For a long time now, I’ve known that part of the reason I’ve been heading down the path I’ve been on has not been entirely based on any conscious decisions on my part. I’ve been doing this pagan thing for nearly ten years now and as I look through the end of this past cycle in anticipation and hope of what the next yearly cycle may bring, I have also done some looking down the very long vision of the last nine or ten years that I’ve been doing this song and dance routine. And in every instance, I’ve always felt like there was someone or something that was pulling the marionette strings attached to my body. Perhaps they weren’t pulling the strings very noticeably and that is why it’s only been now, with the next year upon us, that I’ve come to realize how much string-pulling has been going on. But in all honesty, I think I was purposely ignoring what was going on in the strange hopes that I really did have free will.
And I do; I know that now.
About ten years ago, a friend of mine started telling me about Wicca. I had better Internet access than he did, so I ended up doing a hell of a lot of research about it. What has always gotten me about those cursory examinations was that I always ended up going back to ancient Egypt. Again, I will reiterate: everything ended up in a search about ancient Egypt. My life was fucking coated with ancient Egypt. It was in the books I was reading; the Google searches I was doing; the discussions I was having; the blog entries I was writing; the novel thing that I began back then; everywhere. It was everything. I was so thoroughly soaked in the fucking thing that I honestly don’t know why I didn’t just say, “ah fuck this noise; I’m just going to worship the ancient Egyptian gods and fuck anyone else who says otherwise.” I think what really gets me about all those midnight searches is the fact that it took an accidental search on Wikipedia before I realized Kemetism/Kemeticism was a thing.
I had been doing those midnight looks for over a year before I found it.
The fact that I didn’t just go hog wild and start the Kemetic thing back then leads me to believe that I do have some free will in all of this. I fucking wanted to so badly. I had always had that niggling idea in the back of my mind that maybe, just maybe the ancient gods really were real and maybe, just maybe they wanted modern day followers. But, no. I didn’t know anyone who could discuss the practice with me and I wanted to look into other avenues – all other avenues – before I made a concrete decision.
So, I wandered and meandered for a bit in this hazy, hectic, Wiccan background that ended up very badly. The lesson learned there was that I should just trust my instincts. It would take me another five or six years before I would realize just what my instincts were telling me. I’ll say this for free will: it will teach you a lot of really new and innovative things. But sometimes, it kind of sucks to learn all those lessons because you get hurt and bored and tired of fucking bone weary before the lesson actually ends up sticking, if it does at all. I don’t really have much animosity or disgust, anymore, with that time period in my life. But sometimes, I wish I could have just said, “fuck everyone – I’m doing shit my own fucking way,” and left it at that way.
Sometimes, free will is also about growing up. And while I have no problem saying, “Fuck everyone – I’m doing shit my own fucking way” now, it wasn’t always the case. And I strongly suspect that part of the free will thing was about learning lessons and growing up. I don’t know if I would say that I am completely grown up as yet, but I would like to think so. I would like to think that the growing pains within my current religious framework are over. I would like to think that I can just go on, blithely, and work in the framework I’ve created for myself. I strongly suspect this year will be another round of growing pains. They’re necessary, of course, because we can’t all just sit around and have people administer to us and do things for us throughout our lives, as much as we may want them to. But sometimes, the growing pains really fucking suck.
But all of that has been brewing within me to create what this next year is going to be for me.
I really hate saying that. I really hate saying that all of this has been leading up to this one big thing. It makes it feel almost dirty to say that. Or, maybe it just sounds like I’m kind of writing off all the shit I’ve gone through in the last few years. But it’s not. I know, consciously, that it isn’t me writing off all that shit. It’s all warped together to become a kind of raggedy and weird looking shawl or sweater that I knitted with my own two hands, sometimes with my own blood in the mix, to end up where I am today.
The year of the breakup of the mini-coven I was a part of was all about figuring out what I really wanted my religious life to be. As I’ve detailed before, I ended up lost in that mess afterwards, feeling like I knew where I needed to go but couldn’t quite bring myself to head there. So, I toed the line. I decided something like, “okay, I’ll head on over to Kemeticism and see what happens,” but ignored the rest of the signs that were showing up in every which way and had been since I was a child. Whatever the reason – maybe I had spent too much time listening to others and too little time listening to myself by that point – I got the messages mixed. I screwed the pooch in the start of all of this. Whatever the reason, the year was important because I began to realize what I wanted after a long time of never getting what the fuck I wanted out of my religious life.
That was the start. That was the fledgling fucked up starts to the sweater I would wind up making.
The next year was all about actually realizing what the messages were about. It wasn’t about the who and the what and the why. It was about the message, itself, and actually hearing that message. I was too busy, still, listening to others and less about listening to myself. I learned that lesson a lot in the next year. I realized that I hadn’t been paying attention when I should have. Yet another lesson in growing pains and yet another lesson in instincts and yet another lesson in paying the fuck attention to what the fuck I needed to pay attention to.
That was the start, too. I began making a sleeve to add to the sweater.
