly entitled to scream and run away.

And if you’re so fucking pissed at your gods that you hate them, then by golly you fucking hate them.

And if you don’t have a strong emotion either way but this is a job to you, then you rock at that job of yours.

And like kick ass and take some fucking names.

The River: Broken Pottery.

We descend upon the darkness and my breath is robbed. Before us, there is infinite blackness. It is inky and violent, soft and tender. The aching sweetness mingled with the heart-stopping fear is too much. I can feel a part of my shattering into the night and I am lost. I was lost the moment we came here, but he knew that would be the case. Without breath, without more than an instinctual need to move, I step forward. My steps are sure though I can see little beyond the brilliant pinpricks of star dust above us. It shimmers in my eyes and lights my veins on fire. The only way to make it quiet is to step ever forward into the gentle riverine whispers before me. I must quiet the storm in my body.

Weeks ago now, I began dreaming about Osiris. I was not pleased upon waking from that first dream to find imagery of that green-faced man in my head. I complained and whined about it. This was my fault, though, if the dreams had even a modicum of truth. I had decided it would be a good idea to break into Big O’s palace with some foolish intent on finding TTR, one of the few people whom I would like to meet in the unseen. My plan backfired, of course, because I was caught breaking and entering. I spent a few days having a staring contest with Big O, which seemed to only cause me more consternation. What the fuck had dream-me even been thinking?

A few days afterward, he brought me into the bowels of his palace. We passed through a door and into a landscape that I feel I have described poorly. The starkness of that landscape causes chills up and down my body. Just remembering the black sand beach, the barren rocks, and the scrub grass in shades of charcoal, brings me back to that moment. Before the two of us was a single swath of water, quiet in the stillness of this place. While my poetic endeavors would have people believe that I willingly and quietly went forward into this moment, anyone who actually knows me will understand that I was neither.

I was actually pretty pissed and made my feelings on the matter quite clear. I chose this moment for brashness but that was mostly because of my fear. Of course, I had read about a similar scene playing out so I knew what was coming and I knew what the end result would probably be. I also knew that I could go into the water willingly or I would get tossed in with a little less ceremony, a lot more hilarity (not mine, of course), and a lot more anger and sputtering (mine, of course).

I chose to do what I had been brought there to do willingly, but that hardly means that I was pleased with the overall idea.

With probing fingers, the darkness pushes me ever forward. I feel as though there is no choice in the moment, as though my will has been robbed of me. In a matter of course, it has been, but I also know that it will always come down to this. Eternity is a long time to play this game of cat and mouse; I am too tired to keep playing. The whispers of that river call out into my soul, whipping the storms in my veins into a frenzy. I want to cry. I want to scream. I want to yell. I want to not drown again. My fear is all around me, beating at my body like a bird’s wings but its intent is nothing more than harm and horror. I relive the moments of my death, that painful frightening death, as the water sucks greedily at my toes and feet. I don’t want to die.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t die.

Sometimes breaking something, even though it seems like the worst thing in the world, can be to our benefit. It’s a matter of discovering that benefit later. (Image by Joanna Bourne.)

I went down deep and let the water quiet the wildness within my veins. It seems to poke and prod at every hidden portion of myself, not just my physical body but the metaphysical body that houses the pieces of my soul. Water can be both healing and destructive, but healing and destruction can go hand-in-hand. Though the touch of the water was gentle in a way that I can’t fully describe, the end result I have to admit is that I came out of there broken.

Broken-er?

More broken?

I went in with my ib relatively intact. It was taped up, glued up, shot to hell with the mistakes of its fixing covered in white-wash. But the truth of the matter is that it was a mess. It wasn’t anything to be proud of. The river’s focus was to point that out to me.

As I lay in that water for what felt like an eternity, I ended up realizing that it was removing bits and pieces that had been added from other portions of myself, pieces of myself that had to be removed, cleaned, and destroyed in order to heal it. The removal of those pieces left me fractured and raging. I had been trying to build a tower out of pieces that didn’t actually fit together without any instructions. And now, I was being informed that I had to start all over.

It seems rather unfair.

I crawl from that watery embrace, coughing out the destruction in spades. The fire within my veins, the storm within my soul has softened its touch; it is a tender rain upon my insides. I fall onto my face and cry for it all. The destruction that had raged within my body had been destroyed or at least quieted. I could feel the tender bits of my heart quaking as it felt for the first time in centuries. I roll over and stare up at the brilliance of diamonds in the sky, wondering if it is possible to join them now. Though death has not taken me and I am nowhere near ready to be changed into stardust and memory sparkle, I am too defeated to do more than breathe.

I’m left wondering if I had a map to all of this and I somehow left it in my other pants. Or if not a map, then maybe I could get some form of instructions on where I’m supposed to go with this progression. I’ve been informed, more than once, that Big O speaks in wing dings though. This particular moment seems to more than qualify for that. Even looking at others’ experiences with their personal rivers and looking to the bits and pieces that I know about Big O, I keep coming back to that moment when the fire in my blood stirred to a boil before the heat was lowered to a simmer. I can remember feeling it as it lessened until I was left cold, alone, and gasping for breath. Everything points to a moment of rebirth.

The cost of rebirth is pretty high and no one asked if I was willing to pay the toll. I should be a little used to this turn of events; I seem to rarely get asked if I’m willing to pay for what’s being done. The problem with rebirth is that it means a bit of you – large bits or small bits – have to die. Death is a part of living; living is a part of dying. What I always expected was that death was a little more black-and-white, even though I constantly go on about shades of gray and even though I know consciously that this perception isn’t true. I thought death was the finality, not the beginning of eternity. This was just another way to die, if only a little calmer and maybe a little more relaxing than other ways.

The thing is that even though I’ve paid parts of the debt that the process has demanded, I don’t know if I can finish the payment plan. I’m being asked to craft my ib from start to finish. The parts that were removed were for me benefit, for the good of the entirety of me. This is about bigger picture, but the bigger picture isn’t community, isn’t interpersonal deity relationships, isn’t friendships, isn’t romances, but is about me. I was important enough as I blazed a trail of fire and brimstone behind me to be stopped, to be taken aside, and to be forced to look at the fact that what I had been doing to craft a representative ib was insufficient. Now I have to build a new one from scratch, using tried and tested pieces that haven’t been destroyed by my own inability.

The thing is… these hands look awfully weak to undertake such a task.

My demise was granted yesterday, I have returned today, I have gone forth in my own shape; I am tousled…; I am disheveled, having gone forth…– excerpts from Spell 179, The Book of Going Forth by Day translated by R.O. Faulkner

I think that if I keep telling myself what the end game is, then maybe I’ll be able to get through it. I tell myself, “I want to shine and sparkle, I want to roar with my power, and I want everyone to know who I am and not the person that they think I am supposed to be.” But I have to admit that there are some serious side effects to dying, even if it is only a little death. I haven’t quite mastered the side effects and I honestly don’t know if I care to try. I keep trying to point out why this is important, why I need to get going, and why it’s something that I need to do, but I’ll be honest: the gray cloud of my existence is kind of addicting. I’m not sure if I really want to remove myself from it at all.

But the real problem, the larger issue out of all of this is that I just don’t know how to build the ib, the soul, the person into reality and not the ephemeral dreams of smoke and mirrors. Without instructions or an idea, I don’t know if it’s even worth starting all that hard work.

Kemetic Round Table: But Why?

As a kid, I attended a Methodist church and I can remember sitting beside my mother during the [boring] sermon on more than a handful of occasions. If I wasn’t busy trying to play hang man by myself or staring up at the architecture (it was that church, to be honest, that made me appreciate Gothic architecture as that was what it was modeled after when built), I was so busy trying to figure out what was so special about the person in the pulpit that gave them the ability to shepherd my soul and my faith onto its path to redeem the inherent sinner that I, as a Methodist, clearly was.

I got that the person in question went to specialty school and had been indoctrinated in all the things that were required in order to perform rituals and services under the teachings and dogma of the Methodist church. And I understood that the role of that minister was to take my hand (so to speak) and guide me on my path in my relationship with Jesus, the Holy Ghost, and God. But I couldn’t really figure out why I needed that person over there, pulpit or not, ritual officiant or not, to guide me. I constantly had to ask myself, but why?

While sitting at the front of the church with the other acolytes, admiring the really ornate altar that I got to light and put out the candles for, I still wondered. I went to Sunday school and when I wasn’t dawdling on my millionth bathroom break back into church, I was always trying to figure out why there had to any person between me and my relationship with God. Didn’t I have the ability to pray just as well as the priest? Was there something in the induction from any ole human to priest type human that made their prayers, on my behalf, that much more clear? Or was it all just a bunch of hype?

