I don’t actually know a damn thing about this festival. If you know me or have stepped your wee toe into my wheelhouse for any length of time, this shouldn’t actually be a surprise. When I went through my religious … Continue reading
Hagging Out – April 2023.
A post where imnuendo is rife, but fun was had. Continue reading
Hagging Out – March 2023.
In the northern hemisphere, the vernal equinox is usually said to take place on the 20th or 21st of March. Some people claim it for the 22nd. I don’t really have much say in what date really works best or which date the books tell you is the most important. The vernal equinox beckons me with its promise of spring, renewal, rebirth, new beginnings. And frankly, the beginning of spring doesn’t happen when everyone else claims it does on my calendar. It actually begins about 10 – 12 days before the accepted dates when Daylight Savings begins. And when Ra shows back up after 6-ish months of radio silence. Continue reading
Been Gone for a Long, Long Time.
When I was a baby Kemetic, there were no resource lists. The groups or message boards talked about discernment and stay away from Budge, but any book purporting to be a viable resource for Kemeticism was kind of up for grabs. This is part of the reason why my resource list includes beginner friendly, and not so beginner friendly, resources. This is also why some books that I’ve read have been left off the list – they’re a waste of time for a neophyte to bother with. And that is why I have a copy of Ancient Egyptian Magic by Bob Brier, which is conveniently not on my list.
Ole Bob is not what we would term a good resource. I picked up the book because I had read one of his other books about Tutankhamun and I enjoyed it. But Ancient Egyptian Magic… well. Frankly, from my notes, this book is the same generic shit most Kemetics have read a thousand times over before they’re even a month or two into this shit. And honestly? Little of the book remains in my memory except for two things.
He has a chapter about calendars. The first thing about those calendars was that he basically created a fixed calendar for the book. I would later re-use the model for my own religious calendar. Why recreate the wheel every year when I could just have everything happen on the same day over and over again? And the second was the concept of lucky and unlucky days. Each day was considered favorable or adverse [allegedly]. I don’t know if that’s 100% accurate about the lucky/unlucky days but it kind of stuck with me. Considering the longevity of ancient Egypt and the complexities of the calendar, this kind of seems a bit watered down for my tastes. But the idea that there were just some days of the year that were considered bad news bears and other days that were really good kind of resonated I guess.
According to Bob’s calendar, January 3rd is a “very adverse day”. On my personal religious calendar, January the 3rd is the second day of II Peret, which is “very favorable” when I looked at Bob’s calendar chapter. Not sure which it is in my personal lexicon, but it will eternally be remembered as the day that my mother died.
My mother died.
You’ve Been on My Mind
None of this was unexpected. And not in that philosophical way about how the only two things certain in life are death and taxes. In October of 2019, or maybe September of 2019 – we don’t know for sure – she had a series of catastrophic strokes that left her nearly incapable of taking care of herself. She didn’t get up, barely ate, and stopped taking care of her dog. That was the one thing that we could count on – her love and care for her dog. She went to the hospital and never went back home again.
Everyone seemed to believe that she would one day get better. My uncle and aunt recovered from their strokes (my uncle with more difficulty and less success than my aunt), so obviously my mother would recover too. But they all seemed to forget, or maybe ignored is a better word, she suffered pretty heavily from depression. And as my other aunt has said, my mom always seemed to have a difficult life. Just with those two factors alone, why would she put in the work to get better? No matter what she claimed on the phone with people who she probably didn’t actually remember (depended on the day really).
And she didn’t.
She claimed she wanted to “get better” in calls with her nursing homes to talk health care plans, but put in minimal to no effort to get there. Sometimes I wonder if people talked her into believing it (probable) when she assured me she would do everything she could to walk on her own again, to write again, to talk without thinking hard about what she was trying to say. But she always refused to do the work when the time came and even started being more than just a little combative about therapies. I often wonder if the nursing homes wrote down in her chart that she wasn’t willing to do what was necessary, but maybe they just all knew what everyone else was ignoring. My mom was just biding her time until the inevitable.
