Akhu Veneration 101.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that there aren’t a lot of 101 or guides out there for people looking to venerate some akhu. It’s difficult to try to emulate the rich worship going on in ancient Egypt in modern times – no tombs, no pyramids, no seventy days of mourning, no natron and bitumen, no walls carved and artfully decorated in a tomb, etc. But, when it comes down to brass tacks, really, the worship part is what we need to focus on. I think people at large and some Kemetics in part get caught up in the pretty pictures in all of the books. I’ve been guilty of it, but I’ve decided that just because I am recon-slanted doesn’t necessarily mean I have to lament the things I don’t have that are like ancient Egypt and celebrate the things I do have that are unlike ancient Egypt.

What is akhu veneration?
Specifically, akhu is the special word that Kemetics use to denote their ancestors, which actually translates as “shining ones.” It can also be translated to mean “spirit,” “ghost,” or “transfiguration.” (The last because when an akh is created, then it has been transfigured – passed the weighing of its heart and allowed, in ancient Egyptian belief, the ka and ba to merge to form the akh.) Each Kemetic is more or less specific about what akhu means, but when we are getting together and the word pops up, each of us speaking of our genetic heritage, the ancestors who created us to bring us into being today.

Now, when we venerate our akhu, it can either be intimated that we worship them as one does with the gods or that we revere them. Specifically, “venerate” is defined as to revere while “worship” is defined as reverent honor or homage paid. In a very technical sense, we could go so far as to say that I’m using a pretty fancy word here, veneration, when I could just as easily use worship. However, worship is a dirty word in post polytheist circles, so I tend to refrain from using it on a regular basis. It may, in fact, be what I do with the gods, but I cannot say that I worship my akhu.

My staples for feeding them are a mix of Kemetic staples and some things I’ve picked up in my research from Vodou. Obviously, you don’t need to follow my list exactly, but it’s a good start for anyone freaking the hell out. From the Kemetic side of things, I will leave flowers, bread, water, whole fruits, incense, booze, and candle light. The candles are usually the small tea lights and I will usually light it early on so I can make sure that grass fires don’t happen, but occasionally, I will leave one of those glass enclosed seven-day candles. From the Vodou side of things, I will leave roasted corn in the form of corn nuts – the spicier the better – and tobacco.

Who would be chosen as one’s akhu to venerate?
This is one of those questions that can be problematic and/or inherently personal.

Personally, when it comes to taking care of my Blessed Dead, I associate them with people who are my genetic ancestors, people who have absolutely no bearing on my genetic heritage but are still part of my family in some way, and people who I have never met, but who forged the area where I live into the metropolitan urbane area it is today. While I’m a rarity in choosing to include the graves I tend regularly as a part of my akhu, I’m not so rare in choosing to include those who are part of my genetic heritage and those who married into my family (and did not add to my genetic heritage). To me, all akhu are my akhu in a way – I do not pick and choose people from my family and if I were to research the histories of the people whose graves I tend, I would not pick and choose them, either.

You see, quite often in Kemetic circles, there will be specific people who are part of a person’s akhu who are left out. The reasoning behind why various Kemetics will leave people out is personal. They either will or will not share their reasoning, but I can tell you that the people who they leave out tend to be “assholes.” That’s a rather broad term for some souls who should have been killed off in the Duat with the horrors they inflicted upon their families, but it’s the best. Those people could be muuet (demonic beings) or their souls could have been dispersed. In either case, it is in the living person’s best interest to not interact with them at all.

I completely agree with this. In fact, I heartily support anyone who says that they cannot or will not add X to their akhu because of Y. As I said, these decisions are very personal for each practitioner. Who chooses whom is not an easy question and it really comes up to making the decision after – pardon the pun – a lot of soul-searching. But, all in all, when it comes to determining who you are or are not going to add to the list, you really need to think about it on your own. You need to decide if these are the ones you want to interact with and if not, you should know why so that you can tell that spirit – if they are an akhu and not a muuet – why you’ve made that decision.

Can pets be considered akhu?
I absolutely and one hundred percent believe that my pets are part of my akhu. Pets are a delicate thing for a lot of people, at least in America. There are people who view them as part of the family – as I do – and people who view them as “furniture” or “decorative pieces.” Since my pets have always been a part of my family, a four-footed sister or brother, daughter or son, they are absolutely honored when I venerate my akhu. To each their own, and all of that, but they’re part of my practice. While I don’t leave offerings for them as often as I do my human akhu, they’re included when I do rituals for my akhu.

How do you venerate the akhu?
Each person’s practice is going to be different when it comes to the how. We are no longer limited, in this country, by a heritage universally shared or similar. In ancient Egypt, this was never up for debate because they were all the same: if you were rich, you’d get a place to go to when you died and if you were poor, you may be able to work some fields on behalf of those rich people after you died. How the layman, or the poor man, was honored by their family has not come down to us [like everything else], but how it was done for the upper crust is not something we can emulate. We don’t have pyramids or tomb niches cut out of rock to visit. We can go to graves, but the grandeur of the Valley of the Kings is a far cry from the gravestones we may visit.

So, how? How do you go about this if you’re recon-slanted and trying to rebuild a modern practice?

You do whatever the hell feels accurate to you.

For example, I know a Kemetic, Zenith, who has Philippine ancestry and in honoring them, she tries to emulate veneration of the akhu from a Philippine perspective. When I work with my genetic ancestors, as they are all French and English, I tend to pull items from both sides to coalesce them into a single, cohesive, veneratin’-full unit. Some people who venerate their akhu do not take the racial or genetic history into account and just go to town. But others, such as myself and the Kemetic I mentioned above, will look to the heritage for answers to questions as well as suggestions on how to go about honoring our akhu.

While utilizing the heritage that your akhu stems from is a very simple matter, what it comes down to is a simple what feels right. If you feel it’s right to honor them based on where they come from in the world, then do so. If you’re a full-fledged American who doesn’t really see themselves as anything other than American, then go your own way. In either case, the how isn’t as important as the doing.

What do you offer the akhu?
In all actuality, when it comes to the leaving of offerings, it is highly dependent on where I am and what I am doing. What I offer when I am tending graves is similar to what I may offer when doing ritual to my akhu at home, but it’s not specifically the same. When I’m tending graves of either my genetic ancestors or the graves of my beautiful cemeteries, my first and only real purpose (especially if it is a cemetery where I have not built a connection yet) is to feed their souls. One hundred and thirty percent, my main goal besides cleaning, taking pictures, and telling them all who I am and what my purpose is* then my next goal is to make sure they are fed enough to be active when I come back for a visit.

* If you are entering a cemetery with the intention of grave tending and you have never, ever, ever, ever been there before, you have no connection with that place or those people. You need to announce what you are doing or else. The last time I failed to do that, my camera went to the big Scrap Pile in the sky. So, you absolutely announce to everyone – first thing – who you are, why you are there, and how you are not going to harm anything because you’re only goal is to please them.

Now, as far as leaving offerings, I have quite a few standard staples that I leave. Most of my staples stem from my Kemetic practice, but I have one or two that I leave from the snippets I’ve learned with my vodou practice. From the Kemetic perspective, I will leave flowers, whole fruit, incense, bread, water, booze, and candle light. The candles I usually leave as an offering are tea lights and white, for purity. I will usually try to light my candle earlier in my grave-tending, well before I am ready to feed their souls fully, so that I can be sure I do not cause a grass fire. Occasionally, I will leave the glass-enclosed seven-day candles but rarely. From my vodou practices, I will leave the spiciest damn corn nuts you ever did find – as a replacement for roasted corn, which appears to be a well-loved treat of the Guédé – and some tobacco. The Bawon and many Guédé prefer cigars, but I’m not so perfect and pay attention to the ecosystem, so I’ll leave a few tobacco leaves if I have any.

Where do you venerate them?
Quite often, people will build a shrine or altar space to their akhu, which is where most of the offerings, prayers, and communication happens. It’s easiest, really, to build a general place in your house so that you aren’t forced to use gas and go to graves to venerate. It’s all right there and you don’t have to go anywhere to get what you want done. This is easiest, not just because of the economy, but also because not a lot of people will live in the same area as their akhu. Pagan Pickle has told me that he lives to far away to visit graves on a regular basis and in the case of Zenith, her family members are in the Philippines, which isn’t exactly a hop, skip, or jump away from her in the United States.

All in all, an altar in your home is the easiest and fastest way to get started.

