I mentioned in my last post that I find it difficult to associate my gods with my current locale. This has been an ongoing issue for me. It’s because, as I said, I was so focused on my gods in the narrow interpretations that associated them with their home land. And whilst each nome in ancient Egypt may have envisioned either of my ladies in different aspects (such as viewing the lion-headed goddess in her destructive capacity versus her healing or my bovine-headed lady as a sexpot versus her gifts of magic), the general premise was the same, static. They were both seen in their various capacities but this was incorporated into the land in which they lived.
As I start stumbling down this Kemetic path, I’ve come to realize that this is no longer functional.
I live in a land that’s surrounded by the urbane and the wild. I live in a valley in western Massachusetts. (Oh! So, if you look at a map, you may be able to pinpoint where I am…) I grew up here and I’ve always found certain aspects of it both beautiful and disgusting. However, I have only ever seen these aspects in the world around me as something to eyeball and sigh over when “progress” makes way for things like casinos and parking lots, shopping malls and housing complexes. I grew up here, but I never felt really connected to the land around me. I found myself more comfortable with the week-long trips each summer to Misquamicut. I thought that it was to live by the beach was what I had in store for me, but later, I did live beside the ocean. I lived on an island in Texas. And I never found a single second of connection there.
Oh, sure, it was lovely. And there were deep aspects of that island that I love and miss to this day. I think when November rolls around, I will always sigh and bemoan the fact that I cannot see the sand dunes turn the color of gold for a week or two before changing to death. I think there will always be moments when I’m upset and just want to hear the crash of the waves as I step outside of my house, a reminder that there are things larger and bigger than me all around. I think there will always be moments when I stop and remonstrate with myself for having moved back up here. But, the connection point was important and I didn’t have it down there. And as I think about it, especially in regards to the patrons that I have, I’m pretty sure that while stopping by and staying for a week will always encourage a connection of some form, beach-living is not for me or mine.
I live in western Massachusetts and the land that I wish to own one day is a powerful example of what I need to focus on in my mind’s eye. (In case you’re wondering, I would like a four-bedroom home with enough land to cultivate with gardening ventures, as well as a back access to the woods area that surrounds our urbane progress.) It is with those images in my mind that I begin to explore the land that I live in now as opposed to lamenting the fact that I am a foolish woman who still doesn’t own a home of her own. It is with these thoughts in mind that I step outside, daily, and look to the scrub grass that is slowly growing out of the too-short clippings it gets from my landlady’s daughter. It is with that in mind that I watch as the tiny, cut down trees in the yard slowly begin to bud as they never have when I have lived here. And it’s with that going on that I begin to send out and explore the little spirits that live on this land.
If nothing else, they’re sorely unhappy. It explains why the “gardening” in the side lot never grows. It explains why the trees are angsty and refuse my offerings. They are so intent on the fact that humanity has harmed them irreparably that trying to rectify the wrong, considering that I don’t know how long I will be here, leaves me wondering if I should even try. Birds do not fly here. Raccoons, skunks, and rabbits do not hop into our yard on the lookout for goodies. The landlady, I think, fears nature and its crazy possibilities that she has terrified the land that I live on. It’s a sad, sad thing to realize, but it is as it is. I suppose I should count myself lucky because all I have to do is walk down my street and I’m in a local park that’s still wild enough to have spirits that are curious about humanity and Dimmock Pond to walk around when the weather is nice.
It’s at this moment that I begin to turn around and around, thinking about my gods in relation to where I live. Sure, I could be expansive and think about Geb, Re, Tefnut, Nut, Wesir, Aset, Sutekh, Ptah, Mut, Nefertem, and all the others in relation to this land. But, they are not as close to me as either Sekhmet or Hetharu. Yes, they exist but they are minor to me. One day, I will honor them with all that I have as surely as I do with my two main ladies, but in the mean time, harvesting and creating what I want with the ladies in question is more important than starting off with the big picture. Besides, the important parts are in the details, no?
In Dver’s post, she mentioned that she thinks of the North American Dionysos as a god related to the American bison, or buffalo. She says that in crafting her relationship with this deity and the land around her, she sought to connect him more fully with the world in which she lives. And while she goes on about how she will always long for Greece and its associations therein, it is here that she lives and it is here that she worships said god. With that in mind, instead of associating this deity with the bull as he often was in Greece, she chose an animal of North America to help forge a connection. And hoo, boy. Ain’t that interesting?
With that in my mind, I thought about how to associate my ladies with local megafauna (I LEARNED A NEW WORD!) as opposed to the animals they were associated with in ancient Egypt. There are no lions here and cows are all imports. In fact, Dver actually gave me
the suggestion for Sekhmet. And after doing a lot of research to make me aware of the fact that I’m not crazy, as well as making sure that I wasn’t just settling on something that someone who is older, wiser, and has been doing this longer has said… I think the mountain lion is a perfectly acceptable representation of the lady in question. I had initially thought about using a bobcat. They’re still local around here while the cougar has long been extinct in the area. However, the bobcat doesn’t have a look and feel that I would associate with Sekhmet: the face is more cat-like than lion-like. So, it was after seeing the picture of a cougar on Wiki that I knew that this was the “local” face that I could associate with my lady. And she seems pleased with the suggestion.
The lady, Hetharu, is a problem. The thing is that she is bovine-headed in a good many of her representations. (This isn’t the only way she’s seen, but she has the head of a cow whenever I envision her.) The thing is that cows are all imports into this country because the only native bovine were the buffalo. After years of breeding and breeding, we have the cows that we use today. Wild aurochs were commonly found in Eurasia and northern-most Africa. They seem to have gone extinct between 1500CE – 1600CE. And while there are loads of cattle farms in the area, if I really want to connect with where I’m living, continuing to use the lady based on the image of an imported animal completely (to me) flies in the face of what I’m doing here. So, I searched a lot for a wild bovine or something similar that would work with my lady, Hetharu.
idea, either. I’m assuming our land just wasn’t made for wild bison to range on. So, with that in my mind, I started to search for creatures of relation. Obviously, the cow image is out the window, but there are other creatures around here that are quasi-related. I went toward the Cervidae family and ended up doing some research on local moose, the fallow deer, the white-tailed deer, and elk. The moose and the elk’s faces didn’t conform to the grace and beauty I have always associated with my lady. And while a cow can be considered lumbering, one must consider that watching them saunter through the fields and taking care of their babies does have a certain grace to it. Is it any wonder that I settled on the white-tailed deer? And after having seen the picture of that beautiful doe, I could hear Hetharu whispering, Yes.
With that bit of research taken in and having tuckered me out, I’m not at the point where I can begin to think more clearly about enriching my practice with local rituals. Dver actually recommends this more than anything else, although the associations (I feel) are pretty important. As she mentioned in the post in question, she does go on to say about how recons can get stuck in the minutiae with the constant need to research and read about how things were done. But, you know, I’ve found this problematic since, as I’ve mentioned, rituals were done by priests and we have little to no concept of the general populace’s practices back then. I’ve decided that this isn’t going to stop me. I’m going to worship in public and in my native land.
The first step to this is the calendar problem, but, I think that’s for a different post.