Slowly I made peace with the idea that she was going to be bed-ridden for the remainder of her life. She would never walk outside or have another dog. She would never learn how to use a wheelchair or how to hold a pen again. Her text messages and emails would be forever word salad. And so would phone conversations, too. And then after all of that she would die. She would die in one of those places with no one nearby. I bought a cremation package. I stopped letting the nurses send her to the hospital for UTIs and arrhythmia and put her on palliative care. And eventually, I signed the DNR that they had brought up to me a handful of times before I agreed to sign it.
On January 2nd, they called at 11AM to tell me that she wasn’t doing well. That was it. “Well, okay,” I said. It wasn’t the first time I had gotten that call since I signed the DNR. I had gotten two more in the intervening months, so it was practically business as usual. At 1:42PM on the 3rd, they told me that she was actively dying and it wouldn’t be long. This was the call where people would ask about Last Rites and to say goodbyes. I had said mine years before on a Christmas Day when I thought she was doing to die in the hospital three months after she went into the hospital because of her strokes. I didn’t need to say goodbye again. At 3:37PM, I was told that she passed.
In her sleep.
Let the Rivers Guide You In
The death of my mother opened a whole complicated chasm of emotions. It was never really a waterfall but more like a steady trickle that continued. One of those annoying leaks from the faucet that you can hear but no matter how many times you fiddle with it, the steady drips of water continue. I just kept following the drips, fiddling with the faucet, and moving on until I got annoyed by the leak again. A steady circle of hear the leak, futz with the thing that is leaking, and then scream in irritation when I couldn’t fix the leak.
I knew the overall plan for her death – I had semi-thought it out before it happened. I mean, I did buy a cremation package after all. And knowing that I had a sort-of-plan kind of helped. The one thing the family is known for are plans and lists. Better to be forearmed than unarmed, as my mother would say. But it became clear early on that plans or no plans, nothing was really going to happen according to what I had thought.
It became more “go with the flow” as I tried to figure out what I needed to do. And a lot of fending off the masses who either wanted to tell me what I should do or demand to know what was happening every minute of the fucking day. Every time I thought “okay, now we can plan and feel accomplished” it didn’t quite work out that way. When I felt ready to put the pedal to the metal, I was constantly reminded that, much like Wash from Firefly (spoiler), “I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar.” And much like that character, I would be gutted later.
The whole month of January is a fog of start and stop. Of ignoring family members who needed to “check in” on me. Of ignoring their attempts while I just went through the motions because I didn’t know what else to do before I could even get to a fucking starting point. Success and movement; stall out and wait.
I was beyond frustrated to the point of numbness. In a way, I’m still kind of numb. Grief isn’t linear as much as it would make life easier if it was. The frustration rears its head and then disappears. A dark, angry void appears within and then closes back up. The well of screams and tears from my inner child rings out and then stops. Everything is wrong; everything is okay. A constant battle amid the storm surge and a lot of the time, it feels like I’m drowning.
The flow finally got a little easier, a little less wild. And it was steady, less rough. It gave me more time to grieve or something. But I’m not sure that I even know what that means, or how to do it. I emu’d my little head in the sand, occasionally coming up for air to look around. But mostly I let the numbness take over, assuming that once X was done, then I’d feel better. Or maybe just less number. But the goal posts kept moving and still are to this day.
Waiting Here Till the Stars Fall Out of the Sky
My favorite afterlife imagery stems from the Old Kingdom. The vision of the Pharaoh being remade into a star has always struck me in a way that the Duat can’t or never will. I think it’s because I love stars, the night sky. It’s so beautiful. Watching the night sky time lapses is relaxing to me, like ASMR or something. And each speck of light is someone who once lived on earth but has been remade into helium, hydrogen, and nuclear forges to churn out millennia worth of light.
There’s this trend on TikTok about don’t look for me after I’ve died in the sunsets but look for me in -insert place here-. Look for me in the stars, of course, is how I would finish the trend (if I knew how to do that shit). But not just me. All of my ancestors too.
Being able to look up (when the clouds allow) and seeing the stars gives me that added connection, padding if you will. Yet another physical reminder of my ancestors but also a deep held belief that has helped me to add depth and meaning to my practice. I can also look up and feel a speck of connection to the faceless strangers and names from history and the nameless as well.
