This week was strange only in the fact that I actually remembered I had a rite coming up. Hell, I remembered last weekend that I had a rite coming up and had to demure from plans with friends this weekend so that I could see the religious aspect of my life. What was even weirder was that I found myself looking forward to the weekend. Of course, I’m usually looking forward to the weekend because work is shit, but in this particular instance, I was looking forward to the weekend because of the rite I was supposed to be doing. I don’t know if I’ve ever truly looked forward to do these things before. Looking back on this last week, it was almost as if I was climbing out of my skin with the need to be doing something and when it finally came upon me, I looked up and knew who I was, what I was, and what I had to do. I stopped questioning myself long enough to do what I had said I would do and maybe, I was a little content with it.
Yesterday, I found myself in a sorry state, though. Most of my Saturdays are active when I have rites to perform. But it was nearly like the morning rain had infested my soul with something that needed to come out. I won’t say much more about it because I think it’s a blog entry all its own. But I felt very much like I was trying to climb out of my own skin again. There were other things that were impacting me in a way I hadn’t anticipated – things that I’ve done with and dealt with before with little to no issue. But yesterday, issues happened and I found myself sore in places I shouldn’t have been as well as flushed. Maybe I’m getting sick and my mind wandered with the illness that it’s trying to fight off. All I know is that this last week, when I thought of the rites and services for Saturday, I felt content and ready. Yesterday, as I attempted to prepare for them, I found myself wanting to slither away from myself and hide in a thicket of grass or in the sky.
Instead, I sat around and read.
I did other things like the laundry and cleaned a bit. I can’t very well go to the rites with a dirty house at my back. It seems a bit unseemly to do so. Amid all the wandering thoughts and the odd sensations and the reading of a book, I would stop now and again to clear up the detritus from the last week or so that I left to fester. I cleaned the table and I washed the dishes. I made sure the counter tops were cleaned and wiped with cleaner. I watched the clouds float lazily across the sky, some dark with impending rain and later, some pale and fluffy with the blue skies of a late spring day. Yesterday, it felt very much like Mother Nature couldn’t make up her mind about what she wanted the day to be like and I felt very much in line with her in all of that. Last night, thunder pealed and I saw a brief flash of lightning; I counted to ten before the thunderclap sounded. A few miles away, TH told me that the skies opened up and a torrential downpour flooded the streets. It didn’t here; we just heard thunder and had a few soft patters of rain.
I felt like Mother Nature yesterday, in a way. I was a little of this and I was a lot of that, but I wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be. I wanted to be surefooted and intent on the goal. And in a way, I was. I knew what I was about. I didn’t demure in the process of cleaning up and setting up the altar. I did find myself wandering a lot, though, as I wrote the petitions on their little bits of paper to place in a bowl at Sekhmet’s feet. While I wrote, I caught glimmers of emotional content, both from the petitioners themselves as well as from that other that I tend to associate with Sekhmet. Sometimes, she would be bemused and other times, she would be angry on behalf of the asker. Whatever the case may be, my own emotional feelings regarding the petitions were, for once, nonexistent. I had no opinion, either emotional or mental, on the writing but only on the cramp in my hand as I wrote.
It took me about two hours to complete it all and I don’t honestly know if that was because I was dicking around on the Internet while writing them down or if it was merely because there was a bit to write. Or maybe, it’s just the normal that this loquacious motherfucker rambles the fuck on when I submit the petitions. I try to be as specific as possible – something I am always counseling others to be in any instance. The gods, Sekhmet especially in my opinion, are queer when it comes to interpretations of the wants and desires of others. I often think that if I am not very specific about what it is people are asking for, then the wrong things will happen and I will feel less like I know what I’m doing and more like I’m fucking everything up. So, I write a lot, I supposed, far more than what most people submit to me in couched and flowery terms, sometimes a bit poetic in its sycophantic prose. I think Sekhmet is amused when I get in a flowery mood, a mood of poetry in my step and in my word. I think sometimes that it’s when I’m like that that the working is far better than it normally would.
I’m probably making this up anyway.
As I was cleaning off the altar space, making room for what I was going to be placing before her, I stopped myself often and stared down at the prayer beads that Autumn made for me a while back. I tend to touch them a lot, though I don’t really pray to them. They’re mostly a bauble right now, but I’ve found that if I’m feeling particularly “uncentered” about anything, I can just touch them and I’m okay for a bit. I found myself stroking the cool of the carnelian and lightly caressing the gold beading between the groups of carnelian. It’s always cool in my hand and maybe that’s why it brings me back into focus: usually, if I’m feeling “uncentered,” I end up feeling rather overheated. Maybe it’s the cool of the stones that is all my body needs. Whatever the case may be, as I cleaned off the altar and made sure there wasn’t a speck of dust, I stopped frequently to stroke the beads and to run my finger across the gold ankh. I wanted to feel the whole thing cool against my skin, but I didn’t dare touch it.