It doesn’t matter what answers, if any, that I may have come up with. I’ll be honest, I can’t think of any damn things that I came up with to explain why the person in the pulpit, who wore the garments ascribed to our sect, had the right and the wherewithal to shepherd my soul. I kept coming back down to the fundamental question of: but why? Maybe that makes me a bit of a troublemaker or maybe I missed something in Sunday school that I should have paid attention to. Whatever the case may be, I had nothing but the ongoing ramble of but why why why why why? in my head enough times to seriously side eye the whole fucking concept.

Frankly, changing my faith from monotheistic to polytheistic hasn’t really stopped the whole, but why?

I started looking up things about the ancient Egyptian priesthood a few years ago when I got a card reading that was kind of like, “hahaha, you’re going to be a priest!” And I just about flipped my shit and sulked about it for a while. I knew a sum total of this about the priesthood in ancient Egypt: (a) they were everywhere, (b) they got up really early, (c) there was some ritual purity standards or something, and (d) they stood in for the pharaoh for everything who was the Big Cheese as far as the religion was concerned. So, realizing that if this was going to end up happening, I decided I should look a little further beyond what I knew.

And I found out a lot things about the priesthood and none of them were even remotely what I had come to believe a priest was for. I was coming at this point-of-view, of course, from the Christian faith I was raised in. I was informed that the minister was supposed to be a sort of intermediary of sorts between myself and my relationship to God. The minister officiated at really important rituals like baptism, marriage, and communion. These are things that they did for the parishioners. Again, in my limited information regarding what I had figured out over the years, it was this shepherd thing (something hearkening back to Jesus’ image of the Good Shepherd, iirc) that the priests and ministers and whatnot were supposed to do.

That was so not even the case in ancient Egypt.

The entire point in the priesthood in ancient Egypt was to serve the gods in whatever capacity that particular priest had been hired for (or bribed to get the position for). There were numerous priests within the priesthood hierarchy – not just one guy at the top of a pulpit, preaching on about whatever the case may be. The priests who maintained the temples and completed the rituals did so on behalf of the gods that the temples were for and to maintain ma’at by providing for those gods – not to shepherd the laity on their bumbling path with their faith and offer them spiritual guidance on how to proceed. While they did complete things on behalf of the laity, such as writing things, providing healing, and/or interpreting dreams, this was only if the person had paid for those services. As far as I could discern, it seemed like how the temples’ functionaries (the priests) worked with the laity was minimal.

Another thing to consider was that since the duties of the priests were twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, there were no breaks. They did not stop and take a week vacation from their job. They had four months of doing the job and then they were off the rotation to do whatever it was their personal lives required of them. But when they were in rotation, the outside world was immaterial to the duties that they had to perform on behalf of the temple and the gods. The priests I grew up with only were around for Sunday services and the Methodist specific rituals, which in my experience tended to take place on Sundays.

Even remotely looking at the ancient Egyptian priesthood with the perspective of someone born and raised within the Methodist church was hard to handle. It was like two polar opposites had crashed head-on in my brain and I honestly couldn’t even begin to reconcile it. And that was kind of when I realized that viewing the priesthood from a Christian heavy perspective was probably not a good idea.

So, I tried to view it from a modern-day Kemetic perspective and had to admit that the nagging question come back in spades: but why?

In order for a priesthood to exist in any context akin to what had been established in antiquity, there would have to be an established temple. And frankly, I haven’t joined any of the established temples because I don’t want a theocracy regarding my religion, which would need to be the case in order for it to bear any resemblance to antiquity. I don’t want someone from on high – like the people in the pulpit – to tell me what my function was. I wouldn’t want someone to give me a position, which I may not feel suited my abilities or my personal desires for what I wanted my personal relationship with my gods to look like, and have to turn it into, well, a job. That seems like such a terrible idea on so many different levels.

If I remove the idea of an established temple and all of the possible hazards and pitfalls that could occur with an established temple, I have to admit that the nagging question of but why comes up louder and louder. If there is no temple, why in the world would a priesthood be needed? I mean, after all, isn’t that what most of the solitaries are doing?

Think about it:

They’re maintaining their relationships with the gods, seeing that the gods are pleased with offerings and any rituals they feel like doing, and doing their damned best to both live in and maintain ma’at. From that perspective, it kind of looks like those of us who fall under the “solitary Kemetic” persuasion may already be what the ancient Egyptian priesthood was… without all of the in-fighting, politics, full-time work, and bribery.

If looked in that particular way, then technically, all of us are our own priests… so then what’s all the hype about?

How often do I see people going on about priesthood like it’s the top echelon of super religious achievement? I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen people just spout on and on about how great the whole idea of a priesthood totally would be if only we could do X, Y, Z. Well, I hate to break it to all the “ra ra priest” cheerleaders out there, but it’s kind of already in existence from a solitary perspective. And many of us don’t even want to look at the fucking word priest, much less, use it in any context to describe what we’re going. The word has some serious baggage; it’s a dirty word; it’s blown up and blown out of proportion; and did I mention the baggage?

To be perfectly frank, I’m kind of tired of people looking at the whole priesthood thing like it’s something that we should all strive for. Let’s not forget that the priesthood of antiquity was a hierarchy from scribes to prophets, from high priests to cooks in the kitchen. By stating that “priesthood” is the be-all, end-all, we are definitively stating that we need to create strata within our community. And by so doing, we could quite easily make it seem like there is a clique for the haves and an exclusionary circle around the have nots, which should not be the case for a religion that is as community centric as ours. Besides, we see how destructive such things can be within the wider Tumblr pagan community – the constant battle cry of “speshul snowflake” – so why the fuck are we going to invite the conflagration to our party before we really have gotten our feet under us?

I think the more important thing is focusing on the personal path that we are all walking on and how it relates to us as human beings and how it relates to the gods to whom we cultivate these relationships for. Priesthood was a many splendored pain in the ass in antiquity from what I’ve read and frankly, I don’t want to be associated with it… even though I am, for all intents and purposes, doing precisely what the ancient priests did in my position… only without the conniving and bribing of other people (I’ll totally bribe and connive with my gods though).

I truly believe that people who push this idea that priesthood should be or will be the highest point that one can aim for on their path is detrimental to the fomenting of the individual paths we all walk down. I think that it leaves a lot of people feeling inadequate, people who may be frightened of the term priest or who may look askance and distrustful of the terminology priesthood. The focus on a religion that is so widespread and predominantly made up of solitary practitioners should be less on something that requires a temple to work properly and should be more focused on boat paddling, community, and what each individual needs from both in order to establish themselves on their path.

So if the whole point in the ancient Egyptian priesthood was to do what each modern person building a personal relationship with their gods is already doing (in whatever context that particular relationship requires or ends up becoming), then I go right back to point A, which is the question, but why?

Maybe if there was a temple that had more of a “it’s okay to be laity” point-of-view and less of a “the priesthood are super awesome” mentality, I could answer that question. In the mean time, I shy away from the word even if I really am doing the job of a priest and I continue to think that at this stage, modern priesthood really just isn’t important.

Further Reading

  1. TTR’s WP Clergy Tag
  2. TTR’s Tumblr Priesthood Tag

Sekhmet-Min.

Typically, when it comes to Sekhmet, there isn’t too much discussion going on. It’s not that people don’t want to discuss her, but I think that since there doesn’t seem to be much mythology outside of the Destruction of Mankind myth, people don’t seem interested in engaging. This upsets me a bit because I have a lot of thoughts regarding Sekhmet (of course) and I want to talk about it. I have a project planned for this year about her various aspects that I’ve come into contact with, but before I get started on that, I think I need to talk about the syncretism of Sekhmet-Min.

Now, anyone who hasn’t been following me on Tumblr or seen my comments about it on my personal Facebook may not be aware of this. And that actually makes sense because it doesn’t seem as though this particular syncretism bares more than a footnote or three in the books. Another reason it’s not so common knowledge is because there appears to be a large debate within the Egyptological community with regard to whether a Sekhmet and Min syncretism even existed.

Let me give you some background before I start talking about how I see and feel regarding this.

This all started, actually, when I found this post and was like, “what the hell is this?” The Tumblr user, intaier, posted another version of this image and tagged me in it so I could see the image more clearly as the original post had cropped out something important: the phallus. I took to Google, of course, to try and figure out what was happening because I couldn’t understand the lack of second arm and I had never seen Sekhmet with a phallus before. It was through Devo and another Tumblr user that I was made aware that imagery depicted thus is usually related to Min in some way. And of course, I found multiple images on Flickr which named this image as “Sekhmet-Min.”