The next two years were about me. I had to grow up. I had to learn. I had to listen. I had to do a lot of things, but above all, I had to fix the mess I had created for myself. It wasn’t just about the mess of my religious life, but it was about me. It was about paying attention to my needs, my wants, and my desires. Too often, I would ignore them. Fuck. I always fucking ignored them because I wasn’t nearly as important as I should have been. This is a sore fucking lesson with me, still, but it was an important lesson. Since I was too busy paying attention, yet again, to everything going on around me and less about what was going on within myself, I ended up losing time. I ended up wasting time. I ended up just fucking floating along in a sort of fog, hoping beyond hope that something big, eventful, and meaningful would come into my life.
Yet again, I was too busy listening to everyone else. I am always doing this, you’ll note. So, the lesson had to be learned more painfully. I lost contact. I lost touch. I forgot everything. I was too depressed to work my way through what I needed to work through and too focused on what everyone else, around me, was doing. I lost that year. I lost so much time that I could have been doing something important or working really diligently on what I needed to work diligently on. So, I lost the year and I had to learn a more painful lesson than I had ever learned before.
I had to start over.
That was me pulling everything the fuck apart and starting right at the fucking beginning.
It was so fucking hard.
But I came out of it. I survived. I managed to look at what was going on around me, on the good days, and get on with what I needed to get on. I began to really pay attention to my religion. I used it less as something that happened sometimes and more as something that was always happening. I created a foundation. I created a daily moment in time in which I prayed to my gods, gave devotion to my gods, provided offerings to my gods. I cried to them. I screamed at them. I wailed at them. I sucked my teeth at them. I whined at them. I did everything a child will normally do to their parents when they just don’t fucking want to but I absolutely fucking did it.
It was hard. It was so hard. I don’t even know how to explain how hard and painful everything they wanted me to go through was. I had to lose touch with just about everything before I could begin to start that fucked up, hodgepodge sweater they wanted me to make. I had to build from the ground up because what was coming needed a firm foundation beneath it. And I knew that – secretly and within my heart of hearts, I absolutely knew that I had to go through the suffering of creating a firm foundation before I could move on. But, I did it. As many tears as I shed and as much screaming as I did, I absolutely did it.
I had the sleeves, the neckline and I began really working on that sweater.
The last year was about balance. I’ve already discussed that in detail in another entry so I won’t reiterate. What I will tell you is that Devo made a good point – while I may not have fully succeeded at the balancing act I have had to learn in the last year, I was fairly decent. And in every instance, it can all relate back to living in ma’at, the big goal that every Kemetic has always hoped to attain. Whether or not I truly did attain living in ma’at remains to be seen, but I will admit to being satisfied with the short answer. I feel like I accomplished a lot of what I had hoped to accomplish.
And that was the end goal.
As I neared the home stretch, there were a few more impediments to the finished product: the sweater.
I had a lot of shadow work going on in the last year or more. I think I’ve done shadow work on myself, my beliefs, my thoughts, my emotions in every way in some context and just about every day. That meant analyzing everything that needed to in order to deal with my ex-husband; in order to deal with my fucked up friendships; in order to deal with the death of my father; in order to deal with the stuff I went through in high school that still will and can give me twinges now and again. I did so much shadow work in the last year that I feel like I’ve truly cut my teeth on it and I have to say, it all fucking sucked.
There were times where the threads of my sweater had to be pulled apart because I didn’t add the new pieces in correctly. There were other times when I had to wait until I could add more thread to the sweater.
What really made it all worth it was the white room. The journey there, holding hands with the lwa who came in and showed me how much weaving the OTHERS™ have done in my life, was hard and painful. But it was well worth it because it made me realize what I was made for. It also made me realize how much I have gone through in the last five to ten years only to end up where I am today. That includes the various relationships with the many netjeru who have made themselves comfortable in my home. I may not honor them appropriately or often right now, but they’re here. And the relationships I’ve cultivated with them have all been based on this one really fucking important principle: I have a sweater to create and I need to get it finished.
I’ve been wearing the itchy, hodgepodge sweater for almost two months now. Since I left the white room, actually, I’ve been wearing it. It’s only been after the leaving of that room, with the lines in the sand that I have drawn, that I have been able to dawn that mantle. And it truly is a mantle. It is more than just simply having worked really hard on becoming a better person. Hell, I’m not even sure if being a better person is part and parcel to what needs to end up happening. All I do know is that I’ve been able to wear my self-created sweater that’s not really self-created because all of the bits of yarn that went into the fucking thing were provided by the netjeru, the gods, the lwa and everything in between. All of this has been building and building and building until last night. Every little cryptic post, every little story-like post, every fucking thing I’ve done since November has been all about putting on my handmade sweater and fucking wearing it proudly. The confluence is plain – everything has been building up to this.
