The Hermit.

Recently, my Radiant Rider-Waite deck and I have been in a hate-hate relationship. It started requiring a lot more energy than usual in order to use them. I’m pretty sure it’s my fault that this ended up happening, but it happened. So, I put them up and away for a while, telling them that they needed to behave themselves when I use them. And everything was fine until a friend of mine requested a reading. This friend has asked me a couple of times since I put the deck up and away for a reading and yesterday, I decided to pull them out. I tend to bring my deck with me to TH’s family get-togethers as a way to obviously ignore people. (Since apparently my reading means that everyone has to come over and see what I’m reading and ask questions, but not with Tarot cards – I don’t fucking get it.) And I figured if I was in public, the deck would behave itself properly. And it did. On a whim, I began shuffling and “lololol” asked it about my religious life. The first two cards of the reading were unimportant as I’m passed that, but my current phase? It’s the Hermit.

At first, I thought that this was entirely based on my community mongering. I’ve been so intent with community building and the project therein that I’ve written about needing one no less than once a month in the last year (or more). And in all that time, I’ve been so focused on the community that I’m having issues in my personal practice. The thing is that we are working with a religious framework that, while it is community based, is also outside of our normal framework. Many of us solitary Kemetics are coming into this religion from a monotheistic background, which may or may not have a communal backbone as Kemeticism does. (I know my childhood monotheistic practices were not community based, though there was a community within it.) And to compound the appearance of getting nowhere fast with the community posts that we’ve had going around, I’m rather tired of people as a whole and Kemetics, in minor. I go through phases where I am an extreme introvert, which is usually categorized as my “I hate everyone” or “let’s nuke the planet and start over” phases.

I said it was excessive, didn’t I?

The thing is that this is only part of the whole Hermit-ting the card is getting at. I can look at it in one aspect and see, “ah yes. I’m using too many spoons on that when I need to be conserving them for this.” However, I tend to view my divination practices as more than just simply two-dimensional readings. The card wasn’t just simple about having to pull back my spoons and pulling away from my community for a while. It was more about worrying about me, about my practice, and what that actually happens to be. I’ve become so complacent with my practice that I’m beginning to worry about everyone else and what they are doing and what sort of drama-mongering Tumblr is up to that I’m forgetting I have gods who need/want me, I have lwa that require me, and I have a life to lead.

On a whole, I think this is something that all people, of polytheistic, Kemetic, and-or pagan stock, need to pay attention to. If you send things out on the Internet all the time, what does your practice look like? How often are you online, worrying about what others think about you? How often are you online, calling someone else out on what you perceive to be a slight or injustice? Is your relationship with your gods suffering because you’re so focused on things that have no impact on you? Is your practice suffering because you’re so focused on “teaching a thing” to people who have absolutely no part in your life aside from having seen them in passing online?

I was so focused on what other people were thinking about me and worrying about not saying things that I felt because of how other people would react that I was forgetting the most important thing in my entire practice. I was at the point where I was so focused on coming home from work to see the latest drama on Tumblr or to see who was pissed off at whom on Facebook that I was forgetting about the most important facet in my entire practice. And that most important thing is me. There is no one else here who can pick up my mantle should I fall. There is no one else around who will be able to write the guide I’m planning for Sekhmet. There is no one else here who can do the work Papa Legba has asked of me should I get caught up in outsiders’ drama.

And frankly, what is the point in all the things that I’m doing with my practice if I’m focused on other people?

My practice, as I’ve been harping on lately, is orthopraxic. I don’t have to sit around and debate theology with anyone about anything (although I will, occasionally). My religion has nothing to do with what I’m thinking or what Joe Blow Tumblr is thinking. This practice is about what I’m doing. And if I’m focusing on other people and other things, then all of the shadow work, SVP entries, grave-tending, and devotional acts go down the drain. They all end up failing the ultimate test, which is to create a functional, cohesive practice on a solitary level so that, maybe one day, we can create a functional, cohesive practice on a community level.

As Sekhmet said to my earlier,

Being a hermit isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can be a good thing. It’s not an act of selfishness to lock yourself away from other people. It is an act, as you are already aware, of unconditional love. And sometimes, those acts of love require you to step away from the whole and work on the one. I haven’t been working so hard on you for all these years for you to be of no use to me now.

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