I was completely floored. I had never heard of this syncretism before and I wanted to know more. Google searches for “Sekhmet-Min” came up with nothing besides those Flickr accounts, though. In my off time, I began looking for “ithyphallic Sekhmet.” I found two blog posts on LJ (here and here), which seemed to indicate the images were Mut. However, I found a few books through Google that mention ithyphallic Sekhmet. I decided to leave it alone for a while so I could mull this all over.

I also looked briefly into Min and found this quote: “While earlier generations of scholars inferred from Min’s erect penis that his principal function was fertility, it has recently been argued that Min’s upraised arm and erect penis are, in fact, both manifestations of his protective function, a form of display known as ‘phallic intimidation’ (Ogdon 1985).” All very interesting but I didn’t have anything definitive. While I mulled on it, I began to recognize that it would make a certain kind of sense for Sekhmet to have been syncretized with Min. But I left it at that because I didn’t really understand why it seemed “right” to me to have this syncretism.

A few days later, intaier posted this image where she clearly designates it as Mut. I came back and was like, “No, no. This was the Sekhmet-Min we talked about a few days ago.” And since then, things have rather degenerated. I wouldn’t call it a debate or anything because it’s not actually a debate.

However, people have weighed in with their opinions that the Egyptologists know what they’re talking about so if they call the image Mut, then so be it. I came back with evidence of Egyptologists who had named the syncretism as Sekhmet-Min. Based on my brief Twitter back and forth with Tamara (of KO fame), it would seem that there is no popular consensus within the Egyptological community on the status of these ithyphallic leonine deities. I left it alone until I was tagged again in another picture of the ithyphallic leonine deity, which seemed to indicate (again) that this was a “unique” representation of Mut (based on a quote from Te Velde in Mut and Other Ancient Egyptian Goddesses that intaier provided).

By this time, I was kind of tired of the conversation. I will admit that I am still very tired of the conversation, but I feel the need to put everything in a single place.

And Egyptologists like Budge used to think this way… and look where they’ve ended up.

It feels to me that we’re getting stuck on the prospect that this ithyphallic image is Mut because a bunch of people who may be wrong (because let’s face it, there’s always the possibility of discovering something new that will force Egyptologists to reevaluate their knowledge) said so. And while I definitely tell people that those sources are pretty fucking good to have, I also don’t want us to get stuck in a particular mindset when there is still, clearly, a lot of things that we simply don’t know.

To be perfectly frank, I honestly feel like my thoughts on the subject are being completely ignored in the face of statements made by Egyptologists. I think we’re falling into some mistaken belief that what the Egyptologists say on any given matter is holy writ and that’s something that we definitely need to steer clear from, especially as it pertains to our personal relationships with the gods. “But, Sat,” someone will say, “that’s blasphemy to the historically informed!”

But is it?

How many times have either I or TTR gone off about how Budge should not be used or cited as a resource? His translations have been proved to be inaccurate; he wrote entirely through the lens of a conservative Protestantism in order to garner more funds; he ignored his German contemporaries’ advances in the field; etc. As a resource, he is persona non grata.

Egyptology has come a long way, but there are still issues within the Egyptological community. While reading the problematically titled book, Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts, Jeremy Naydler highlights many of these issues. For the most part, the author goes on and on for many, many pages about how the Egyptological community seems hell-bent on maintaining the belief that the ancient Egyptians were a “practical” people, denying any possibility of mysticism within their religious realm, in a seeming need to distance themselves as much as humanly possible from the poor pseudoscience that infiltrated Egyptological circles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

All well and good – let’s absolutely distance ourselves from malarkey. But from a Kemetic standpoint, this leaves the resources we value so highly devoid of feeling and devoid of what I would like to see: a representation of my religion as it was when it was lived and breathed in its heyday.

But let’s look at this argument as logically as possible.

Let’s start off with the two images’ locations (I’m sorry, but I cannot find the image from the Hibis Temple so I cannot, in all honesty say, how closely related the images are).

Ramsses III censing before a form of Sekhmet-Min

“Image by Hannah Pethen, via Flickr”

The first image we have is the unnamed deity in the Temple of Khonsu at Karnak. Based on my research, this image appears to have been commissioned for Ramesses IV during the New Kingdom. (Based off of this website; translation will be needed.) This would lead me to suspect that the imagery used is Mut, who rose to prominence as the consort of Amun-Re at the spiritual capital of the country, Thebes, during this time period. The fact that the image is found in a temple dedicated to Khonsu, the son of Mut and her consort, Amun-Re, would also lead anyone worth their weight to believe that this is Mut.

However, it is during this period that we see Mut absorbing and usurping aspects of well-known and well-established leonine deities, specifically in this case, Sekhmet. The syncretism makes a lot of sense from various different points of view, but to look at it based on these quotes I think will better assist us here.

The first quote discusses how it was the first name in the syncretism that provided the deity with a physical form to inhabit but it was the secondary name that indicates who the deity actually is supposed to be. The second quote discusses how the gods had limitations and, in order to breach those limitations, syncretism was necessary. Looking at these statements together with regarding to the syncretism of Sekhmet-Mut, we see that the bodily form is that of Sekhmet, I.E. a lioness, where it is the motherly aspect of Mut that provides the power.

The reason I mention this is because prior to Mut’s syncretism of Sekhmet, her bodily form was that of a human woman wearing the double crown and/or the vulture headdress. We see many images of Mut in this way, but it is only when she comes into contact with Sekhmet (and Bast, evidently, according to my research) that we see her as a lioness. This particularly syncretism seems to have been of particular importance during the time that the Khonsu temple image was commissioned…

And that leads me to suspect that it may not specifically be Sekhmet who is syncretized with Min here, but it is a sort of conglomerate Sekhmet-Mut mixed with Min. Taking the leonine features of the face mixed with the bodily form of Min, we have two deities known for protective functions (“…it has recently been argued that Min’s upraised arm and erect penis are, in fact, both manifestations of his protective function…” as quoted fully above) merged into a unified composite. If we add Mut into the mix here, it’s only to denote that she has protective features and as the mother of Khonsu… who has every right to be in a temple dedicated to her son.

But again, in looking at the image, I don’t see anything that would herald that this is Mut in any way. Just because the two had a syncretism doesn’t necessarily negate the fact that Sekhmet may have become of import within the temple precincts in her own right. Based on my understanding of syncretism as indicated by the two quotes linked to above, I have to wonder if we’re missing integral information (clearly, we are) regarding this syncretism and how Sekhmet came to play a role within the cult worship of Mut.

Now let’s look at the Hibis Temple. This temple was built in the Late Period by the Persian pharaohs. By this time, the flower of the religious institutions that we see so well in the earlier periods had reached heyday status. Based on my brief look into this temple, it was built for the purpose of honoring the Theban Triad. This would explain why the ithyphallic leonine deity is clearly designated as Mut-A’at or Mut the Great.

However, this doesn’t actually negate the possibility that this image is, as with my thoughts on the Karnak temple above, Sekhmet. As Pinch states in Egyptian Mythology: “From the New Kingdom onward, Sekhmet was mainly thought of as the aggressive aspect of greater goddesses: first of Hathor, then of Mut, and finally of Isis.” (Bolding mine.) My point being that Sekhmet had stopped, in a manner of speaking, being a goddess in her own right and was seen as merely a part of –insert goddess here–. (What a terrible idea!)

While I don’t know what functions she may have served in her own right by that point, this only seems to indicate that the leonine deities seen at both the Khonsu Temple and the Hibis Temple are, in fact, linked (heavily) to Sekhmet. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any images available online of the ithyphallic deity known as Mut-A’at, but if it bears any resemblance to the image at Karnak, then I have to assert that – as based on my arguments above regarding syncretism and how I see it – that, named otherwise or not at all, this is Sekhmet-Min.

Seeing that my opinion on the subject has been ignored and any points I may have made also have been ignored, I’m going to finish this off with a few further thoughts.

My issue with the ongoing “debate” is that it takes away from the point behind the images. Syncretism is all about inferring powers from one deity to another, a deity who does not have the abilities they require in order to complete a function. Sekhmet is a powerful and protective deity, but Min’s associations seem primarily with regard to fertility… or at least, some of his functions are about that. If we are basing this syncretism on the idea of fertility and creation, then I think it means that Sekhmet, and therefore Mut, had self-creation aspects that we need to look into.

It was this aspect that Ramesses IV was incensing and libating on the Karnak wall. It wasn’t Sekhmet by herself. It wasn’t Mut by herself. It was an ithyphallic representation of Sekhmet (and therefore, Mut, as based on the wonkiness of syncretism especially from that time period) that he was standing before. It was something about this syncretism that he felt the need to honor. Why? What is it about this particular syncretism that required that it be placed on the temple wall? Was it because he wanted to be able to self-create and was hoping that they would give him this ability? Was it just to make people, down the road, question what the fuck is happening in this scene? Was it some ancient scribe’s joke to the modern world, “haha, fuckers; good luck figuring out what this is about” and we’re all taken in by it?