I’m lucky, however. I can go to the graves of my akhu with very little gas money wasted in the process. Literally, my father’s grave is right down the street. My paternal grandparents and paternal step-great grandparents are in the city next door. The myriad of family members on my mother’s side all tend to reside in the largest Catholic cemetery in my city. My maternal grandmother is in the local veteran’s cemetery (which is about a half hour from me) waiting for my grandfather to join her. Not everyone is as lucky as me, though. I can jump in the car on a Saturday (my chosen day for akhu work) and visit any one of them. And if I’m really inclined, I can drive the few hours to New Hampshire, eastern Massachusetts, or New Jersey to finish the larger array of ancestors I have.

However, I don’t just go to the cemeteries where my family members have been left. I also go to all of the older cemeteries in my area and tend those graves. I do this because, as I’ve said, my akhu is a bit more complicated than most in that I also honor the pioneers who cut out our swath of the country. While the things they did to the locals are horrific and unbearable in the eyes of [many] modern Americans, they are still to be honored for the sacrifices they made in creating this country, either for fighting for its independence or merely for creating a township that is still extant today. So, again, I go to the cemeteries and that’s how I get my veneration on.

What would you put on an altar for the akhu?
Altars to the akhu vary from person to person. You can go on to Fuck Yeah Altars on Tumblr and usually see an akhu shrine if you scroll back far enough. I’m uncertain but Shrine Beautiful may also have some akhu shrines thrown in there. All in all, if you look at someone else’s altar porn, then you may be able to get a few thoughts on what to add. If not, here are my recommendations.

If and when I do the altar thing for my akhu, the entire thing will be a shrine of pictures. Be careful that the picture only shows the person who you are honoring and no one living. (I can’t really remember the reason behind why we don’t add living people to our altar except that it’s “bad juju.”) If you don’t have access to pictures without other people in them – as I have found with my father – then get an item that reminds you of that person and place it on the altar as them. For my father, I would place a white-and-black plaid shirt as this was the type of shirt I associated with him. For my grandmother, I would use a replica kitchen table because she “ruled the world from the kitchen table.” (No, seriously.) Aside from that, an offering plate or bowl, a cup for libations, and some candle light should top it off.

When should you venerate the akhu?
As based on the Kemetic lunar calendar, there appears to have been miniature festivals for the akhu once a month. I haven’t integrated the lunar calendar into my Kemetic calendar, as yet, but it may happen in future. Aside from that, there are a few minor festivals of the akhu throughout the solar calendar that can also be celebrated. As my studies in regards to the Kemetic calendar have been put on hold while I get other projects done, I cannot say conclusively if there were larger festivals held in ancient Egypt that were for the akhu. I believe the Wag Festival is associated with the ancestors, but it later became conflated with a festival of Djehuti. The information I have pulled has been mostly based off of the Djehuti association.

I also celebrate Fet Guédé, which is on the second of November every year. My celebrations for this are for my ancestors, obviously, but I mostly go out to a cemetery and do a very private celebration. Not as fun-filled as the Bawon would like, but what to do when you are a solitary Vodouisant? From what I’ve read and from what I’ve seen in videos, this is a very large celebration for Haitians and my, herm, rather sedate celebration is not up to par.

Aside from those minor festivals and Fet Guédé, I actually celebrate my akhu fairly regularly. I go to the cemetery every Saturday when the weather is not snow or oppressive heat to spend time with either my genetic ancestors or the graves that I tend. They are always on my lips, always in my heart, and I spend a good deal of time each week talking to them and honoring them as I see fit. Not everyone can be as obsessive, I suppose, as I can be when it comes to my akhu, so I recommend looking to your calendar and integrating some festivals of the akhu to get into the swing of things.

Why do you venerate the akhu?
I’ve thought about this answer a lot since I began having thoughts that I needed to write this entry. I’ve discussed why we have the relationships we do with our gods, but I’ve never really thought about why we would venerate our akhu. From an outsider’s perspective, it may appear that we spend as much time thinking and discussing and celebrating our akhu because, well, that’s what the ancients did. And since a lot of us are recon-slanted or full-blown reconstructionists, then by golly, we’re going to recon the whole damn thing, ancestor veneration included. And in some circles, this may actually be the case. It may just be that someone has decided that the ancient Egyptians did it, so you know, it should be a part of their practice, whether they feel strongly about it or not.

In my practice, it really wasn’t a huge aspect for the longest time. I would go and visit and I’d think about things I wanted to do for my akhu, but my plans always fell apart or they fell short of the goal I had intended. It wasn’t until I began working with the Bawon and Papa that I began to realize that it wasn’t just about me and what I wanted, but it was about my akhu and what the fuck they wanted. And as silly and ridiculous and trite as it may sound, they just really don’t want to be forgotten. They want someone to tell others stories about them. They want someone to tell others about who they were. They want someone to tell others about what they liked. They want someone to just fucking make them live, however briefly, in stories, anecdotes, and in those people’s thoughts.

And that’s what it comes down to; that’s the why.

Kemetic Round Table: Doxa/UPG.

The Kemetic Round Table (KRT) is a blogging project aimed at providing practical, useful information for modern Kemetic religious practitioners. For all the entries relating to this particular topic, take a peek here.

I leave these entries to the last-minute because then I have a deadline and while I normally ignore deadlines, I actually enjoy this blogging project so I meet the deadline. The problem with this particular post, thus far, is the fact that we’re using the word doxa. Outside of a very limited community, I really don’t see this word used and I definitely do not use it. Point of fact, I had to look up the definition of the word – herm, not on Wikipedia – to figure out if it meant what I’ve always thought it to mean. According to Grammar About, the meaning is, “in classical rhetoric, the domain of opinion, belief, or probable knowledge–in contrast to episteme, the domain of certainty or true knowledge.” Honestly, I think this word is pretentious. We could just use “belief,” right? And we would say the same thing?

But, this particular post isn’t just about belief. It is also about our commonly thrown about acronym, UPG. This acronym means “unverified personal gnosis.” This term means that we have been given knowledge, or smidges of intuition, that we have incorporated into our practices. These bits of knowledge can just be things that we feel or items that the gods themselves have told us. For example, I start getting really powerful cardinal imagery when Hekate joined my household. It was later that I learned she actually is associated with cardinals in some way, but before I knew that, I considered it a bit of knowledge gleaned from communication with this particular deity.

Now, the thing is that in some circles, you will find that the term doxa is synonymous with UPG. However, I have to disagree with this. I feel that the two of them are not mutually exclusive. To me, one is based solely on believing in something while the other is based solely on knowledge gleaned from various arenas. While I can see the similarities between the two – with the various consensus among many polytheists being that the start of doxa was someone else’s UPG – I find myself incredibly leery of this frame of mind. Call me an outsider, or a weirdo, or just plain strange, but this isn’t how I go about my practice at all. I believe in what I do, but I also have outside knowledge gleaned from the gods that I have incorporated into my practice.

I suppose I’m just lucky that I don’t have to really start at the beginning to create a religion.

The thing about either of these terms, though, is that quite often in the Kemetic community, you get laughed out of a discussion if you use UPG or even begin to discuss beliefs. We can get down and dirty with our communal discussions about various items and nothing gets laughed out harder than even thinking about heading toward the “woo-woo” with said discussions. The problem here is that, all jokes aside, mysticism and “woo-woo” are part and parcel to reconstructed religions. Mysteries are often discussed, dissected, and discussed again in different polytheist circles. However, for some odd reason, aside from a few random comments about the Mysteries of Osiris, there doesn’t seem to be as much discussion on them in Kemetic circles… Huh. Maybe I’m just not around for those discussions.

In either case, Kemetics seem to be very dead-set against having “woo-woo” in their practices. I don’t see why this is the case. I’ve met up with quite a few Kemetics, who make up my community as it turns out, who do have “woo-woo” going on. They’ve mentioned that discussing it outside of our community is definitely “not a good idea” as they’ll get laughed at. They’ve either watched it happen or they’ve heard about it from other people. It doesn’t really matter who did what when or even why; the problem is that this frame of mind is exceedingly prevalent in the recon world of Kemeticism. And it really has no justification if we’re practicing a reconstructed ancient religion, which included “woo-woo” back then and should probably include “woo-woo” right now. Just because we can’t find what that “woo-woo” happened to be back in the day doesn’t mean that it didn’t exist or that the “woo-woo” being practiced today is any less valid than what was practiced thousands of years ago.