It’s also nice to be able to go outside, choose a star, call it one of my ancestors’ names and feel them, see them. But the one person that I cannot see is my mother. We could assume that it’s just too soon, too early, and maybe that’s a part of it. Most of the other ancestors I’ve reached out to and/or incorporated into my practice have been dead for quite some time. But there’s been just… so much in the last three years that has truly made me evaluate whether I could see her as part of the nexus of my ancestors. And I can’t see her there.
I don’t feel guilt for feeling this way, just resigned. This is how other Kemetics have felt about toxic or mean or abusive deceased. So, I’m not alone. But it feels weird to even think much less acknowledge.
One of the things that a lot of pagans would say when I talked about my mom’s passing would be about her being welcomed by the ancestors. I kind of brushed it off but it didn’t sit right with me. And it’s because I can’t see her in that mass of ancestors because of trauma and rage and grief and and and. Also let’s just not say those types of things to people because a lot of people have background stuff that they don’t talk about with abusive/traumatic relationships and talking about those people being welcomed by the ancestors is triggering as shit.
I don’t know if I’ll ever included her honestly.
And that’s okay. If I ever feel the need to fill the place that I had staked out for her, 10 years or more now, on the ancestor road map I can put someone else there. Like Anne Boleyn or maybe Hatshepsut or Lucrezia Borgia or whoever. I can slide them in there and keep them with a little super glue or something. And maybe remove them if it doesn’t work out. Or if I finally decide one day that my mom belongs in that spot.
You’re Coming Home
My brother hated the idea of bringing her back home to bury her. He didn’t have a say in the plan and since there was a hole in the ground designated for her beside our dad… So, we’ll use it. He tried to talk me out of it but the plan was in motion long before he offered his unasked for opinion. And while he complained and bitched, it was going to happen the way I said it would. And then he said that mom would hate being back up north.
But oh well.
I chose to lay her to rest / do the memorial service on February 21st. I had originally chose February 18th because it was the Feast of Nut Who Counts Up Days. Poetic, right? But uh funerals aren’t held on the weekends I guess. And the 21st was the first available day after the Feast that would also give my brother enough time to drive up (36 hour drive up and another one of the way back but that’s what he decided).
The morning of the 21st, it snowed. It was honestly the first real snow up here all winter (An accumulated total of 4.6″ for the whole of winter – that’s totally normal). I walked outside that morning and laughed. It was like a final “fuck you” from here to my mom. She had fled the state after multiple winters spent blowing out her knees or one of her tires because of the snow and ice. My brother was 100% right – Mom would be pissed off beyond all measure to be back up here and doubly so to find it snowing the day she was going into the ground for eternity.
She’d probably be even angrier, or maybe would laugh, to find out that the week following her interment, we are getting snow every day. Not a lot but just enough to dust the ground back over. Maybe the snow, much like the family, needed her back up here to finally put an end to the stasis we’ve all been in (but probably not).
The Pain is the Same
This post has been marinating in my journal for close to two months. I originally wrote it to post here. I started it at the beginning of February and then took the whole month to write. Then I decided to keep it to myself before rethinking that. I finally decided to share it here but didn’t want to release it right away. Today, the day I chose to finally publish it, is March 25th. Mom would have been 67 today.
New [Old] Blog – Who Dis?
I used to be so excited to sit down and pop off a blog post here. I can remember talking excitedly about it to my partner or to my online friends. It felt like a great place to go and get it all out so I could [mostly never] look back on how far things have changed over the many years I used this platform. I can recall thinking fondly of the future of this place and all the ideas percolating, ready to eventually be born.
But then, I got tired of the bullshit. And tired of myself. And tired of no one giving a tin shit. And curmudgeonly old about moving to a different platform. And jaded about everything. And annoyed with the changes WP kept rolling out “to make the platform easier”. And then life happened and the world kept spinning ridiculously like it does every day, every month, every year. And I fell out of love with this blog and this platform and frankly, this practice.
It often felt like I was still Kemetic because it was there. And how did I write about all that on a blog to share those vulnerabilities with the 2 people who ever consistently read my blog? That might seem like a vain question but I started this blog to network and community build and learn and grow. One can’t do all that solo. And okay, I’ll admit there’s a smidgen of Leo sun in that question too.
And yeah. Okay, okay. Two conistent readers might be pushing it. TTR has always been the one honestly. And I didn’t want to bother them. They had their own stuff, their own life, and since I’ve always very much felt like I have nothing of value to add to a discussion/conversation, I didn’t want to continue to force myself on them. What’s the point in that? It’s bound to get annoying.