These are the questions that we need to ask ourselves as devotees of Sekhmet. Why in the fuck did this representation end up on the wall? But more importantly, how does it impact us? We should stop worrying in some respects about what the scholars say and worry more about what our religion tells us. I fully plan on exploring how this impacts me and my relationship with Sekhmet (if at all) in the future and I invited everyone who has a relationship with her to do the same.

Lent 2015.

With Lent on the horizon, I couldn’t help but turn my thoughts to the lwa who had left me without much farewell last year. Oh, there was a bit of a farewell between Papa Legba and I, but the rest of the bunch just kind of disappeared without so much as a wave or by-your-leave. I was angry at the way that everything ended. I guess I’m just so used to beginning, middle, and emphatic ending that no final words of farewell kind of ground on me.

As my thoughts began turning towards Papa Legba, I did a bit of soul-searching. I was really angry when he left. I felt as if I had been, yet again, cast adrift on a sea of torment. He had caught my little dingy in his hands and taught me how to weather the constant storms within that sea. He had told me stories and jokes; he had given me a new appreciate of things that I took for granted, but above all else, he held my hand when I most needed it.

When he left, I was completely miserable. Papa Legba showed up because Sekhmet was at her wit’s end and needed me to be taught a few things about servitude and to get a few other lessons out of the way. I knew this; so why had I been so hurt when he left? I had always thought, somewhere, that with the end of the lessons, he would remain. I thought that he would just always be there. Change to me is something that I have been going through so much in the last two years that I’ve just wanted one thing that remained the same. And I found a good thing, I think, with Papa Legba.

Sometimes, I would dream of the two of us in a garden or in the forest. He was always making something grow. He’s very good at getting things to grow, as I’ve found out. What I didn’t seem to realize until only just recently that each change in the scenery, the overall goal was the same: he was creating a garden and needed to nurture it. We talked a lot about the nature of what nurturing a garden was like and how that relates back to the nurturing one must do for themselves. He told me jokes and he told me stories. He said to me last night that it’s time for me to go back to where I belong; the lesson is over. And it was a lesson and a half. He wasn’t just giving me a way out of the really oppressive atmosphere I was in, but he was also helping me to grow, my core, my soul, and everything in between. He was busy nurturing the fledgling plants and the older plants that had been accidentally pinched out when I became so angry and so embittered.

I’ve been staring at this quote since Ash Wednesday. I went looking through my old entries about Lent and found this sitting there. I found this recreated a second time when I came to the realization that the lwa had truly gone. He had bid me a brief goodbye during Lent of last year, but I had still just believed that he would continue to nurture the garden that I am. I wasn’t taking into context what he was doing or what his plans were; I was only thinking about myself.

I think, though, a certain selfishness is appropriate. I had died in every metaphorical way during our relationship’s tenure and he had always been there to help me pick up the pieces. He found me in all of my inner hiding places and pulled me into the light of the day. It was hard and painful, I think, last year because I didn’t have that person who would force me to look at what I needed to in order to figure out where the chess pieces were on the board.

I still don’t have that. I have a new little filler, to a degree, but Heru-Wer is not Papa Legba. They have a certain obsession about gardening in common and they have both used garden metaphors to get me to latch on to something. But as Heru-Wer told me when we first started being friends, he was not in my life to fill the hole that Papa Legba had created but to create a Heru-Wer sized niche instead.

The niche has been created, but I’ve discovered that the hole in the shape of Papa Legba has cleared up. As I poked around in my ib the last few days, I found that the sore spot that had his name scrawled across it didn’t hurt nearly as much. I continued the poking and prodding with other things, gauging the reactions that I discovered as I worked around what had once been as sharp of a pain as I could fathom. Now, though, it is nothing but a spot that has been scabbed over and healed up… and it seems to have healed up properly.

That’s a relief; I’m kind of tired of hurts healing wrong.

With this year, I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t need to pay any attention to Lent or to sacrifice. I had kind of figured that Lent was over with, just as much as my relationship with Papa Legba. But on Ash Wednesday, one of my coworkers asked me with devilish delight, “What have you given up for Lent this year?” I hadn’t, actually, thought about it at all because I was over the hump, wasn’t I? Did I really need to sacrifice anything?

Evidently, my mouth and my mind were on two different wavelengths because what I said immediately was, “Diet Coke.”

It just popped out there.

And now it was out there.

In the world.

Being all thought about and digested.

“Oh, no,” my coworker said to me, “this is going to be terrible.” I don’t believe I was that grouchy without diet Coke last year (although the amount of posts I made about diet Coke on Tumblr would lead me to believe that I was fairly crotchety). The rumor mill ground around the office, which isn’t much of a rumor mill because we have an instant messaging program always running between the 10 of us, and everyone knew I had given up diet Coke.

Again.

I’ve thought about the reason behind this. Why did I say this before I could explain that I wasn’t observing Lent this year? I don’t want to be trite here, but I can’t help but think that there is something purposeful here. On religious matters, I try to be very careful and concise with my speech especially when speaking on them to people who don’t know the intricate woven threads of my path. But in this case, the words were out of my mouth before I could even think to myself, the fuck is wrong with you?

A part of me believes that it’s just an automatic pilot thing. Another part of me believes that this is more than just autopilot.

Out of everything I could sacrifice, there is nothing more significant than diet Coke to me. As some people have mentioned, it’s practically my life’s blood. Fuck, I drink a hell of a lot of soda every fucking day and it’s always diet Coke. (Once in a blue moon, I will have a Sunkist.) And so my automatic pilot mouth went to the first and most painful thing I could sacrifice, something that would hit me right between the eyes about twenty fucking times a day.

Last year, I sacrificed diet Coke because it was the only thing that I could think of that would fall under the category of a true sacrifice. This year, I sacrificed diet Coke without having a reason. This should prove interesting.

Kemetic Round Table: Here Be Dragons

Subtitle: The Dragons are Really Crack

I think part of the reason I chose the “spiritual turnpike” for the name of this blog, and my path to be honest, is because I was hoping that there was a map. The only thing was that I had to find the map. No problem, though – I would search everywhere and eventually, the map would appear when I was ready. I think I expected this map to have very clear instructions on where my relationship with my gods and, more specifically, my relationship with Sekhmet was going to eventually end up. It would be a nice clean environment; it would be full of unicorn farts and glitter; and there would definitely be peanut butter cups and heart eyes. What I learned instead is that there is no map; there is absolutely no fucking anything to help guide you into unexplored territories. If I did have a map, I would probably be mired in the sections labeled “here be dragons.”

I’ve been mired so long in this place with the dragons that I’m beginning to suspect that this is normal [for me]. Since I was obviously going to be hanging around with these dragons for a fair length of time, I had to go looking for ways to overcome them. To borrow from fairy tales a bit here, the knight always goes out to kill the dragon so that he can rescue the princess. It occurred to me, though, that this was probably not the best mindset to have if I was going to (A) continue to encounter dragons and (B) it seemed to me to be a rather a dick move [against the dragons]. Instead of looking for ways to successfully beat them, I began looking for ways so that we could coexist. For the most part, I think I’ve been successful – I have my moments, of course; I think everyone does when things come out of nowhere. I think my dragons and I, while maybe not the best of friends, we at least don’t try to eat each other.

The gods began throwing me for a loop when they introduced me to dragon the first. We’ll call her Astral Dragon. She was glittery and frilly and had blue whiskers. I ignored her for a long time. It was easy enough, at first, because she was a baby dragon. She had cute little wings and didn’t breathe anything like flames or ice at me. She just sat on top of my head and periodically picked a little hole until I had a nice, steady fissure for her to stream woo in my direction. I was able to write that off, too, because I couldn’t recreate it, ergo it did not exist. My first response (as you’ll see) is to ignore something. I ignored Astral Dragon, as adorable as she must have been as a baby dragon, until she grew so large that I couldn’t breathe under the weight of her. I began paying a bit better attention then.

I started off by researching what was happening and networking with people who had advised that they experienced similar happenings. This helped me get over the idea that I was all alone in a cruel world, surrounded by weirdness that only I went through. I will admit here that I was lucky: there were resources for people like me. I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for the first person who began having Astral Shenanigans pop up and into their brains. So, I looked around and found that I wasn’t alone. I didn’t actively encourage Astral Dragon; she just kind of threw some more at me whenever she felt the need arose. And thus, I was introduced to woo.