Now, I can understand walking into someone’s blog and reading a passage like,

I entered the Cave of Snot with a horse hide upon my back, a mace of frog legs in my hands, and ruby red slippers plus ten on my feet. I knelt before the god and said, “I am your servant.” Blah-di-blah. A bunch of “woo-woo” stuff enters here. Things so crazy and weird that you are just like, what the fuck am I reading? And you’re just like, what the hell man?

So you enter someone’s blog and you read a bunch of weird shit that just makes your rational brain sit up and say, Cut the shit. The thing is that whatever that entry is talking about, as crazy and weird sounding as it may be, it really doesn’t mean that what they’re doing is any less valid that what you may be doing. They’re practicing their “woo-woo” and you just happened to get to read about it. Does that mean we should laugh at them? No. Does that mean we should leave mean, snarky messages on their blog making fun of them? No. Am I saying that everyone with blog entries even remotely like anything wrote about in that quote is telling the truth? No. I believe there are con-artists in polytheism just as much as there are outside of it. However, until you can tell me that you have powers that let you know a con-artist upon meeting them, either in person or online, then you really shouldn’t say a fucking thing.

By making those snarky comments, you could be completely destroying an entire mystical practice in one fell swoop and possibly angering the god whose mystical practice that was.

Now, as far as allowing others’ “woo-woo” to influence your own, I think that’s kind of up to each particular practitioner. I really can’t say one way or another if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I know that when I read about others’ “woo-woo,” I think something like, Wow. They have a fulfilling practice, but it doesn’t have much bearing on what I do or don’t do. Mysteries aside, my “woo-woo” is incredibly fledgling and while I’d like to say that I have a rounded out and beautiful practice across all boards, I’m still learning.

And can’t say that in any context.

Festivals and Feasts 101

When it comes down to putting the books away in a recon-slanted practice or even a pure recon practice, a lot of us end up with quite a few problems. The biggest and most basic of problems tends to be, “how the hell do I do this?” When you go from writing about theory to actually doing, it can be a pretty frightening aspect. You’re so used to just thinking, well, one day… And then after a while, you get to the point where that one day finally appears and you’re left wondering how in the world you can do festivals, feasts, and celebrations in a modern context. While my calendar isn’t complete, I can tell you that it can be pretty hard figuring out how to go about and make an ancient festival really come alive in this day and age.

Here is how I go about this.

What is the celebration about?
From a Kemetic perspective, with the dearth of information regarding many festivals, this can be very difficult to discern. Unfortunately for us, not even academic feels the need to try to figure out what various festivals entailed or were even about. If they were specific to a nome, and the academic is writing a generalized book, they’re not going to include items that aren’t country-wide. In similar vein, if an author is focused on a specific cult of a deity, then they’re not going to discuss other types of feasts and festivals to make the point. Why clutter the initial point in the academia focused manuscript? This means that those of us with lesser known deities in our repertoire – Menhyt, Ihy, and Sokar, for example – and even those with well-known deities in our arsenal, may know that festivals in their deities’ names happened but we may not know what the specifics of their festivals are about.

But this is an important part to figuring out how to celebrate in a modern context.

As Miss Dirty explains in Living with the Earth, “What gets me the most is the undeniable lack of thought that goes into observing seasonally specific festivals/sabbats. If you’re celebrating a holy day, you’re celebrating a fucking concept, and that shit should be influencing your activities. Even if you’re doing nothing else but having a nice fucking meal on the day, the food should at least reflect and embody the core of the observance.” While her rant is specific to pagans and the Wheel of the Year, this is good, sound advice for recon-slanted polytheists. But, if we don’t know what the festival is about, how can we do this?

Take a look at the name of the festival to start with. Most of them are fairly straight forward. You see that most of them are “festivals” or “feasts” or “processionals.” This makes it inherently easy to figure out what they’re about. But, not every single one listed is so obvious as all of that. We have “Day of Answering Every Speech of Sekhmet,” “Sekhmet is Angry in the Land of Temhu,” and “Sekhmet Repels the Follows of Sutekh.” None of those three names make it easy or obvious to figure out what it’s about. There are others, not Sekhmet related, that have names that are equally difficult to discern the meaning behind them.

In those instances, it comes down to two questions that you must answer yourself. Is it worth the spoons to add this particular celebration to my calendar? If the answer is yes, then the next question is, Am I solid enough in my practice to allow UPG to enter and not give two iotas (or a handful, even) what others say about my UPG?

Who are or who is the prime netjer involved in this celebration?
If the celebration doesn’t have any of the key words in it (“festival,” “feast,” and “procession”), then it’s time to take a look at the netjer involved in the celebration. This is, of course, after you’ve been able to handle whether or not adding the celebration is really something you are willing to do and whether or not UPG is A-okay in your practice. As much reading as I do and as much recon-slant as my practices are, UPG is a pretty large focus in various arenas in my practice. No matter how much you read, if you don’t know German or have a good source, then you’re going to have to rely on your personal gnosis to get going.

So, once you know who the celebration is about, then it’s time to start plotting and planning items for that particular netjer. You’re not going to want to do a whole rite involving red meat, if you’re working with Hatmehyt, being a fish-related deity. You are not going to want to have a vegetarian style dinner if you are planning a feast with Sekhmet, Bast, or Mut. This comes down to common sense. (Obviously if you, yourself, having food restrictions, then perhaps focusing on other aspects of the deity that are not food related would be in your best interest.) If you have known associations with the deity either from a book or from your personal gnosis, then utilize those items while planning your celebration. You may want to wear carnelian during a feast of Sekhmet as that stone is associated with her or put on a red wig if you’re celebrating Sutekh.

Now, as far as food taboos in the ancient world, we can’t say for sure if this is accurate. The most common source on specific food taboos is Herodotus and whether that source is reliable is up to you, the practitioner. For me, he is not. There are allusions to the refraining of certain animal substances while a priest was preparing for their time with the netjer As I do not consider myself a priest, I do not consider the restrictions of a priestly caste to be important enough to follow. However, others who are Kemetic may feel that taboos are necessary. For example, some practitioners are specifically asked to refrain from certain food items. I know there is at least one person who was asked, by Sekhmet, to not eat red meat. It is possible that Hatmehyt would not want you to have fish related items in a feast to her because they could be considered her children. In this particular arena, it comes down to “your mileage may vary.”

Why should one bother celebrating this at all?
This is something that is entirely personal, depending upon the person looking to celebrate these festivities. The thing is that after a while, you get to the point where you’ve been talking about these things so long that you get sick of just talking. It equates to telling yourself you are going to run a marathon for years and then actually doing. It equates to telling yourself you are going to write a book about something for however long and then finally getting down to brass tacks and doing so. It equates to all the things you have said you were going to do and then finally actually doing. Discussing the theory and the idea and claiming that you are a Kemetic is fine and dandy, but there comes a point where the theory, the idea, and the claims need some happy back up. Enter in some festivities and your back up is there.

Here comes some UPG, people.

I tend to feel that the OTHERS™ require these kinds of services. I know that in some circles my opinion regarding the OTHER™ needing our attention with our celebrations, our prayers, and our offerings isn’t popular. But considering how much stuff tends to happen once you begin to pay attention to the OTHERS™, it’s very difficult (for me) to say that I’m just full of shit here. Not just the daily offerings, the prayers, and the thoughts about the gods, but with the actual addition of celebrating festivals in their honor, I have begun to feel more connected to them than I have in years. It’s fine and dandy, as I said, to claim a thing but it really does get solidified when you actually do a thing. And the same thing, in a way, for my UPG: You can claim that you have a relationship but it gets sussed out, filled out, what have you, when you actually get down and dirty with celebrations.

How would one go about celebrating these festivals?
All right, here are some pointers for people feeling overwhelmed by the “how.” Since you’ve figured out who the celebration is for and you’ve figured out why the celebration is happening, now you have to really sit down and plot out how to make those things come alive in a modern context. The only thing I take into consideration besides the “who” is the key words in the name of the festivity: Is it a feast, a festival, or a procession?

If you have a procession, then process the deity around your house. I did this, literally, with Sekhmet’s impression of the roamin’ Gnome during her processional celebration in January. I came home from work and deciding to just walk around with the statue, but I thought it would be even more fun if I took pictures. I debated about having her process her golden butt around the outside of my home, but the snow prohibited me from doing so. If I had been doing this in the middle of the day, with the sun out to aid me in rejuvenating ourselves, I probably would have done it anyway.

