In the spring of this year, I got to watch far more closely than usual as the Canadian geese came back from the south. This isn’t really a magic time or anything out of the ordinary. Every year, I’ve watched the geese squawking their way north as temperatures warm up and flowers begin to bloom. It’s become so commonplace, honestly, as someone who was born and raised here that I hardly notice it. But this year, I got to watch not only as the geese came back but as they went through their life cycle. You see, there’s this field that they prefer on my drive to work. And every morning, I would watch them waddle around and every afternoon, I’d watch them take up the playing fields so that the kids wanting to run around would have to dodge their poop.Before this spring, I had never really paid much attention to the comings and goings of the geese. They were background noises. They were something you saw flying in a vee pattern across the sky, but never really wondered too much more. Sure, sometimes you got to see them up close and personal. The graveyard where my father is buried is covered in geese from the moment they start showing back up around here to when they fly south for the winter. It’s not difficult to see the geese, coming and going or waddling around wherever they happen to be. But, it’s almost like one of those things you take for granted. You see it so much and so often that you kind of start to turn a blind eye to it. I think another large part of my sudden interest in these geese was also because I had begun to see animals I didn’t normal see on my drive to work – hawks, wild turkeys, egrets, etc. – and while these animals are normal for up here, I’m not used to seeing them regularly. With the less normal birds in my sights, it was easy to pick up on the more common animals.
The thing is that I wasn’t really expecting Geb feels because of this.
I’ve never really paid too much attention to that swathe of netjeru who fall in the “early category.” Obviously, each person’s mileage when it comes to the various theologies vary, but I don’t doubt the existence of any of the netjeru. Just because I haven’t had an interest in them or just because they haven’t had an interest in me doesn’t negate their existence. It just means that we have little in common or as a devotee, I don’t have whatever it is they’re looking for. In this case, neither one of us was looking for the other. I wasn’t interested in Geb; he wasn’t interested in him. But as each day passed and I watched those geese and I couldn’t stop myself from thinking, hm, Geb, it all kind of tumbled from there.
And one day, I looked up and realized, I was having some form of semi-devotion to a god who wears a goose on his head.
There’s something incredibly powerful about seeing a physical representation of a god and having it move you in some way. I think this is something that we, as Kemetic polytheists, need to pay attention more and more. A while ago, I began attempting to associate my gods with local fauna. This was harder than I realized because most of the fauna that I felt they would associate with weren’t animals I had ever seen in nature. However, now as I begin to realize how and why this relationship with Geb began forming, I realize the wisdom of this approach. It isn’t necessarily about forcing a sort of connection on pre-existing plant and animal life but in attempting to see your [foreign] deities in that which surrounds you. This ability can, apparently, help to forge a deeper connection with a deity that you may not have much in the way of connection to.
With each sweep by the field, and each new moment in the geese’s lives, I began to grow more and more attuned to what aspects I could see as associating with Geb. The relationship is now nearly six months in and I’ve begun to not just associate the Canadian geese with him, but the field as well. I think that aspect, too, has a lot to do with the connection with local fauna. I associate the geese, outside of Geb, with that field. And now that I associate those geese with Geb, it was not much of a leap to begin to see the field as being a part of him as well. What makes this all the more interesting is that it isn’t just the place itself but the fact that Geb is the earth as far as Kemetic polytheists go. Technically, he is what we walk upon and drive over every day. But it’s difficult to associate such a remote concept with the land that we live in since those mythologies are intrinsic to ancient Egypt and the creation therein.
By forging a relationship with those geese, even as small and minor as this one appears to be, I was able to begin to see connections that my little brain may not have made previously.
Just by seeing some geese taking up roost on a field, I’ve been able to catch a grasp on something that I’ve often had difficulties with.
I don’t usually associate my netjeru with the natural world around me. It’s not that they don’t have purview over this domain, but that it can be very difficult associating deities born in the depth of a desert with a land like western Massachusetts. I don’t have to live vicariously on a narrow strip of black silt that only comes once a year. I don’t have to warily traverse the sands around me. I don’t have any of these aspects that the ancient Egyptians were born next to, lived upon, and died beside. I have trees and rain and a thick[ly polluted] river rushing passed my front yard. I have a myriad of animals that the ancient Egyptians probably had no idea existed. The world I live in is so far removed from the world that my netjeru once reigned that it can be quite difficult to find any form of relationship between what the ancients knew and lived and what I know and live.
A lot of people go on about how paganism is a nature based religious system. For those of us who fall under the more polytheistic branch of paganism, we will often take offense to this. While, as I stated above, our gods have purview over various aspects of natural phenomena, this doesn’t necessarily make us all overly friendly with nature. I attempt this in other ways – I have a servant of Gran Bwa whose domain are forests; I attempt to give offerings to the land spirit where I live. However, this doesn’t mean that my religious tradition has much more to do with nature than any other polytheists’. It doesn’t lump me under the “nature worshiping” paganism that some people see it as. However, nature should be at least acknowledged in some polytheists’ practices. And I’m beginning to learn that, while my natural world is entirely removed from the world my netjeru once ruled, that doesn’t mean that nature can’t be a part of my religion…
…though it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a nature worshiper.
All it means is that my gods can and do have a hand in what I see around me, whether I’m paying attention to what those things are or not, whether I’m attempting to see that connection or not. Geb is in the land beneath my feet, just as he is in the land beneath the feet of the men and women who still reside in Egypt today, as he was thousands of years ago.
That’s just the lesson I need to encompass regarding my entire religious tradition; not just the relationship I’ve accidentally forged with Geb.
And I think I’m getting there.
Honestly, I’m beginning to believe that because of this new relationship and how it began that I have begun to get a better grip on my religion.
And if that’s not a good thing, I don’t know what is.
Perhaps, I can clearly and honestly say, for once, that the lesson is learned.
Pay more attention, damn it. And make sure Djehuty stays off my face.