I don’t think I have a very positive relationship with the woo and I have to say that may be par for the course. I get bitter. I get angry. I get irritated. I get frustrated. There is a lot of unexplored territory especially within the Kemetic community. And since most of the woo tends to happen within a Kemetic context (not all of it has, but much of it has), there are still limited resources available. It can be very irritating to have to map out areas of the Duat on your own because you just want to confirm something that you dreamed about… only to have it confirmed in a book and getting thrown for a loop all over again. I have a lot of moments where I doubt entirely what’s happened to me either because I haven’t found a correlation within a dry resource book written for Egyptologists or because it’s just too much to take in all at once and there’s no fucking way this is really fucking happening. Give me proof or give me doubt; so I doubt instead.

The thing is that Astral Dragon brought a friend. This friend was red and flame-ridden and he had gray whiskers, puffs of smoke streaming from both nostrils, and a ferocious bite. We’ll call him Initiation Dragon. He showed up after a while and began leading me in a direction that can only be described as initiation. On this, I fought very hard against it because no fucking way. He and I got into a lot of fights and I spent a lot of my time in a dull funk about the whole experience. It was almost like because I had found a decent groove where I had been able to work closely with Astral Dragon, she had to up the ante by bringing a friend along. That seemed like some bullshit right there. But after enough kicking and screaming, I began going through what I had to go through.

About a year ago, I died. It was while I was in the middle of this painful death (just because you aren’t dying in this realm doesn’t make it any less painful, bee tee dubs) that I began looking into what the fuck I was experiencing. I needed some form of frame of reference. This is when I came upon the word “initiation,” which had been cropping up in circles a little too frequently for the six months or so prior to my astral death. The really big problem was that in the grand scheme of Kemeticism, there isn’t much initiation talk outside of Kemetic Orthodoxy. I have found a little bit of information, which seems to work with what I went through, but it doesn’t fully explain it. I had to start looking elsewhere for more information.

Outside of that, I have found next to nothing regarding initiation. So, it didn’t really make a lot of sense to me. I had to look elsewhere for my answers. And while I found them, I have to admit that the subject matter is pretty problematic because it relates to shamanism… yeah, that’s right, the culturally appropriative word that anthropologists use to designate people with other. So, I went looking and found a lot of parallels with my path and what I had just gone through. It got worse because death was actually a beginning –this was all building to “bigger and better things” (the quotes are fucking air quotes and yes, they are sarcastic). I will admit that it was kind of nice to find something like what I was experiencing even if anthropologists are pieces of shit that steal words and then use it to encompass a way of life that is probably better described as KEY SMASHING.

I know for a fact that I don’t have a very positive relationship with this particular brand of the woo. Again, I think it’s probably normal to go through an experience of this magnitude, which fundamentally changes you on a level that you can’t even fathom, and be a little frustrated and embittered by the entire experience. What makes this worse is that there is no way to map anything out here. It’s one thing to find confirmation of your UPG in a book, but quite another when you’re flying solo and blind on a mad dragon, doing barrel rolls in the air to see if you fall off.

As if Astral Dragon and Initiation Dragon weren’t hard enough to handle, I ended up accidentally bringing home yet another dragon. And this was completely accidental – I didn’t go seeking this on purpose, looking for this particular dragon. We’ll call this particular one Hmmphmm Dragon. This dragon has aqua and lavender swirls up and down its side with a white beard, pink google eyes, and a lopsided grin. I think most people can infer what the hmmphmm is a metaphor for. For those who haven’t caught on, it means sex. That’s right, folks; I have a relationship with a deity – consensual – that would best fall under the category of “god sex.” It is not a romantic relationship. It is not a marriage. There is no oath involved. It is a relationship between a devotee and their god that has sexual overtones periodically. Talk about totally off the fucking map, right?

I’ll tell you what – there is absolutely nothing I can do as far as looking for information on how to handle this. The deity relationships that include sexy times tend to fall within the godspouse dynamic (not saying all by any stretch just that many do) and most of those relationships are not within a Kemetic background. I think I can count on one hand how many people who have admitted, in private, that their relationships fall within this particular paradigm in the Kemetic community. And I think I have only spoken with two Kemetics who have stated that they have god sex. And that’s great – I have a tiny niche that I can reach out to if I need advice. But that doesn’t help in the long run or the fact that I don’t really know what the fuck I’m doing or how this happened to me. What happened to having a nice normal practice?

I don’t have a good way to handle any of this. There are a lot of reasons for it, but at the core of this is that I’m ace, remember? It can be really difficult to handle the fact that one facet of my person is not ace while the rest of me, right now, really fucking is. How do I handle waking up from sexy times with a god? I get crotchety and bitchy; I get frustrated enough to the point where I want to fucking break everything around me. I get snotty and depressed. I deny everything going on as some kind of sick fucking subconscious fantasy. Sometimes, it’s easier to deny it all than to figure out a way to handle the fact that super ace me has a part of her who isn’t so super ace.

Another problem is that, at least with Astral Dragon and Initiation Dragon, I have some resources. I don’t have that for Hmmphmm Dragon. I want books that I can read. I want an Egyptologist to write about how the ancients had sex with their gods, either under the influence of mind altering substances or not. I want them to explain to me what the hell is happening, why it is happening, and to give me sources from antiquity. The thing is that I can’t get this information. It’s either not available or this is a new metamorphosis from the gods or the ancients just never bothered to mention it (always possible) or the resources that do discuss it are completely lost to us. Whatever the case may be, I’m wandering around with Hmmphmm Dragon completely at a loss of what I’m doing or how I wound up here.

This is me at any given moment of the day.

This is me at any given moment of the day.

Looking back at all of that, I think I could have probably handled any of these experiences with a lot more grace and aplomb. The thing is that I am so completely out of my depth that I don’t know how to handle any of this with either of those things. All I have done and continue to do is cry (and I have… a lot) and whine about it, hoping that I haven’t completely made shit up. I have spent a lot of time, hoping that someone would tell me that they had seen it in a dream or that they had tangible evidence that what I have been going through is legitimate. The problem with craving legitimacy here is that none of these dragons can really provide that to me. I don’t think anyone really can provide me with that and even if they could, I don’t know if I would believe them. It’s a vicious circle when things go off the map – your lines in the sand are constantly getting moved back and no matter what it comes down to, you will always have those moments where you just deny everything.

My religious life has long since wandered off the carefully mapped out section of what I thought it was going to be. Honestly, if I sit down with Five Years Younger Me, I would have said that my religious life would have been fulfilling, happy, exciting, making and/or had made me into a better person, and all about the laity: what that means, how that works, and being an “unexceptional, not speshul snowflake.” That is what the person I was five years ago would have said.

What I can say now is that my path is definitely making me into a better person. It definitely falls under the broad definition of “exciting.” But more often than not, it can be frightening and worrisome, with strategic stops at “bitter,” “irritated,” “confused,” and “angry.” I was knocked for a loop a few years back and I’ve been kind of reeling from it all ever since. That is why, in my opinion, a map would be fucking useful right about now.

Sekhmet: So Much More Than Meets the Eye.

Sekhmet! More than meets the eye!
She wages her battles to destroy the evil forces of isfet!
Sekhmet! Lioness in disguise!
Sekhmet! More than meets the eye!
Sekhmet!

– A modern day hymn as ripped off from based off of the Transformers theme song

When I look back on my early days with Sekhmet, those days when I was very frightened and I had people telling me to stay away from her, I look back now rather fondly. Even though I understand the reason behind why people told me to stay away from her and even though those first few steps towards Sekhmet were some of the biggest and most frightening steps I had ever taken up to that point, I have to admit that I made the right choice.

Sometimes, I sit around and try to see what my life would be like without her… if I had ignored that call all those years ago, and I have to admit that what I think my life would be like is paltry at best and a fog of unending torment at worse. With my entering into this realm with Sekhmet’s open arms ahead of me, I’ve become maybe not the best person I could but I’ve become a pretty damn awesome human being.

As is the case with probably a lot of the netjeru, I’ve noticed this sort of trend that comes and goes in spurts. People seem to get stuck in this particular mindset about Sekhmet and I’ve realized how much it frustrates me, especially now that I’ve begun to actively explore her other aspects and facets. It’s almost as if people can’t even begin to fathom that Sekhmet is an individual with individual wants and desires, hopes and dreams, feelings and regrets. I don’t know if that’s always true of course, but as someone who has begun exploring all the various realms that Sekhmet ends up, I have to say that it appears that way.

Lately, I’ve seen people say things like, “it’s such a hard time working with Sekhmet because she makes me want to kill people” or “I’m such a destroying motherfucker that my spirit guide must be Sekhmet” or “I’m going to burn down everything around me just like Sekhmet did, LOL.”

This mindset really frustrates me as a devotee of Sekhmet and as someone who actively seeks out those other parts of Sekhmet’s soul, those parts that hardly ever get talked about in public. I also think this mindset is incredibly problematic. Let’s talk about that, shall we? (As if you had a choice.)