If it’s a feast day, then I plan a magnificent and sumptuous meal for those involved based on both UPG and historical context regarding the foods that would have been offered to the deity at their cult centers. (The exact foods for some cult centers may be difficult, but if you find something about that temple and the animals it raised at it, you should be able to figure out what types of meats, at least, were probably given to the god. While food taboo is a touchy subject, and long-winded so I won’t get into it here, use your UPG if you have to when discovering this. Ask the god, “Would you like X?” They should let you know in some form or another.

And lastly, if it’s just a festival then that’s up to you. For my last festival for Hetheru, I cleaned up her shrine area, renewed her daily offering, and did some crazy and ecstatic dancing on her behalf. Simple, easy, fast. It took me all of a half hour and some serious out-of-breathness before I felt like I had celebrated as she would have wanted me to. It’s not how long but a feeling of having done some well that alerted me to having completed the ritual as she wanted it.

Now, let’s be real here: having fun should be just as important as the solemnity involved. While I could have used my festival of Hetheru to sit around, pray, and just generally be boring, I didn’t. The same thing for the procession of Sekhmet. Instead of being boring, I took it to a fun place. Part of the reason why I think having fun is more important than the solemnity is because I do not consider myself a priest of my gods. I consider myself a lay person who is building a personal relationship of worship to a bunch of kick ass beings that, for some reason, pay attention to me. And that means that I don’t have to do the whole “hair removal, fasting, etc” thing before I start celebrating. And that means that having fun? It’s part of the package.

Vacationing OTHERS™ (PBP).

A quick note before I begin: I would just like to apologize for my dearth of posts this week. I just started a new job as a temp at a local insurance claims facility and it’s kicking my ass. It’s not because I’m not still religiously oriented or that I’m having a Fallow Time, it’s just that time and energy are escaping me while I get back into the work flow.

Sometimes, as a polytheist, you get to a point where the OTHERS™ you have a working relationship with take a kind of “vacation,” of sorts. A lot of times, personally, I tend to misconstrue this as a Fallow Time – one of those periods where religion takes a backseat. However, when an OTHER™ is taking time off from you, this doesn’t necessarily mean you or I are in a Fallow Time. So, let’s talk about what happens to me (and so, you know, you can base yourself off of this if you so desire) what happens when the OTHERS™ take a vacation.

When will an OTHER™ go on a “vacation”?
This is one of those questions that are actually specific to the OTHER™ in question. There are numerous responses that could be considered appropriate and numerous responses that could be considered wild guesses in regards to this query. The thing is that we don’t know when something like this will happen. We can assume it will, at some point in our lives, but we cannot always know when it will actually occur. Unfortunately, as much as divination may be part and parcel to the religion you practice, you can’t know in the future when an OTHER™ will be taking a break from you. If they wanted you to know in advance, they’d probably send you the OTHER™ version of an E-mail or voicemail about the thing. In the mean time, let’s talk about the “when” question and cycles.

You see, I’ve come to notice that when it comes to my OTHERS™, I have specific times of the year where contact is more pronounced, or louder, if you will. (What I mean by louder is that Papa Legba gets quieter in my head as opposed to leaving off entirely.) So, in my practice, I tend to find that the communication thing goes in and out via cycles, which are directly related to the time of the year. Now the specific reason behind this cyclical thing, I’ll get into later (or at least, theorize about it later), but in the mean time, I can tell you that I hear from Sekhmet and Hetharu less and less as autumn and winter culminate. In the mean time, I’m lucky enough to have “off time” OTHERS™ to take up their spaces, in the forms of Papa Legba and Hekate. So while Hetharu and Sekhmet get quieter and quieter or their communication becomes sparse, the other two fill in the hole.

Now, not all OTHERS™ are obviously cyclical. For example, I honestly don’t understand why I hear Papa Legba more pronouncedly in the winter time than I do in the summer time while I understand the slack in communicate in winter from my goddesses. Again, I’ll theorize about this further on, but in the mean time, I just wanted to get out there that sometimes, the OTHERS™ don’t really have a rhyme or reason as to why they go on a vacation at specific time.

Rest assured that it isn’t just you. They have their reasons and they’ll either tell you about them or otherwise when they get back. Now as for the OTHERS™ that don’t hold to specific cycles as clearly cut as mine do, there could be a couple of reasons for this. However, the one thing I want to get into specifically in this section here is that keep calm, cool, and collected here. Just because an OTHER™ goes off on walkabout doesn’t mean that you are doing something wrong or that you fucked up along the way. It just means that they went on walkabout.

When can I expect my OTHER™ to come back?
Unfortunately, this is yet another one of those questions that people have that are pretty much unanswerable. As I said above, as much as divination may play a large part in your religion that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be given even a second of an inkling as to when they will leave or when they will return. They will come back or at least send you their version of the E-mail, as I mentioned before. (I tend to think of OTHERS™ as not very rude, but big sticklers on formality, which is why I mention that they will probably let you know what’s going on at some point or another. Whether or not you realize that you are receiving a message, well that’s a whole different ball park.)

The thing that we tend to forget about the OTHERS™ is that they are, you know, more powerful beings than we are. So, while we may have a perceived schedule of events in regards to our religion, they don’t even remotely care. It’s not because they don’t have emotions in regards to us or that they’re emotionless creatures that are just levels above us (as evidenced, clearly to me, by the Greek gods, themselves…). It’s just that they are indefatigable in what they are doing that we may not be aware of and that they are, well, you know, OTHERS™. And that does, indeed, mean that their motive may be miles and miles above where we are on the ladder of life or whatever you want to call it. It’s not that they don’t care, okay?

So, again, I have to rehash what I said above. When an OTHER™ disappears, don’t just freak out that they’re never coming back. Don’t immediately assume that you did something wrong. Don’t immediately start crying and freaking out at your altar or in prayers (or both). The OTHERS™ are the OTHERS™ are the OTHERS™. They do what they want and when they want it. So, as much as we may have a perceived timetable, they probably aren’t going to abide by it. They will come back when they come back.

How will I know an OTHER™ is going on “vacation”?
I don’t really think that there is any sure-fire indication than an OTHER™ will be taking a time out. It’s not a very clear-cut process all the time. I consider myself very lucky in this that I have gods that are cyclical. (And of course, as I said, I will get to that later.) However, sometimes, it just happens.

Obvious signs are obvious: lack of communication, feeling like you’re in a case of the druthers for that lack of communication, etc.

Whenever I start to feel like my goddesses are doing their vacationing thing, I have a kind of depression for a week or so. It’s not that they aren’t there to hear me out or anything, but I just feel less connected than I usually do. And this ends up leading to a kind of depression period that tends to last about a week [for me]. Some of the other signs about this can also be directly related to real life. One of the things people tend to forget when the mundane gets in the way is that it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to head into a Fallow Time. It could just be a type of signal from your OTHERS™ letting you know that you have to take care of A, B, and C before you can get back on track.

Other signals can and do include communication via your divination weapon of choice. I use Tarot cards and oracle decks almost exclusively to work with my OTHERS™. So occasionally, I’ll get a bunch of cards that mean it’s time to take a step back, rethink some things, and then come back to it from a different perspective. I’ve never gotten a card, specifically, that said “HEY I’M TAKING A VACA; I’LL CALL YOU WHEN I GET BACK,” but you never know. Pulling runes or using other types of divinatory oracles are another avenue you can explore when it comes to getting that precog moment where you realize it’s getting time for the OTHER™ in question to take back.

As a side note to signals and signs: I feel that I should add that you cannot discount messages from outside sources. I’m not talking about the divination in as much as I’m talking about some random person contacting you out of the blue and saying, “Hey, OTHER™ X just notified me that they’re taking a break from you for a while.” While I have had some of my UPG verified by outside sources in various capacities, I’ve never had one of my OTHERS™ utilize another as a conduit for communication. (But wouldn’t that be kind of neat if they did?) However, I have known of it happening to people, both as conduits and as people who have received messages from outsiders. So, while you would probably prefer to stick to yourself in regard to this situation, don’t necessarily discount outside messengers.

Why do the OTHERS™ go on a “vacation”?
Okay, so this is really the meat and potatoes of this post. Whenever it comes to the OTHERS™, one of the main types of questions some of us older practitioners tend to receive are “why”. And who doesn’t want to know why? We get these types of questions from kids all the time. “Why is the sky blue?” “Why do I have to go to bed?” “Why can’t I paint poop on the walls?” Lots and lots of times, you’ll hear or see me go, “why is this happening?” I think it’s pretty much natural, as human beings, to constantly ask why. So, let’s wade through this mountain of possibilities.