I decided to accept the position that Sekhmet was offering me. In some instances, I honestly don’t know if I had much choice. If anyone has actually read the entries I’ve posted regarding this new change in our relationship, I honestly feel like I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t have a moment of free will to deny the event. However, this isn’t true. In years past, I’ve always known that I was building up to something and that the something was years in the making. What I didn’t take into consideration was how many years the thing in the making had been, well, making. I have had many, many times to deny her and I have in each instance. This time, though, I realized that it didn’t matter if I said yes or no. I’ve said no to her and she’s still managed to mold me how she’s wanted me molded with each passing year, with each passing life. So, this time, I decided to go ahead for it. Part of the reason was knowing that she would come back and back and back again until I finally said yes. Another part was a certain visit to the Duat in which I saw her statue in my heart. And I knew that even if I denied her request this time, we would always play this song and dance. It seemed stupid to waste all of the last few years’ worth of work anyway.
So, I began providing services for her as a sort of test.
What I didn’t really expect was that there were a couple of people, when I first started discussing it, who knew where I was headed. As someone said to me recently, “no one’s surprised.” Well, yeah, I guess I’m the only one. I kind of knew what was going to happen and I kind of expected it to happen, but just not this year, maybe. Whatever. The other thing I wasn’t expecting was how much positive response I’ve received when I’ve offered to do services in the name of Sekhmet for anyone willing. I have had an overwhelming response when I put the request out and this, to me, shows that these services, especially in a Kemetic context, need to be had. People want to feel the gods as much as they can and sometimes, they can’t, they won’t, or they never will. Whatever the reason behind it, they want to go to someone that they trust and someone that they know to provide the services they are unable to get elsewhere. So, with that going on in the background, I agreed to be Sekhmet’s proxy, her intermediary. (In a future post, I’ll explain what can be expected.)
To really solidify this moment, this acceptance on my part, Sekhmet requested a ritual. She wanted it done on New Year’s Eve, knowing that New Year’s Day was taken with Papa Legba items. So, we worked together on how best to see this through. I have spent every sleeping moment with her in that land of sand where her temple is. And if I wasn’t there with her, then we were in the Lake of Fire in the Duat, discussing what needed to have. I went through the ritual, in her astral temple, with her this weekend. We worked out and fine-tuned what needed to happen and the symbolism behind each act. We were completely silent during this ritual, which meant that I could choose whatever words I wanted in order to convey the intensity, the intent, and the purpose behind what it was I wanted to achieve. I chose the words je suis prêt, which is French for, I am ready.
I started the rite off by creating a canvas with which to work from. I went out and bought some nice napkins to use as altar cloths. (She gets two white, two red and Papa Legba gets the same.) I then pulled out the white bowl I have with the words ma’at etched within the center. And I placed all of the jewelry I associate her with. This include the winged Sekhmet pendant necklace, the ankh necklace, the peridot birthstone ring I have, and the newest addition, bought specifically for this ritual, the heart ring that I wear on my index finger. I placed the items in the center of the plate and then added herbs that I associate with her. I chose clove, Rowan berries, cinnamon, bay, and allspice to the mix. I then let them sit for about an hour while the work of the herbs began to soak into the jewelry.
After letting the herbal energies soak into the jewelry, I sat down before the altar and provided her the Book of Doors deck that I had purchased with her expressly in mind. I offered it to her and then placed the ceremonial knife I keep on her altar above it. I said a few words and then went through the deck, shuffling it a few times. I then pulled three cards and laughed at what greeted me. Each card was just another addition to the growing knowledge base I have. I knew what this next year was supposed to be about and the cards agreed with me. I could hear her laughing at me as I thought, “plans within plans.” It’s always that way, I think, with many of the netjeru. They have plans and then they have plans. And of course, I know some of what she has planned but not all. It doesn’t really matter what the rest of the plans are. I’ve taken the first step and I’ll accommodate myself with the rest.
Afterward, I left the full deck out on her altar in offering. I then anointed every piece of jewelry I own, as well as myself, with oils I had on hand. I then incensed everything, anointed each with water blessed by her, and with the flames of the candles I had lit upon her altar. I repeated this with each item and I re-anointed the items with the oils I chose for each. Finally, I anointed the faith stone I always keep on her altar. I wanted to unify each item on the basis of my faith, my intensity of that faith, and the belief therein. I ceremonially “cut” my hand (in action, not in deed) with the knife I have on her altar and “anointed” each piece with my own blood as well. Afterwards, I wrapped each piece of jewelry around the blade of the ceremonial knife, again to bind all items together.
For me, my faith is something always worth fighting for. And I wanted to unify that thought process with the sacred items I wear to honor her.
The final act was to “pierce my heart.” The ring in question – shaped anatomically like a heart – was chosen for this specific detail. It is a form of tying my heart more strongly with hers so that I can move around as her intermediary. We have done other rituals, ones I will not discuss, in the astral to more firmly unify this votive with the purpose we had decided it would have. Whispering je suis prêt over and over again as I did so, I slid the heart down the length of the blade until it looked as though I had pierced it with the knife. I then did the same to my “real” heart and felt the connection tied more tightly between us. Smiling, I removed all items from where I had left them in array on the altar and placed them in a more delicate and streamlined place on her altar. I let the candles burn until past midnight as she looked regally down from her domain.
We are tied
We are one
We are well on the way
Vous et moi sommes prêts