  1. Tell Me Things Because I Don’t Know How To Research.

I think a lot of people want to be spoon fed and to an extent that’s actually not much of a problem (thus why resource lists are so great). I fully remember how daunting this whole historically informed path was all those years ago and I often felt like I was completely out of my depth when discussing anything with people who had been doing this a while. I often found myself freaking out because they had access to things that I did not or because they seemed to understand the texts that we all had read far better than I. They were able to discern the information out there on the Internet – separate the wheat from the chaff – and that made me feel very insecure and very, very incapable in my devotion to Sekhmet.

I know I spent a lot of my first few years doing this reading and re-reading the same type of things over and over again with regard to Sekhmet. I wanted to understand what it was that I was seeing from those who had been doing this a while and because I wanted them to tell me what I needed to know. I felt disparaged at the thought of all of the resources that I couldn’t fully understand (because let’s face it, a lot of the academic resources out there are not written for the layperson) and all of the resources I wouldn’t be able to get my hands on because they were in other languages. I wanted someone to take me by the hand and explain it to me.

Now that I’ve been at this a while, I’ve found a groove with resources. I’ve been able to better to toss aside the chaff and focus on the wheat. And while I will admit to still feeling upset that there are places I will not be able to go unless someone translates French and/or German texts for me, I would like to think that I’ve finally gotten a good foothold on what I’ve read. And I try very hard, remembering the fear and worry and anger and hopelessness, to explain to people who are new and who may not be aware that Sekhmet is more than a deity of destruction.

However, you can only say the same things so many times before you finally get to the point where frustration takes over. As someone who only minutely associates with the boat paddling phenomena, I probably get far more easily frustrated than those who have been doing the community building longer and more thoroughly than I have.

And that frustration leads me on to point number 2…

  1. Pigeonholing Makes Things Easier for Me

Quite often, I remind people that Sekhmet is more than just a destructive deity. That little check box next to the word destruction? It isn’t the only one that’s been checked, but it seems to be the most often cited. I truly believe that a large part of this, beyond newbie ignorance, is because human beings tend to pigeonhole. It’s almost as if we must always attempt to qualify something within a very strict rubric, which oft-times doesn’t do anyone or anything a damn bit of good.

Let’s be real here: in this day and age, pigeonholing should be jettisoned into space and burned upon reentry into some planets atmosphere. In a day and age where we’re beginning to realize that being uptight about everything and the requirement to shove everything into an “it is this” or “it is that” bullshit dynamic is a complete delusion, I think it’s safe to say that we can do the same with the gods.

Look, I get the whole thing when it comes to Sekhmet. We know she was sent to destroy humanity. Anything that has ever been created about Sekhmet (unless people are just blind and unable to properly read Wiki, which is where 95% of their ignorant information is going to come from) talks about how she destroys some shit. That’s all there is. Like if I had to make an art picture of every damn webpage that pops up when you type in Sekhmet’s picture, it would look like this:

The orange are all the flames she has and the red is the rivers of blood and of course, on her back, she carries DEATH.

The orange are all the flames she has and the red is the rivers of blood and of course, on her back, she carries DEATH.

(Photo credit, bee tee dubs.)

I rather feel as if the reason behind this is because people are too worried and scared at the prospect of looking outside of preconceived notions.

We have the mindset of the early Egyptologists who were really fond of pigeonholing the netjeru into predefined [usually Christian] terms that have no bearing on ancient Egyptian religion whatsoever. We have the mindset of people who cannot or are unwilling to do the research. We have the mindset of people who are too stuck on archetypes that they don’t bother to look into the minutiae. And of course, we have people who just want to blame the gods for all of their issues so they hyper-focus on a single detail of the painting instead of looking at the whole damn scene.

If we have any or all of the above possibilities, it makes it that much easier to not have to think critically about the gods, about their roles in our lives, and how their relationships with us impact us on a grander scale.

We can state, emphatically, that because Sekhmet is a destructive force that is why we, as devotees of hers, behave as such. We can state, emphatically, that because Sekhmet raged at people, then that explains why we feel the need to rage utterly at others. We are stating with these types of reasons for our actions, our thoughts, our feelings in regard to various things is only because we decided to develop a relationship with her… When in fact, it may simply be that the relationship with her is helping us to delve deeper into our own psyche, our own souls to figure out who we are as people, how we actually feel (as opposed to the feelings we couch in terms that polite society can/will handle), and find better ways to handle those things.

  1. I Don’t Need to Explore Our Relationship Further

Above all, I think this one is my biggest pet peeve about the whole thing. By refusing to look beyond that destructive aspect that we all see next to Sekhmet’s name, there are so many rich and rewarding aspects to her that people are missing out on. Yes, that’s right. My biggest problem with all of this is that by doing this, there are so many different parts of Sekhmet that people are not able or not willing to discover because they are too busy thinking of her as C instead of the whole damn alphabet that she entails.

I will admit to a little bit of selfishness with the above, too. It can be really difficult to find people willing to explore their relationships, like me, with Sekhmet. And because there are seeming so few of us out there, it becomes difficult to be open about the changes, the new things I’ve discovered, and all of the UPG that it corresponds with.

I know that sounds weird, right? Since I don’t see people out there who are explorers, so to speak, with Sekhmet, then I don’t want to talk about it. That’s right. I want to be able to express myself in more than simple key smashing (which, I will admit, is how I’ve felt a lot lately regarding her) and I feel that if I could just talk to someone who has experienced even a little inkling of what I’ve found lately then it would help me to crystallize and define things that I’ve discovered.

And it’s exciting.

And it’s neat.

And it’s interesting.

And it’s scary as shit.

Do the thing, you guys, so I can figure shit out.

Let's get some learning on!

Let’s get some learning on!

As bitter as I have been with regard to my relationship with Sekhmet in recent months, looking back, I can see just how much she has truly enriched me as a person and me as a devotee. I want this for everyone who looks in her direction and I definitely think it’s a good course of action to stop thinking of her as belonging in this one box because the myth we have that seems specifically about her discusses her function as an irt-re. Not only is it detrimental to us as people but it is detrimental to her as our goddess. Sure, the ancient Egyptians were scared of her and the netjeru, too, but there is so much more out there. And we, as devotees whether they be long term devotees or passerby devotees, have an obligation to her, to the new people who discover her, and everyone out there who fail to look deeper, to fill in the blanks.

Place of Truth.

You ever have one of those moments where you just have this fucking thing stuck in your head? It can be a song lyric, a picture, a turn of phrase – but it’s just sitting there in your brain pan and periodically, it shoots back out at you and reminds you that it exists in there and that you should think about it. That’s what this post is about.

For weeks on end, whenever I would walk over to my altar for Sekhmet, I would hear this phrase just echoing through my meat space. Hell, let’s be honest here, this has been going on for longer than all of that – months, more like. Whenever I would go over there or pass by, which is done on a daily basis, I would just hear this fucking phrase echoing in my head and I was so very puzzled by it. It was like a little zing at first, you know? It was just there. “Boop! Hey, I’m here.” And then with each passing day that the phrase would hit me, it became more and more like an electrical shock to the system: place of truth.

I puzzled about it, you know? I thought I was making up things out of the reactionary word vomit that can occasionally inhabit one’s mind space. How often had I had moments where something would come through like this and it ended up being nothing? (Or quite possibly, it actually was something that was never solved because, let’s be real here, that’s always a possibility.) But it began to happen on such a regular basis and the zings were becoming more painful. It was like eating too much sugar after a filling falls out – a zap of pain to the teeth. Or more like a momentary brain freeze that would shoot not just into my brain, making me want to cut off the entire apparatus housing it, but throughout my whole body.

I started looking things up because, you know, I may as well give in to the reactionary odd shit my mind makes up.

I was really just expecting like a book title to pop up or have an image come up on the screen: a single pointed finger surrounded by bubbled text spelling out “ha ha ha.” That’s not what happened. The not-oracle that is Google came up with something interesting: set maat was what the ancient Egyptians referred to the Theban necropolis as. Oh, well, that was very helpful… so helpful that I looked up the bits about how the workers at Deir el-Medina were referred to as “servant of the place of truth.” And all of that was just so very helpful but not in any way, shape, or form that could possibly explain to me why the fuck I was having this damn fucking phrase puncture my brain pan every fucking morning.

I mean, honestly? What in the world did my relationship with Sekhmet and/or my altar space have to do with the Theban necropolis? I couldn’t make a connection. Sure, I had dealings with Sekhmet in the Duat, but that didn’t really relate as far as I could see to the necropolis. And I don’t really consider my altar space as sacred as, maybe someone somewhere thought the necropolis was. So, how the fuck and why the fuck and what the fuck?