As I said, my OTHERS™ are almost entirely cyclical. My two main deities, Sekhmet and Hetharu, are solar deities. So, it tends to make sense that these Kemetic goddesses would be more able and intense in their communication with me when it comes to spring, summer, and early fall. The sun is shining; the heat is profound; and everything is in bloom. All of these are aspects that I tend to associate with my goddesses anyway, being solar deities. Especially in regards to Sekhmet, who is an Eye of Re (also known as the super solar deity), it makes absolutely perfect sense that I get a deeper and more fulfilling connection with her in the summer months. In like fashion, we have Hekate who is an opposite of sorts to my Kemetic deities. She tends to be more associated with the autumnal and winter months, so when it comes to communicating, it seems to make a lot of sense as to why I have a more intense connection with her (and darker deities, besides) in the winter months.

As I said earlier, in the land of Papa Legba, I’m unsure. I have my theories, but I really can’t comment. As a crossroads lwa, he serves similar function to Hekate. However, he is lwa and I haven’t read too much on them being specifically associated with timing or cycles. I mean, certain lwa will obviously have a more direct connection with nature and so, therefore, it’s possible relationships will end up being cyclical. However, Papa Legba is a kind of alpha and omega in the lwa world. He opens up communication with other lwaas well as stirs shit in your life. So, aside from his perceived lack of cycles, my only possibility is that I tone him down in summer months so that I can pay more close attention to Sekhmet and Hetharu. It’s a guess, of course, but it is possible to kind of tune out some kinds of OTHERS™ so that you can focus on communication with other kinds of OTHERS™.

Now, so, we can take perceived communication outages as cyclical. Obviously, your mileage may vary and it really does depend on the OTHER™ in question. Some are more clear-cut and obvious than others: Persephone, Demeter, and gods that are inherently tied to cycles. However, there are deities that aren’t so neatly tied up and wrapped into a bow. In cases like that, we have to start sifting a little deeper for the reason behind this.

I tend to view it in a general sense. Since I do work with cyclical OTHERS™, I have less need to take a broader view here. However, I tend to believe that when an OTHER™ goes on vacation, we should probably also pay attention to how wide-spread their following is. While we read a lot of blogs about Loki followers and the like, we have to assume that Loki can’t be in all places at once. (Then again, when it comes to Loki, one never really knows.) I think a large problem here is that we tend to come into polytheistic belief systems from an Abrahamic background. This makes it difficult to disassociate the OTHERS™ with the omniscient, omnipotent YHWH from the Abrahamic side of things. We can’t just assume that the OTHERS™ are able to be in all places at once, able to know things at all times.

And again, maybe they need to take a break. We don’t know what happens on their plane of existence. We don’t know what they’re going through, who they’re hanging with, how many followers and worshipers they may have. We just don’t know. And even though you may have a more personal relationship with the OTHER™ in question that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not going to need to take a time out.

So to sum up: OTHERS™ take time off. They do so for various reasons. They will come back when they so desire. And at some point, they will probably let you know in some form or another what’s going on. It’s just a matter of keeping your mind open, your eyes peeled, and keep on keepin’ on when things go quiet.

Newbies Make Mistakes.

Evidently, after my patented “Newbies Need Help” post, the message was received by all the people who agreed with me. This is great! That says, to me, that there are people out there with a like mindset, that helping is infinitely preferable than coming off as a raging douchecopter. Unfortunately, the post didn’t reach as big of an audience as it should have because there are still people out there who think behaving like raging douchecopters is the way to go. They think that treating people like shit will get the point across just as effectively as sending a quiet message to try to encourage the person to see the light of day. I’m sorry, but running into a situation with your holier-than-thou stick is not the way to teach kids the lessons they would have learned if not practicing a solitary, pagan practice. So, let’s get to the point here.

Newbies make mistakes.

I know this is kind of shocking and surprising, but it’s the absolute truth. A lot of pagan newbies are running around without any kind of sources aside from what they may find in a local library or what they may find online. We all know that everyone and anyone can make a website nowadays and fill it with whatever information they so desire. This means that dissemination of information may not be up to the standards of some of us older, more experienced pagan solitaries out there. But, you know what? The newbies really don’t know any better. I’m sure they are consciously aware that anyone can make a website and fill it with whatever filth and shit they may desire to put on there, but they’re not going to be aware that the website they’re getting their information from is incorrect or just completely stupid if you don’t tell them. And why is that? Because they make mistakes.

And as I’ve mentioned a time or two before, it’s pretty fucking important to learn from our mistakes, but to also go into this knowing that you’ll make them. It’s a part of the learning process. However, not part of the learning process is this sudden desire to “stick it to” the person who is the middle of the mistake. And really, it’s not quite that these pagans who are older, wiser, and so should, therefore, know better, are “sticking it to” the mistake-wielding newbie but that they’re so gung-ho on teaching in the most asinine, horrific, and morally reprehensible way possible. I’ll cite an example I watched unfold before my very eyes.

A very young Wiccan made a broadly generalized declaration that the reason they loved paganism so much was because it was must more free and truth-filled than the fake Christians they are used to associating with. I thought the post had a bit of merit, but I also felt like, you know, it wasn’t all the truth. Still, whatever. The Wiccan made the comment and then a bunch of older and wiser pagans decided to leap down the person’s throat with the intention of showing them the mistakes. They came wielding baseball bats when a simple, “Hey, that’s not exactly true. Assholes come in all different shapes and sizes and religions,” would have sufficed. Since the young Wiccan was attacked, the Wiccan backslid and apologized. This galvanized the older and wiser crowd to come back down upon them with bigger and heavier and harsher words. This made the youngster backslide further and then try to explain the viewpoint they were hoping they had shared. This was, again, not taken very lightly because yet more people bitched the poor thing out instead of saying something firmly like, “Assholes come in all different shapes and sizes and religions.”

In this particular instance, the real mistake was that the Wiccan made a broad generalization because they are not able to communicate effectively with local pagans. Since this person cannot co-mingle with other pagans and Wiccans, they are unaware that pagans can be assholes and fake just as much as any Christian out there. The further mistake was when the older and wiser crowd felt the need to punch that person in the face with the knowledge that assholes truly are alive and well in every religion, including paganism. They made this apparent with their holier-than-thou sticks ready to wield as weapons instead of calmly correcting a mistake. This is not how you fucking teach someone from their mistake. And in fact, is probably the best way to get them to stop practicing because all you’ve done is shown them that co-mingling with other pagans may not be in their best interest because if they make a mistake, they will be called to the carpet when a simple explanation would suffice.

As a parent, I can tell you that this is the most ineffective and asshole way to teach your kids. And as an older and wiser pagan, I can tell you that this is the most ineffective and asshole way to teach newbies in the field. When my son thinks it would be interesting to touch the wood burning stove in my in-laws’ basement, I explain to him firmly why this is not in his best interest. I don’t come down on him like a ton of bricks and beat him senseless to try to convey how worried and fearful I am about him being around a wood burning stove. In all likelihood, he will probably make the mistake of touching said wood burning stove. And while he will be punished for not listening after I have told him something, I’m still not going to take out a baseball bat and beat him senseless for not listening. I am going to correct the mistake as a parent. That’s something that older and wiser pagans need to take into account. Otherwise, I really despair, not only for the youngsters entering paganism and being taught in such a horrific way, but also for their children.

The thing is that youngsters make mistakes. They touch the wood burning stove after being explained why they shouldn’t. They spout out broad generalizations because they are excited and think that this bubble that they are in is the way it is for everyone.

Young pagans don’t know that not every pagan is open, honest, and truthful. Young pagans don’t know that because they chose Wicca as a religion then they don’t have to eschew colors and become goth. Young pagans don’t realize that not every pagan religion is the same. Young pagans don’t realize that website or forum X may not be the best place for them to congregate because the information is full of bullshit or is beyond the 101 they need. Young pagans don’t realize these things because they are young and they are new and they need someone there to hold their hands and explain this stuff to them. Not to post asshole pictures stating what some older and wiser pagans would consider “the obvious.” Not to post snarling, snarky commentary about what a fool they are for making X statement. Not to post bitchy, self-entitled rants about how stupid someone is for doing X in a spell when “clearly” that’s not how it should work. By doing this, you are doing a disservice to the new person in question and you are doing a disservice to yourself.