So, I hermit-ed and dusted this shit off now and again. But mostly hermit-ing with a lot of jadedness and even more listlessness. I couldn’t really find a reason to bother, to care, to even remotely try.
But that’s not really true, I suppose. I did try in different ways. I joined TikTok and after resolving never to post videos there, I got shoved into it by a certain lioness-faced goddess. And realized that the Kemetic niche over there was tiny as shit, so kept going. (Still there.) And maybe I’ve made a difference and maybe I’ve pissed people off but I kind of enjoy it a bit even if I have a hard time figuring out what new content to post and loudly not-discussing things I would prefer to (like local cultus ’cause of course that shit flops on TT the way it did on Tumblr and here).
And I think I’ve found a community [on Tumblr] that works. Not a witch really but they all are. And they do stuff en masse once a month-ish. It’s dragged me back to Tumblr when I was really kind of thinking about archiving that shit and never logging in. And gotten me interested in things I’ve known I was interested in investigating but never bothered. I don’t always participate in the stuff going on [because life] but I enjoy reading others’ posts again and thinking about a future.
So, maybe I am still trying and didn’t actually give up as much as I thought I had.
But. To the point of whatever the fuck this entry is…
Um, like. I don’t fucking know anymore but my ancestors started getting fucking ANNOYING about this damn blog. “Write about it,” they would say. And they were always pointing here. Not at a journal. Not in a Word doc. Not on Tumblr. Here. And I would go, write about fucking WHAT. It got to the point where every fucking reading was, “you should write about that.” About WHAT. Didn’t seem to matter what; just write about it.
So, I guess this is my ode to the ancestors. Maybe I will; maybe I’ll keep ignoring you. But I’ve blown the dust off this thing at any rate. Maybe the next time we sit down again, you can find some new piece of advice to give.
Treading the Fishes 2022.
The image of a fish, whether alive or dead, doesn’t exactly inspire an image of a bonfire. A ton of potential associated images may flash in one’s mind after hearing the word “fish” and more than likely, an image of fire is not going to pop up. And yet, I have to try and figure out how to merge the two as the ancient Egyptian five-day holiday, Treading the Fishes, perfectly lines up with this year’s summer solstice.
The Solstice Squad call to solstice shenanigans was put out a few weeks back. In amusement, I immediately jumped into my calendar to see which ancient Egyptian festival lined up with it. Imagine my surprise when I saw the five-day Treading the Fishes holiday. I had never in my whole life wanted to celebrate a holiday that talked about fish, but since I’ve been trying to modernize holidays, merge modern day holidays with ancient, and trying to foster some sense of community, I was stuck.
Oh, sure. I could go with one of the normal Midsummer associations eclectic pagans harp on. The Llewellyn book I bought years ago about the summer solstice claims that Ra would be an appropriate deity to honor (well that’s a given really) and I could also honor Anuket (a deity that personifies the inundation of the Nile which happened around July/August and I was shocked to see that name). But the idea of cobbling together something new and not based on antiquity grated on my nerves. So… fish stepping it is.
Through the Ancient Ruins
This particular festival comes to us from the Kom Ombo calendar and is associated with Heru-Wer. Unlike most ancient Egyptian festivals where I am often left scratching my head about the why or the what, there are no questions to be had here. There is no secret meaning in the name, lost to the sands of time. This holiday is, quite literally, about treading on fishes.
In antiquity, the pharaoh or his representative would be given a basket of dried fish carcasses (ew) and would step on them. I assume the stepping on them took place at least once each day. Sometimes the pharaoh would also renew his vows of protection and kingship as part of this holiday, but clearly it was the stepping on dead fishes that held the most import here. And can I just say that I really hope they were wearing sandals at the time of the stepping?
The reason for the stepping on fish is two-fold: both a renewal of ma’at and a renewal of life. Fish could have both ma’at and isfet qualities in ancient Egypt. In this particular instance, the dried carcass of fish represent the overcoming of evil-doers. Just as ancient iconography depicts bound and trod upon, the stepping on the dead fish was symbolic of that. The second purpose of the treading on fish guts was a renewal of life. The bodies of the fish would be buried within the fields to help propagate new life.