I left it alone. That’s a thing, right? When things really start to aggravate you, sometimes if you just leave them alone, they percolate in the background and something might come of it.

I left it alone for so long that I told Sekhmet’s altar that it could shut the fuck up. I got more zings. I started avoiding going near her altar except for the most necessary things – offerings, dropping off jewelry, picking up jewelry, etc. I got more zings. I refused to make fucking eye contact with my fucking altar whenever I would do these in the hopes that it would help. I got more zings. I left it alone for so fucking long that I began to actually tune it out. Evidently, this was just too much to handle because things came to a head the second week of January.

The second week of the month is when I do the rites and services Sekhmet and I agreed upon (over a fucking year ago now – time flies). I usually make up the altar pretty much the same, maybe with minor changes. I clean the place up and out and spritz it down and make it damn fine. I have ritual plates that I use for the heka feast offering and ones specific for the actual food offerings I give as well. No big deal, I pulled everything down and placed the heka in the proper plate-bowl-thing and looked at it and had the volume turned up: PLACE OF TRUTH.

I stared at the space I had lovingly tended with revulsion and irritation. We were back to this stupid fucking thing again. I had finally managed to get out of that fucking gutter and I was getting sucked back in when I had things to do. So, I looked around for something while I began to get a massive fucking headache as PLACE OF TRUTH pounded through my brain pan. I found a candle and laid it over the heka meal. I stared at the plate some more and then pulled down the feather of ma’at amulet, wrapping it gently around the candle holder.

The volume dial was turned down and I was able to walk away, pleased with it.

Well.

Shit.

What the fuck.

A while later, I began moving things away and looked down at the altar space. I was pretty angry and irritated. I went to move the heka feast bowl-plate-thing with its candle and ma’at, but my hand stayed right where it was at my side. I looked at my hand. I looked at the bowl thing. I looked at Sekhmet. I looked at the feather of ma’at amulet.

PLACE OF TRUTH.

I decided to just remove the heka feast and clean the plate thing, but placed the candle and the amulet back where it had been previously. The volume dial was turned down again. I was beginning to get a very serious feeling that the bowl-plate-thing and the amulet needed to stay put. I wasn’t really sure if the candle needed to stay put, but since it’s a good focal point, I figured it could stay. Besides, if nothing else, doesn’t the place of truth deserve a little way to make some flame especially since it seems, somehow, to be related to the Lady of the Flame?

I’ve been growing more and more desperate. I can’t tune it out as clearly as I had been. I can continue to walk by; I can continue to ignore the space; I can even just go “lalalala, I can’t hear you,” with my fingers in my ears. None of it really works. I don’t know what the hell this means. Why the hell this is even supposed to be a thing?

In desperation, I went to the not-oracle that is Google and found a whole lot of the same shit I found the first time around. In desperation, I reached out to two groups for help, but have received no responses from anyone about the phrase “place of truth.” I’m clearly at the end of my tether because I can’t fucking sit around and listen to the stupid bullshit anymore. I don’t know what this means or why this means. I don’t understand the zings I’m getting or the constant feeling that there is something missing, perhaps that I, myself, am missing (clearly) or that is missing from the fucking space in general. I just don’t know.

So, because I was finally at the end of my fucking rope and demanding answers, I pulled out the Book of Doors deck.

WHAT DOES THIS FUCKING THING MEAN.

And I got a hodge-podge mess that actually made me even angrier. I was already pretty pissed to begin with – the fact that I had to turn to cards in the first place really made me snottier than usual – so the responses I got to the question, phrased differently each time, made me very unhappy. It was made worse when I realized that how I typically interpret the deck wasn’t going to work. The answers I was looking for were “woo” related, or in that realm. So, historically, I have bubkes. And technically, woo-wise, I also have bubkes but at least I know it’s related to that in some way.

This was not helping.

I sat in front of the altar and stared at the white plate. It was just a plate. I had purchased it for $1 at the dollar store. There is absolutely nothing special about the plate. It’s flat in the middle and rounds up. It’s probably more like a serving bowl or a salad bowl. There is no design to it – I wanted something nice and plain for the rites and services when I picked it out. It’s a nice enough looking bowl-plate, but it’s usefulness starts and ends at holding offerings once a month.

And yet… adding it to the altar had definitely been a good thing.

Maybe it wasn’t the bowl so much that was a good thing, but the amulet? I thought about that. And it wasn’t until the two were placed together, with the amulet wrapped daintily around the pillar candle holder, when I felt I had done a good thing. But the good thing, that feeling anyway, is still beset on all sides. There’s more here, I can fucking feel it.

I keep looking at the damn space and I keep thinking about how the fuck this can finally shut up in my head. I keep looking at the whole damn space and I keep knowing that I need to add to it. I need more than just the candle and the amulet and the bowl. There’s something here and the answers just aren’t anything more than bleariness at the corner of my eye. I keep rubbing at the bleariness but there’s nothing there but more bleariness.

What the fuck am I even doing.

I wandered back and forth to the altar. I stared at it. I looked down at the floor in frustration and then looked back up, hoping that I had taken enough time to figure out what the hell I was supposed to be doing. I walked away in a huff. I walked back with my hands linked at the back of my head, afraid that if I didn’t hold them together tightly that I may just slash my arm across the whole edifice and destroy it all. I lay down and watched Supernatural for a while. I got back up and stared at what I had begun and then moved back to the TV. I paced back and forth while I messaged with a friend, freaking out through my cell phone. It was a good thing really; I was finally able to say something to someone who, though perhaps they wouldn’t understand the entirety of the problem, they could at least be a sounding board since clearly there will be woo and there is already woo.

This is my truth.

This is my truth.

We talked and they made sense. The panic-streaked thoughts from the last few months faded out. They became less shaky and more solid. I could see what I needed to do in my head, but I just had to figure out how to get it there. As carefully as my son has done when building a precarious tower of blocks, I held my breath and placed pieces in the plate-bowl. I held my breath so as not to disturb the precarious balance. I looked down at my handiwork and knew that I needed more. This was insufficient and I looked up at mawat’s face and I thought to myself, what the fuck do you want from me? And then I saw it… the little necklace of the four arrows I had made a few weeks back. I looked down at my not-a-masterpiece and looked back up at her and then knew what I had to do.

They were the final piece to the finished product.

You see, the point was that I had to build myself a place of truth. It makes sense that the bowl was a good thing – a repository for the heka that I have taken on for the last year. It is a part of my truth. Each little piece placed carefully in that bowl-plate is a part of my truth: my path and where it has led me. I knew this year was going to be a bit of a doozy in the way of my religious experiences. I knew that last year when I looked to the future and saw more hardship, many more ordeals, and new adventures coming my way. I was told a little while ago that I would be judged, but you know? I judge myself, too and quite often, very harshly. I built myself a place of truth. These pieces are a part of my truth – my inner truth, the truth of my ib – and while I may, indeed, be judged by outsiders, the foundations remain the same.

Je suis prêt, I remind myself.

Kemetic Round Table: More Heka!

The Kemetic Round Table (KRT) is a blogging project aimed at providing practical, useful information for modern Kemetic religious practitioners. For all the entries relating to this particular topic, take a peek!

When I first got started in the wild realm of heka, I think I overcomplicated the concept to myself. I tried to look at it from the same frame of reference as the ancient Egyptians. Don’t get me wrong – that’s important especially for those of us who are recreating the religion. But I spent so much time worrying about my words and what sort of associations, ramifications, and unintended hurts may end up being inflicted on others that I stopped saying anything of merit at all.

I can assure you – this is not how you work with heka.

I think the thing that hung me up the most is that, while the ancient Egyptians saw words as inherently powerful in their own right, things have changed to an extent. We don’t take as much time with the wording of something. I think our modern viewpoint negates the inherent ability within us to effectively create heka. It’s important, of course, to be mindful of our words and how tone, inflection, and the wording can impact others, but I don’t necessarily equate someone being a twatwaffle when they speak to utilizing heka.

When I use heka, I tend to save it for “larger” occasions, specifically during the rites and services I do on behalf of Sekhmet, during major holidays, or larger magical undertakings. So, for example, I have been cooking up (so to speak) a large personal rite that has aspects of both sympathetic magic and heka interwoven together. Outside of these instances, however, I very rarely use heka in my life on a day-to-day basis.

I found that my past failings with attempting to monitor my words and mind my attitude had ended up disastrously: it impacted me negatively by feeling as if I couldn’t say anything with any substance as well as setting off my anxiety. It also made it that much harder for me to communicate effectively. I still have leftovers from this – anyone who knows me that I go quiet on the Internet frequently. This isn’t always caused because of spoon management (or lack thereof) but because I don’t feel as if I have the ability or wherewithal to (A) add anything to the conversation or (B) say anything that wouldn’t, eventually, end up coming out badly.