You’re coming off as an asshole.

We should all stop and look and help and prod the younger generation. Personally, I do this because it feels good to be able to give information to younger pagans. I love it when I get questions about where to research information on the Internet and what books they should consider purchasing. The feeling I get is beyond words. I feel good about myself and about my practice that I am someone who someone else can turn to, ask this question, and get substance in a response instead of fodder. And if the feeling good part isn’t enough to make some of these older and wiser pagans to sit up and help out, then think about it this way.

Most pagan religions are too young to have had generational followers thus far. I was born into Catholicism and raised Methodist. Other people I know who are practicing pagans are also coming from one of the Abrahamic faiths, seeking something more fulfilling. By being a complete and utter fucking douchebag to these newbies, you are scaring them off. You are sending them away. You are making it so that your own fucking religion will not survive. You are suffering from misanthropy instead of helping to foster a community so that we can stand together and face down all the asshats that think we’re evil Satanists that promote, well, more evil. In all honesty, all you’re fucking doing is killing off everything you’ve been fucking working on for however long you’ve been on this fucking turnpike.

So, my advice here is to get off your high fucking horse, eat a bar of chocolate, and stop thinking that your shit doesn’t stink.

You made mistakes just as much as any newbie you’ve verbally assaulted.

And that’s part of the whole fucking learning process to begin with.

How I Got To Know My Land Spirit.

So, I was asked about my working with my land spirit the other day since someone I know is interested in getting to know hers. She wanted to know what I did and how I got into it. I’ll admit, this was a question that, at the time, I didn’t fully answer because I was deep in the thick of my own shit at the time. I kind of pawned it off by referencing her to a Fae Guide a friend of mine wrote and left it at that. I felt kind of like a douche for pawning it off because I always try to tell everyone that if they have a question, I will do my best to answer it as honestly and seriously as I can. However, sometimes, emotions get in the way of wanting to be helpful to others, I guess, and in that moment, I fobbed it off. I’m going to reiterate here that I try not to do that and that is why I’m writing this guide of sorts. I felt like a jerk for doing that and this is kind of like my own, personal peace-offering with myself. So, let’s get started!

I began wanting to work with the land spirit where I live from the second that I moved into this apartment complex. However, things were kind of hard at first. I went from living in someone’s basement, surrounded by land in every direction and never having to actually work at fostering a kind of connection. At my in-law’s home, where I was living before moving to this complex, there is land all over the place and in the back and in the front and it is well taken care of. The land spirits there are happy and cheerful and love it when I walk around in the back forty, just admiring the trees and the leaves and the detritus left behind from having so many trees and leaves. They like it when I stop to smell the roses (literally) and they’re just pleased that the land is so well taken care of and well loved. (TH’s mother is a horticulturist so it stands to reason that her home and its land would be well provided for.) They flaunt their stuff all over the place, all throughout the year. So, in moving to an apartment complex, I was moving to a smaller patch of land and one that I didn’t have any rights to. I mean, I had no rights to my in-law’s home and their land, but TH’s mom loved that I would spend time out of doors just admiring and being generally nice to the land.

There are days, even now, when I still feel more of a powerful connection with that land than I do with where I live now.

The thing is that the land spirit was angry and upset. I’ve mentioned about the land issues when we first moved in. Part of the reason that getting to know the land was so hard wasn’t just because of the shit that was in my own head (which I’ve remarked upon repeatedly and re-wrote down in one of the links provided below) but that the yard was very open and anyone could watch me. The neighbors that used to live here were all very “keep to themselves” people but they also spied on you. Or they were outdoors with their kids, so doing what I do now would have been discussed behind my back and not to my face because that’s the kind of people they were. (Don’t get me wrong, they were nice to a point, but they were very much gossip-mongers.) As the years past and those people moved out, I stopped caring. People are pretty friendly around here but they leave you to yourself for the most part. Besides, if no one called the cops on me when I soaked the keystone in the yard (a marker to denote the division of borders between the village I live in and the twon next door) with rum after placing keys and pennies on it, I’m not worried about it much anymore.

Sometimes, getting to know the land spirit has to do with not worrying about what other people will think of you.

Of course, I understand that as a full-fledged adult, I have a different perspective. I don’t have to worry about family members shooting me odd looks and I don’t have to worry about neighbors shooting me odd looks because, “frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” My world, my rules, my practice.

The first step to getting to know your land spirit is to, you know, actually make an active decision to do so. It’s one thing to make an active decision to do so on a patch of land or in a park somewhere, but a whole ‘nother kettle of fish to make that active decision when it comes to where you live. In a forested area or in a park, it’s not your land. There will be someone else who can come along and devote offerings. There will be someone else who feels a connection with the land if you don’t show up to do what you want to do at a given point. And hell, you don’t have to go back to that spit of land the next time you make a foray into working with a land spirit – you can choose a completely different place if you are so inclined. However, when you make the conscious decision to work with the land spirit where you live, this is an on-going project that you can’t put down because you feel like it. If the land spirit isn’t happy, then you know, you probably won’t be either. This isn’t a book you can put down or a god you can ignore for a while: this is where you live and the well-being of the land spirit is intrinsically tied to you and what you do for it. So keep that in mind before you decide, “I’m going to do that, too, because it’s so cool!”

The next step is to just go outside and be.

That may sound ridiculous and kind of silly, but it’s what I did to get started. When the spring hit and the weather became peaceful and bright again, I would go outside multiple times a day and just sit. I would just be. I would look around me and marvel at the growth of the grass now that the grass wasn’t being cut every week just an inch too short. I would marvel at how green and ripe it was. I would watch as the trees began to really start to grow and the leaves would unfurl. As I’ve mentioned, my previous landlady would keep the trees cut very short to the point where birds could not roost within and the leaves barely grew. But, in the going outside and looking and marveling and enjoying the new feel to things (it’s amazing how much change happened the second the new landlord bought the property and told me I could have free reign over the land), I was able to feel the beginnings of a connection. That’s how I got started.

My next step wasn’t just to go out and sit and be, but to go out barefoot and shuffle in the grass. I would take my dogs outside with me and my son. We would all run around in the thick, green, verdant grass barefoot. This, I think, was essential to the connection-forging. In visualizing, centering and all of that jazz, they will tell you to “be a tree.” In the aiding of this, they will tell you to go outside, barefoot, and feel the earth to try and get close with nature and “be a tree.” I kind of subconsciously used this in my forging a connection. I would shuffle around barefoot in the grass and stare around like a creeper. I’m. Not. Joking. I would stare intently at a patch of grass as I went shuffling around my grass barefoot. This helped me to build more connection with the land as well as to feel its change beneath my feet. It was only after I had done this throughout most of the summer that I began to feel tugged, so to speak, to meet up with the land spirit.

The big moment when I began intentionally working on what to do to get to know my land spirit was about the time I began rolling around in the grass. And also that one time when I did a little working for Wep-Ronpet in my yard. It dawned on me as I was working with my gods out of doors that my shuffling, rolling around, and being a general land-creeper was all well and good, but maybe I should do more. In effect, this meant that I had to start figuring out what the land spirit would want. I figured offerings were a good way to go. I also noticed how fast the incense cone I had used to help purify the god statues I was working with burnt down really fast. This meant that, maybe, offerings were the way to go here.

Currently, this means that once a month I go out and leave apples for the land spirit. I also leave out bread because, you know, what birds and squirrels don’t like eating bread leftovers? The land spirit seems pleased with this but would like more. (I keep getting rocks as a recommendation from other people when I talk to them about this as well as, you know, seeing a pile of rocks in my head when I’m outside and trying to commune with the land spirit. So, I’m going to bet here that, you know, it wants some rocks.) It’s very reminiscent, to me, in working with the gods. You have faith that they are there and listening and that they desire something and you’ll get hit with what that desire is at some point or another. In similar fashion, I get similar feelings from land spirit.

The only other thing I have to add is that the person who inspired this post did mention about worrying about possums and raccoons. I told that person that I don’t worry about it and here’s why. Humanity encroached on nature, of which both possums and raccoons and skunks, are a part of. We came in, built our homes, forgot about working with the earth and nature, and have since labeled such creatures as health hazards and nuisances. They are not. They are part of the natural order, which includes working with land spirit. If a raccoon likes the apples I leave out, then they are welcome to them. If a skunk eats the bread I leave out, then it is welcome to it. This is part and parcel of working with land spirit. You don’t worry about the animals eating up offerings left behind in parks and wooded areas, so why should you worry about it just because of where you live? You shouldn’t.