When the Moon and the Stars Were Aligned
I will do a lot for my gods but slimy fish guts or dried fish guts is where I draw the line. I never had any intention of stepping on fish but replicas? Now that was something I could do. I live surrounded by three different craft store chains and they always have unfinished wood pieces of some animal or another on hand. I lucked out by finding a pack of 50 that you can thread into a garland (… why…?) and since the end result of the fishies was to burn, I thought wood pieces would be the best choices.
The basket posed a problem. Of all the things that I couldn’t find in the various home goods stores mixed in with the craft shops all around. Every basket didn’t really elicit the image I had in my head and none of the woven baskets I had at home worked either. I stopped at every obvious shop and not-obvious shop hoping for the basket and failed at every instance. I decided against using one after repeatedly finding nothing.
Other than stomping and vow renewals, what else could one do for five days? It was an evolving question. I mean, the ancient Egyptians are old hat at the long-winded holidays but how could the guy in charge (or his representative) just… step on fish… for five whole days? I decided three days was sufficient so I could utilize the rest of my time focusing on preparing for the Beautiful Reunion which starts three days after Treading the Fishes.
When You Sparked a Flame
I have to laugh at myself nowadays because ritual purity has never been a huge thing for me in my practice. Natron and purifying everything on my body to the ancient standards always seemed like Way Too Much for me even when I was exploring the idea that I could potentially hybridize a priestly role for myself for some of my deities. However, I’ve come to realize that I need the silence of a warm bath before long winded holiday shenanigans so day 1 for Treading the Fishes included an hour long bath and the constantly ringing phrase through my head, cleanliness is next to godliness.
The second day included yet another last ditch basket finding adventure that ended in failure. And yet more cleansing. But the third day was the important day, so I made my husband go out and ignite the tiny spark of pyromania that lives in his heart to light the Midsummer Bonfire and subsequently consecrate our fire pit (a Christmas gift that took months longer to get to my home than initially expected) for the first time.
There were three years’ worth of corn dolls from the Osiris Mysteries that needed to be reduced to ash. The corn dolls spend about four or five months covered in their dirt nap before they’re pulled free to awaken once more. Their ashes will be used throughout the yard as I work on trying to get certain sections of the yards where I want them before frosts begin again in the cooler months.
I chose to use 7 fish from my package of 50. Certain numbers have a specific meaning in ancient Egypt and seven tends to herald a great variety of things. But perfection was the image I was aiming for. The slaughter and decimation of 7 enemies, the overcoming of seven agents of isfet to the tune of ma’at screaming in one’s ears. The earth was chosen as the basket to cradle the enemies which seemed far more poetic than I had initially realized.
The fish burned quickly and efficiently. Before long, they were blackened vaguely fish-looking outlines. And when I covered the pit over that night, there wasn’t a single hint that the ashes had once held pieces of the past (corn dolls) or the desiccated and smited remains of agents of isfet. There was only the promise of ashes to be utilized in the renewal of the earth.
Deep into the Night
Preparing for Lent is a little like waiting for the next shoe to drop for me. Like, you see it on the high wire above you and know that its grip on the phone line is precarious. It’s going to come down eventually but the when is still up in the air. That’s what preparation for Lent often feels like because the Lenten season with its sacrifice and introspection rarely goes out without a bang.
Sometimes, I’m prepared ahead of time. I’ve taken the time to be introspective and find a particular thread to focus on. But, mostly, I often feel surprised by the start of Lent. I don’t really know why either because I put Lent on my Google calendar many months in advance and see it regularly when I scroll through the months to get an idea of what’s coming up. But even with the words LENT scrawled across 40 days on my calendar, I’m most often scrambling for something to focus on, to sacrifice, to internalize, to flay me alive and rebuild from the pieces cannibalized from my stinking corpse.
I chose to stop buying books. After two or three years of not reading, I got back into it. (Thanks, BookTok.) I was on a buying spree for longer than I care to admit. I doubt I’ll keep that up after Holy Week. My TBR may be 22 books deep on my end table and my wishlist is… well a lot bigger, but I keep getting sucked down different fiction paths that light me up again. I may have jumped headfirst into reading as a learned behavior to hide from reality as a child, but it brings me such joy.