It was almost like, “I have requested my friend to create this thing in the name of Sekhmet,” but it’s really, all about her. I can touch it and I can feel something when I do so, but it’s really Sekhmet’s prayer beads. I just get to keep them safe upon her altar whenever she doesn’t want them near. I know that’s not the case – both S and I had discussed what use, if any, we would have for the beads though never came to a clear conclusion. Right now, it’s just a focal point, not just for the altar itself but also for me. It’s a focus so that when I am overheated and feeling a bit of blah and needing something and not knowing what that something is, I can just touch them and I am grounded for a bit. (Grounded as in, I no longer feel out of sorts, not in the meditation sort of way?)
I cleaned everything down, myself included, with Florida water. I figure that there are a ton of people out there who use the stuff for everything; I’ve heard it used in cures for people, honestly. I figure it can’t be too bad to feel a bit of citrus scented coolness on your body and on your altar. It’s a nice scent, really, and it is a bit more of a ground, I think, just like the prayer beads. The stuff I bought, in the beginning, specifically for the lwa whom I serve. But now, it’s come to the point where it’s a good bit of something when I’m cleaning everyone out – all the altars, turning them up and re-consecrating them after a good dust and cleanse. It’s also helpful, as I said, when I put it on my face and on the back of my neck. Sometimes, I fling droplets in my hair and let it evaporate slowly. My hair still smells of the Florida water now, hours later.
I needed to ground myself in some way before I did what I was set to do. I think I managed, at least.
I’ve been kind of dieting, which made the whole “here is some food, too” bit kind of difficult. I don’t think people realize how small actual serving sizes are, unless they already eat the proper serving size. I am, of course, a product of American gluttony and have always had large portions in my evening meal that are probably half to a full portion above what they should be. So, I had to keep in mind what my calorie counter was telling me when I decided on the course of feeding Sekhmet. I also had to decide on things that were healthy. Of course, I would like to think that I tend to feed her healthy bits anyway because I like to give her my favorite things as a form of sacrifice, which includes a lot of fruit. (Devo is always making fun of me for the whole grape thing and I’m not terribly sorry either because damn it, I really fucking love grapes.) I didn’t have much to spare since I’ve been lazy this week and didn’t bother with the grocery shopping, but I had a few things to hand that I thought was appropriate.
Everything I gave to Sekhmet last night was a form of sacrifice.
And I think that’s probably just as important as the rite itself, you know?
It’s all fine and dandy to give daily offerings. For me, it’s not really a bit of sacrifice to do it. I give cool water and the play food that I have on hand. But when it comes to doing the services I promised in her name, as well as when celebrating the myriad of festivals in her name, I feel that sacrifice needs to be in there somehow. Sometimes, it’s something small and minor – a bit of time, some energy. But when it comes to the bigger things, like rites can be, I think more sacrifice needs to be provided. So, I sacrificed everything I thought of that was good for me and knew that while it was a small meal, it would at least go over fairly well. I sacrificed peanut M&Ms, diet Coke, my precious Crystal Skull vodka, cheese, bread, an apple, and ‘Nilla Wafers. Later, I sacrificed them all right back into my gullet and enjoyed the feel of them there. (I didn’t bother to eat dinner in prep for the rite.) And while I didn’t end up “eating dinner” until 10:30 or so at night, I was at least pleasantly muzzy with the feel of all the things I had first given to my god and then later, given to myself.
For once, I didn’t have fresh flowers to provide to her. I did end up using a fair bit of the red rose petals I have stored in my fridge for these types of things. They’ve been in the refrigerator for almost two months now and some of them have started to turn. I was looking in the bag, pulling out the bright red ones to lay upon her altar, scattered artistically about. While I looked, I saw the brown of rot on some of them and pulled those out in the hopes that I could keep some of them for next month. As I pulled them out, the wetness of the interior of the bag clutched to my finger tips and the brown bits stuck a bit, too. I looked at my hand, feeling like my fingers were making love or something to the dead bits of petal, they were so thoroughly covered in the stuff. I thought about those flower petals, the blackened edges between the bright red and the brown of the death.
I thought Sekhmet would think that highly appropriate under the circumstances.Sometimes, I think that these rites and services are never going to go anywhere. I see a lot of repeat customers asking for the same things. When I’m writing the petitions, I will see the same things asked for amongst different people, but I’ve noticed a trend with some people; they always ask the same things. I wonder at those people, who put their faith in what I’m doing. I was doing a bit of wondering about them as I carefully flung brown petals from my fingertips into the trash, thinking about Sekhmet. I wondered if the brown bits on the petals wasn’t a bit of metaphor for them and their requests – the brown a hint of not fully grasping the seeds that they must plant in order to see their requests met or perhaps the brown a hint that they were on the right path and the shit would begin to decay before their eyes, breaking open the path to where they want to go – or maybe the metaphor was more about me than about their requests. I’m a bit of brown here and there, ragged black lines through my soul preventing the rot from reaching the bright red health of the rest of my soul.
Or maybe, I’ve been living too much with poetic sentiments and am only looking for something that is not there.
Either way, I culled the rotten petals from the bag, thinking that I should probably put them in another baggy for next month since I think there may be mold in the bag itself. Maybe I, too, am molding. Or maybe, the repeat customers’ obstacles are molding, ready to part beneath their forceful demands. I suppose it doesn’t really matter where the metaphor lies here. As long as it, maybe, gives comfort to those who need it.