I will mention one other thing that has helped me here besides friends and Google searches and gut instinct here. I have a single area that I focus most of my intent when I am actively cultivating time with the land spirit. This is a particular tree that seemed to get the worst of the removal process when the landlady would cut the trees back. It would be very small and without any leaves for months and months, but they would continue to snip it back. Since the new owner came in, this tree has flourished since the “pruning back process” has stopped. (More like decimation process.) Since this tree has achieved more in the last few months than some of the other trees in the yard, I have used this as a focal point for where I leave my offerings and where I talk to the land spirit.

Yes, I talk to the land spirit regularly.

To me, it’s not so different from working with the gods and the ancestors. It just has a different “temple” so to speak.

Relevant Posts

  1. Working With Land Spirit.
  2. Working with the Fae by Devo.
  3. Land Spirits by Dver.
  4. The Curious Case of American Land Spirits by The Druid of Fisher Sheet.
  5. Land Spirits…at Patheos.

Kemetism 101.

So, since I put myself out there, I’ve gotten a few people asking me how to go about this religion thing. I get questions about general religions (how do you know…) as well as questions specific to Kemetism (where do I start…). I’m actually, always, startled when I get asked this question and then go stupid for twenty minutes. But since I am one of the few vocal Kemetics out there, it makes complete sense as to why I get asked. What makes less sense is that I don’t have a starter going yet. So, based on my own experiences with this, I’ve gone ahead and done the cray-cray: Kemetism 101.

Where do I begin?
I’m going to sound like an old record here… or like a CD with scratches all over it for those of you too young to remember records skipping, but the biggest and most powerful bit of advice here is research. Now, this particular bit of advice can be used in any context when you’re first entering a religion. The reason I’m touting about it now and being such a pain in the ass about this is because this (where do I begin?) is pretty much the first question someone is going to ask themselves when they discover a new religious path that they want to follow. And how are you supposed to learn anything if you don’t do the basic legwork of researching the religion in question? While I can’t comment much on Norse or Celtic based religions, I can, of course, tell you about my journey and path into research when I first became entranced with the idea of Kemetism.

Part of the point in this research shtick, too, is to make sure that Kemetism (or Celtic polytheism, druidry, Asatru, Hellenismos, et al) is really what you are sure about practicing. I might sound like a preach-y preacher here, but up and changing your religious practice every couple of months because it doesn’t feel right has got to get old and tiring after a while. And, you know, quite possibly expensive if you feel the need to buy stuff relating to X religion all the time only to change your mind months later. I’m not saying that adding aspects to your [set, solidified] practice is wrong. And I’m not saying that people who delve into other areas of study to further their current practice is wrong, either. What I am saying is that you can’t look at this as a form of “play acting” or as a form of “this will do.” You have to be sure. You aren’t just looking for interesting things to fill up your time; you are creating a RELIGION for yourself. That takes a lot of hard work. That takes a lot of guts. That takes time and time and time. Ask anyone who has been doing this for a while and we’ll all tell you that this isn’t easy, that this isn’t simple, and that this is a years’ long process you will be starting out on.

Just by looking up the mythologies associated with the ancient form of the religion you are interested in, you can get a pretty good idea about whether or not you want to delve any deeper. I knew from the get-go that ancient Egypt was where my religious practices were going to lie. This is because, since high school, I had been obsessed with learning about it in some form or another. I had books upon books about the 18th Dynasty filling up my historical library. I loved everything about it, so I knew that ancient Egypt was going to be a big figurehead when I started out. But, not everyone is as obsessed with history as I can get. (Yes. I am obsessed with history. I used it all the time in various conversations and to prove points people don’t realize can be made.) So, by looking into the mythologies, you can get a feel for the gods you are looking to worship and you can decide if they are beings that you feel comfortable working with.

And that is very important, by the way. You shouldn’t choose gods because everyone else is doing it. You shouldn’t choose gods because you think it’s the cool thing to do. You shouldn’t choose gods because you have an ancestor or three who worshiped them. You should do it because you are comfortable giving your time, energy, loyalty, love, hatred, sadness, pain, happiness, and any other combination thereof to these gods. (Yes, it is possible to go through a point where you absolutely hate what it is the gods want you to do and you take it out on them. I know I’ve been there and I’ve done that and hey, look at that. I’m still a Kemetic.) This path isn’t about what your friends are doing or what you think may be a good idea. This path is about you.

I’ve looked at the myths and this is for real; where do I go from here?
Guess what? It’s time for more research. I really wasn’t joking when I said I was going to be repeating myself quite a bit here.

Now, when I first started out, I had no idea that Kemetism was an actual religion. I started out with the idea that because of my general obsession with ancient Egypt to that point, I wanted to use it in some context. Let’s also remember that I was coming into this with a Wiccan context as opposed to a recon context. In looking up Wicca and whatnot, I stumbled onto the Wiki page about Kemetism. And this opened my eyes to whole new avenues of what to do. There were temples. And this said, loudly, to me that I wasn’t the only person in the history of ever that wanted to have a religion that was a construct, a revival, or a reconstruction of what had come before. I’ll tell you, the moment I discovered that I was near ecstatic and pretty damn awed, too. I believe there may have been dancing involved. I do, in fact, know that I was so very excited and I had no one to share it with. This is part of the reason why I have a blog now, but that’s a story for another day.

(Now, someone reading this in passing may wonder why I didn’t know anything about this prior, I’m going to admit here that at the time of discovering this, I lived in a small town of a very Christian background. I had been told about Wicca from a police officer friend of mine who didn’t like the male-oriented religion of his southern roots. And apart from this, I had been raised in a family with heavy Catholic roots and went to a Methodist church as a kid. So, aside from the Internet, I had very little access to books or people who would have like-minded viewpoints up to this point.)

So, from there, I had whole avenues to explore. There were temples to look into, Wicca-basis to look into, and a solitary approach to look into. In doing basic Google searches for Kemetism, I found forums of like-minded individuals, more specifically The Cauldron, AKA TC, which had a plethora of information on this stuff. So, at the beginning, you could say that while I had a general feel and idea about what I wanted to do – work with a religious frame work that had to do with my obsession with ancient Egypt and its gods – I didn’t know quite what to do from there. Did I want to join a temple? Did I just want to e-stalk forums? Did I want to go my own way? So many possibilities, but I wouldn’t have known about them if I hadn’t done one measly Google search to get me going. And that is why doing the research is very important.

What do I decide now?
As I said, there are a lot of different types of Kemetism out there, which means that there are literally hundreds of different ideas and beliefs out there that relate to ancient Egypt in a current religious frameset. It comes down to what works for you and what won’t work for you. And again, I hate to say it but I’m just going to keep repeating myself until I’m blue in the face anyway, it’s time you did some more research.

When I first discovered that there were actual temples out there, I immediately felt that I should head in that direction. The main reason for this is because I knew that this was going to be a long process, but I am inherently lazy. (There’s part of the reason why it’s taken me three years to hammer out a calendar for myself.) In working with a temple of some kind, I would have a community to rely upon, ideals already set in place, and other aspects that I cannot enumerate on because I do not associate nor work with temples. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the reason I fell out of this belief is because I looked up each temple.

Now, some of them, I could reject out of hand – there’s one about the Aten (Akhenaten’s supreme god that I already knew a lot of since, you know, obsessed with the 18th Dynasty here). That didn’t fit what I wanted. If I wanted monotheism, I would continue with my exploration of the Abrahamic faiths. Since none of those were interesting to me, I didn’t think that even a slight change to the program – an ancient Egyptian deity in place of YHWH or God or Elohim – was really up my alley. I believe another temple that I stumbled on had to do with black supremacy in regards to the ancient Egyptian religion. As a white woman, this didn’t seem like it would work for me. But, there were other temples to look into as well: KO, Church of the Eternal Source, and the Akhet Hwt-Hrw.

After looking into all of them, there were various reasons why I rejected them. However, this may not be the case with others who are looking into this path as a serious religion. You may see something on the House of Netjer website that fits for you. You may see something at Akhet Hwt-Hrw that you find interesting. (I tried to find the link to this website so that people could look into this after reading this post or while reading this post, however the website listed on the Wiki Kemetism page is shown as “being suspended.” You can also do Google searches for Kerry Wisner and the books out should, at least, pop up.) In every possibility, there were things to look into and research. That’s something that is entirely based on what you, as a neophyte, is specifically looking for.