So, I stopped worrying about my words on a daily basis and started worrying more about them when I was in ritual and when I was working on magix. I found that I worked on it all, studying what it was I was hoping to achieve by turning to heka (healing, protection, execration, etc) and using that as a firm foundation. From there, I built upward with what I felt was needed in order to have good heka in use for the goal I was aiming to achieve.

But you know what I discovered after a while? I’ve become far more mindful of my speech on a daily basis.

Part of this, of course, could be because my job is 95% done through written communication. Much of what I work on is highly technical… and I have to communicate the technical aspects to people who would not understand the lingo. I often find myself paying more attention to how I’m phrasing a problem and what the resolution for that problem was. I pare it down to its most basic component – as an example, the carrier made a wiring repair – and reflect that in my communication.

I do this, as well, within my written communication over the Internet and my conversations with friends and family. I think about what it is they are wanting to know from me, pare it down to its most basic component, and work upward from there. (For those just getting to know me via Tumblr, this is why 99% of my responses are so short.)

When I became aware of this, I started looking around to see if there were other instances where I would use heka on a more daily basis. And I found that I did have my moments. I can’t say it’s something that comes to me either naturally or often, but it is something that I do.

Periodically, I will do a sort of invocation of one of the netjer to see me through the day. The ancient Egyptians were fond of equating themselves as the gods when they were undertaking heka. It added a layer of legitimacy along with a layer of power to the heka that they were trying to do. Most often, as anyone can guess, I reach out to Sekhmet in my attempt to embody what she is capable of: getting through some bad ass shit.

I will admit that this has had mixed results, though I don’t think it’s necessarily because my heka is ineffectual as a whole, but because I tend to do this in a fit of pique. I don’t think that being at my wit’s end necessarily assists me with what I’m trying to do… which is why I tend to plan out for quite a long time frame beforehand what heka I am undertaking.

When it comes to getting started with heka, I honestly don’t know how someone should get started. I think studying the concept in an effort to understand how it was used in ancient Egypt is a good idea. However, when I did, I found myself anxious and overwhelmed both by the concept (since it isn’t exactly an easy one to figure out in a single go) and how it could possibly impact my life.

I think baby steps are probably the best way to go, but that’s honestly the case with about 99% of anything one wishes to study. When it comes to heka, I would go through Kemetics’ blogs and read through any posts tagged under “heka” or “heka hut.” That should give you a rough understanding if what it means to the modern day practitioner.

The next few baby steps that would be the most effective would be to start off small: execration. Execrations are probably the easiest, most cathartic, and the most common forms of heka modern practitioners utilize. (Have a whole KRT topic on it even!) I’m almost positive my first official act of heka was an execration. Besides, who doesn’t like the idea of beating the crap out of a pot or piece of paper when you’re frustrated beyond your measure?

From there, I would take it one step at a time. There’s never a rush when it comes to this sort of thing. Rushing into these types of endeavors can lead to more problems in the long-run anyway. And of course, as always, make sure you have fun with it all, you know? Don’t get boring with it.

Sekhmet’s Procession with Her Executioners 2015.

January 9, 2015.

About six months ago, I started feeling as if I needed to add the Seven Arrows of Sekhmet into my practice somehow. They’re kind of important pieces of her that I’ve only recently paid any great attention to. I figured I would get around to do something altar related to add them in at some point in future.

Queue in to about a week ago when I was like, “I’m going to do it now.” I went out to a local shop and purchased four bronze arrow pendants. I have every intention of going back out for three more when the store restocks. Coincidence abounded when I received the notification that yesterday was the holiday, “Sekhmet’s Procession with Her Executioners.” Coincidence: the landmark of any devotee’s practice.

Last year, I sat around for a while and tried to figure out how I wanted to go about celebrating this particular festival. While last year’s festivities got the job done, I wanted to do something a little different. My holiday celebrations have been rather boring lately: a meal, some words, candle and incense. While this clearly is effective (since I haven’t been told to stop being a lazy bum about this shit), I wanted something more. Perhaps that stems more from three weeks of leading a very sedentary lifestyle while in arm prison or perhaps it was just simply time to hearken back to my “I’m going to have some fucking fun while doing this shit” mentality. In either case, I decided paper and food wasn’t enough this time.

All right. It looks like a collar or something, but it was what I managed.

All right. It looks like a collar or something, but it’s what I managed.

So, I worked for about an hour on how to get the arrow pendants in a sort of circlet that I wanted to fasten around my icon’s neck. Let me tell you that it was a fucking pain in the ass and I really need to come up with a better idea here. I chose silken cord that I had lying around and was unsuccessful in that attempt because the holes on the arrow pendants is really fucking tiny. My cord wouldn’t thread through it. I even had the SO try threading them for me and he handed it back with, “nope, it can’t be done,” after assuring me that he could do it.

I looked around my crafting stores, trying to figure out what the fuck I wanted to do. I knew I had wanted to purchase wire or something to hold the fucking pendants, but I figured it could wait until I had all seven. I finally found some really thin white ribbon I had lying around… and it took me about 45 minutes to thread the fucking shit through. I actually ended up unraveling one end of the white ribbon at one point. I was getting really fucking frustrated, but I kept on until I had a serviceable end result. I was even able to slide if over the head of my icon without causing any damage to myself, the arrows, or the icon in question.

That’s when I sat around and tried to figure out how I wanted this procession to go about. In 2013, I celebrated this particular festival (without knowing its full name) with a sort of Roaming Gnome impression that I found both fun, funky, and exciting. With this devious plan forming in my mind, I decided to go for broke and process Sekhmet with her SevenFour Arrow necklace around the house. I took photographic evidence to show that I’m not full of shit.

Jealous bitches? Who goes on walkabout? ME.

Jealous bitches? Who goes on walkabout? ME.

There is no TV; there is only ME.

There is no TV; there is only ME.

I have no fucking idea what the hell this is.

I have no fucking idea what the hell this is.

Books. Aw, yiss.

Books. Aw, yiss.

This room is filthy.

This room is filthy.

That looks like some damn fine eats. Let's get on with this, shall we?

That looks like some damn fine eats. Let’s get on with this, shall we?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After all of the processing was done, I put her with her necklace-of-sorts back to rights at her altar space. I ensured that it was cleaned and looking pretty dapper with all of the damn things she manages to accrue each month. (But no, seriously, I clean that fucker off every damn month and every time I go back over there to do a full on fucking clean, there’s some shit all over the place. Like, I really don’t even know how the hell this happens because I’m pretty sure I have it in my head to not add things to her altar space and yet… every month, I pare the thing down.)

That's what I'm talking about.

That’s what I’m talking about.

I added the four pieces of paper I had created last year in a sort of pattern that came out to look like an “A.” That was not done on purpose, I can assure you, but I giggled like an idiot when I realized what I had done and left it. “A” is not only just for awesome (as in awesome fucking holiday celebration; you go with your bad self) but “A” is also for Aubs, who is awesome. It was a total win-win. You may note that you only see three pieces of paper in the image, but that’s because I don’t feel comfortable announcing the names of the Sekhmet devotees I listed on the fourth piece of paper. That piece is hiding beneath the red arrow paper.

Once I was over my giggle fit, I cut two honking pieces of bread and popped it down in front of her. “Manger,” I said like my mother used to do when I was a kid. I then demanded that the SO make me a diet Coke and vodka, which devolved into a conversation that I feel best describes his stance on my religion and my point-of-view regarding offerings:

Me: Make me a diet Coke and vodka please.
SO: Is this for you or for your Roaming Lion?
Me: Lioness. And it’s for me.
SO: What if she gets thirsty, though?
Me: That shit is mine. She had better zoom in quick for a gulp before I get that shit in my hand.
SO: *shrugs* Whatever you say.

I recognize that how I go about my holiday celebrations isn’t really what others would think when they ponder the “inherent seriousness” within one’s religion. However, I can assure you that I take my love, my job, and my religion very seriously. I just don’t know why we all have to be boring fucks who sit around, thinking about the meaning of life in the cultural and religious contexts of our lives and religions, when we could all be doing Roaming Gnome impressions with our statuary. I mean, shit man. If religion means being a douche and feeling holier-than-thou, I’d rather build with blocks and take pictures of my gods traveling around my house.

I spent the rest of my night watching really awful horror movies, pounding down my straw-laden alcohol, and listening to Timber by Pitbull, feat Kesha. (No, I did not dance but that was because I was drinking my alcohol really fast and didn’t trust my feet. I had a severe case of the giggles, though.) That, to me, is a better ending to any religious holiday I have ever celebrated in my life.

And either that says something about my religious upbringing or says something about how I’m so fucking jettisoning that boring as fuck mentality about being a pious devotee.

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