I chose to donate the price of a book each Friday to some organization. I figured since I was saving money by not purchasing books so often, I could donate the proceeds. This isn’t new for me to do during Lent – it’s just the first time I’ve been able to do it each Friday because something Big and Expensive hasn’t come up yet. (My need of new breaks for my car has been a thing since before Lent so it doesn’t count.)
I decided to also add calorie counting again because my avoidant personality loves to cope with food. Food, food, food. Give me way too much to eat, full to bursting, and my fat ass is particularly content even if I bemoan the over-full part.
But the biggest thing to focus on was dedication on the religious front. It’s gotten sorely complicated and things I’ve wanted to do have often fallen to the wayside. So, I needed to evaluate and focus on what I personally need on this mystically, bewildering, meandering path of mine.
Wonder Where You Are
Reevaluation is something that we should all take part in, but my problem is that I’m so used to just sitting like a boulder in the middle of a river, I never take the time. I never make the time. Isn’t it easier to allow the water to burble and scream around me than to actually try and move? The water will eventually wear this boulder down, though, and the sharp edges of the rock face are becoming blunt with age.
It started off with the fucking calendar of course. It’s a lot. There’s too much. It doesn’t seem right and while interesting things crop up now and again that snag my interest, it’s still far too fucking much. It’s this weird mismatch, hodge podge of random anecdotes all swirling around in this sort of free form blob that gives me a headache to look at. It’s too fucking much but that’s how I roll. Overwhelm first; figure it out in pieces later.
And then the land shit. That part isn’t too much; it seems like it’s not enough. As if the wraiths and spirits and monsters tromping through my tiny bog each night are all constantly whispering that I need to do much more than I’ve already started to consider or have done. The spirits of the pasture, the craggy men in the mountains beyond, the burbling river have all joined in partnership to assure me that there’s more.
The tiny little snippets of those hags I talk to online have started to coalesce into something close to sentience in my mind. And the calendar and the local cultus are all adding into the mix in a way that leaves me confused and frightened. This is never what I saw for me. This was something to admire in others’ practice over the early morning coffee or exhausted late night social media doom scrolling.
Reevaluate before you suffocate, except that I’ve already started to suffocate.
Nothing Has Changed at All
This Lenten season felt a little like the world was frozen all around me and I had to explore that frozen tundra to figure out a way to get through. The chaos that consumed me was just another icy wind with gnarled fingers scratching at my face and mind, but it changed nothing coming out of it on the other side. The world was frozen and me right along with it.
There is no true feeling of success here. Sometimes, towards the end, I feel so proud of maintaining the right levels of sacrifice that I’m filled with excitement and joy. I am happy in those moments, a bragging swagger added to each step forward. But this year, the feeling is less about success and more a simple survival.
It is not as if I didn’t finish out this season doing the few things I truly wanted to complete (no new books/donate) but it still feels like even those accomplishments are bland. Or maybe, not bland per se. A simple fact that was never in question. I decided no to this and yes to this and therefore that is what happened. Everything else added to the tally were effluvia and therefore not as nearly as important as I built them up in my mind.
This all speaks to the need for change across the board. Again.
A Strange Light in the Sky
Towards the end of Lent, I usually begin reviewing my list of Items to Be Bought Later for my ancestors so that I can get them something. It’s kind of a “thanks for putting up with my bullshit” present. If I feel particularly good about how things went, I’ll sometimes add something for myself but not this year. They earmarked their present in February so I’ll grab it next week for them. I don’t know who is more excited about this.
For myself? I’m left with a list of questions and to-dos that sort of gets longer each day. The messages adding to those questions and things to see to are all being pushed in concert like everyone came together in a meeting and decided to push the same agenda no matter who is doing the pushing.
So, here’s to Lent and to the Tower card that keeps getting shoved in my face. I see it and maybe I’ll do something about it. Eventually. Probably.
Divine Birth Mystery of Ra 2022
According to the dictionary, a mystery is something that is unknown, remains unexplained, or kept secret. The birth of Ra is no true mystery though. If you grab a dart and throw it at a board, you’ll find a creation … Continue reading
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Should I Evolve?
The week leading up to the Mysteries was cold and warm. Sunlight would sweep prettily through the red, orange, and yellow leaves still on the trees.