What if I want to do a solitary practice?
As someone who is solitary and who knows a lot of solitaries out there, I’m going to tell you that this is pretty damn difficult path you are choosing. I’m not saying it’s impossible because myself and others have managed it and are proof that it does work, but if you are really serious that nothing related to any Kemetic temples out there holds you, then it’s time to get ready to get your hands and mind dirty. I tend to feel that a solitary practitioner is getting ready to not just walk the path of our religious lives, but to also go running around in mud puddles while we’re at it. It is a very dirty path and there is a lot of hard work involved.

Now, I’m not one to feel the need to go against older and wiser, so I’m going to link you to this resource page from TC. I’m also going to link you to Devo’s book list since a lot of the books for Kemetism she has listed are excellent reading material and they can really help you flesh out your practice for yourself. One of the books that I recommend to everyone who is even slightly interested in Kemetism is Eternal Egypt by Richard Reidy. This book is an excellent way to try and practice rituals in this day and age, as well as to judge whether or not some of these more ornate trappings are what you want to do.

As for trappings like holidays and gods and specific beliefs and whatnot, this is something that each person is going to have to come at individually. I can’t tell you how to worship a god; I can’t tell you how to hold a festival; I can’t tell you what offerings are more appropriate; I can’t tell you any of that because one of the main things you are going to have to sit down and think about is how far you are willing to take this in regards to your individual desires.

Another thing I will sit back and talk to you, slightly, about with all of this solitary stuff is that one of the earliest questions you will have to ask yourself about your solitary path is whether you want to be a revivalist, a reconstructionist, a Wiccan, or your own whatever-you-may-want-to-call it. I’m not talking about titles about your practice, either. This is when you have to sit down, talk honest with yourself about what you are hoping to achieve with this creation, and work from there. Do you want it to have a slight basis on the past? Do you like what you see in Wicca and want to form it with your ancient Egyptian ideals and gods? Do you want to have a more firm grasp on your religion from a historical basis? These are all things that you have to ask yourself when you do this work because if you don’t know the answers to these questions, then you’re going to stall out.

Part of the reason I decided that solitary recon was something that interested me was because I met a lot of fellow Kemetics on TC (linked above) via their forum. And in seeing how rich and full their practices were, without a temple background and just with having done the research knowing they wanted a basis in history, was enough to get me into realizing that that was something that I wanted, as well. It should have been obvious; considering I refer to myself as “obsessed” with history, but it really is one of those questions that you have to ask yourself and debate over. I’ll let you in on a little secret: while I was working from a recon slant from early on, it wasn’t until this last year that I realized I preferred to be considered more recon than revival or eclectic. So, while this is an important question, it’s not the be-all, end-all to your practice or crafting of a religion.

And yes, you can still work on what your religion will ultimately be while you debate this with yourself. As I said, it was only as I was already in the middle of working on a religion for myself from a historical context that I realized, oh, yeah, I’m a recon. (Just because I’m one of the more vocal Kemetics out there does not mean that I am the smartest at all times!)

This is all very overwhelming.
Yes, it is. I really wasn’t joking when I talked about how much hard work this is going to be just to define, craft, and decide on what practice works well for you. The thing is that a lot of people come into this with the idea that it’s something to do, but in crafting a religion, there’s a lot more than holidays and worshiping gods. There is a daily basis that people forget or don’t take into account when it comes to this whole religion-crafting thing. I completely understand the whole overwhelming part, though. I have spent many an hour wanting to rip my hair out because I want to iron out some belief or concretely claim X in my liturgical side. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent trying to research the most basic nuggets of information so that the festivals that I do celebrate have even the slightest historical basis.

There’s a lot to take in.

So, when it comes to deciding that you want to go down Kemetism (Druidry, Asatru, Hellenismos, et al), don’t take it lightly. You’re in for the long haul and that haul? It sure as hell ain’t light. Once you make the decision that Kemetism (or other religions) are the ones for you, then where you head from here is entirely up to you. I can only take you so far; the rest is up to you.

Rolling Out the Red Carpet (PBP).

This is actually in response to this Tumblr post that has been going around my friends’ Tumblogs. I’m going to do this in the same way that I’ve done my infamous [in my own head] 101 posts.

When will I be called by an OTHER™?
This is actually one of those really common questions in the pagan sphere. A lot of newer practitioners begin to read others’ blog posts or comments on pagan-oriented forums in regards to working relationships with OTHERS™. They see all of these pagan practitioners discussing their “god-bothered” status. (I use this term to denote that gods are in my life, although I believe it was A Changing Altar via their Tumblr that mentioned they didn’t quite like that word. I have to agree that it isn’t the most accurate terminology since it makes one think that those of us who do have close relationships with the gods aren’t thrilled with it and that’s not usually the case. Another reason why this terminology is so inaccurate is because it does not take into account the lwa, the orisha, or any of the other beings out there that are beyond our ken.) And they begin to think that they’re not special enough or able enough or pagan enough or what have you because they haven’t been called the way some others have. This isn’t the case. Every pagan is different; every practice is different even if you are following along with a temple or a grove or a coven. Since every human being is different, no matter how similar the practices and beliefs may be, then you have to go into this whole “god-bothered” thing thinking that each relationship, worship, etc will be different as well.

The thing is that there is no set time frame on when an OTHER™ decides to make contact with someone. While some people have come into this life with an OTHER™ already prepping them or in their lives, in some form or another, that’s not exactly the norm. And then we also have other pagans who have never once had a close relationship with any of the OTHERS™ and not for lack of trying. Whatever the OTHERS™ decide in these cases is up to them. You can’t force something. You can’t assume that because it’s happened to X, Y, and Z pagan then it will happen to you. I’m going to point back to what I said above about everyone’s practice being different in some form or another. And you know, just because a “deep, meaningful relationship” doesn’t happen with an OTHER™ that doesn’t mean that you’re not pagan enough or good enough or any of that jazz. THAT’S BULLSHIT RIGHT THERE AND STOP THINKING THAT WAY. That just means that you’re more likely to explore outside influences while those of us in the “god-bothered category” are less likely to jump outside of the box. (I’m not saying that this is how it is all the time, but I do tend to see a general idea that most people who have a particular patron from a specific pantheon don’t tend to explore outside of that pantheon or culture. Again, this isn’t how it is all of the time.)

We should also consider that there are different levels of relationship, as well, so that may have something to do with it as well. We have god-spouses and god-slaves, we have children of the gods and we have patron deities and and and. So, in some cases, when some of the younger pagans are discussing the whole desire to being called by an OTHER™, we should also take it with a grain of salt. The level of commitment can be very intense – I know of a few god-slaves and a few god-spouses. Their relationship is truly something I cannot comment on (not just because I do not fall into these categories, but it’s nobody’s business what kind and how intense). But some of these other relationships can be fleeting, can be for a specific time frame, etc. For example, when I first began working with Hekate, it was only supposed to be a one month and one day work together. It was just supposed to be fleeting, whereas my relationship with Sekhmet transcends time and space. (No more on that. That’s for the S entries.) So, in that respect, we can sit there and think that maybe it’s not that it won’t happen but that the newbie in question just isn’t ready yet.

How do I know if I’m being called by an OTHER™?
This is something that is difficult. The experience is very different for each individual pagan, but this is also one of the most common questions in regards to relationships with OTHERS™ that I’ve seen. How will I know? What should I look for? The thing is that what I experienced before I realized what was going on isn’t what Joe Blow or Jane Doe will have experienced when it comes to their relationships with their OTHERS™. This is born out in the numerous comments to the post that started this entry. I’ve seen people comment that it was a bit like falling love and others like it was a dawning moment one day.

In my life, when I knew I was being called by the main movers-and-shakers, it was pretty much all a lot of little coincidental moments that added up to one of those dawning epiphanies I have tend to get. It wasn’t like I was falling in love. It wasn’t like I had a particular OTHER™ on the brain. It wasn’t like any of the other ways that pagans have mentioned. And while I could sit around and mull and moan about how it’s “not like everybody else” we have to keep coming back to the point I’ve made in this entry and in others: each practice is different from one another. So, how it works for me may not be how it works for you or you or that person down in the back over there.

If you start thinking that you may be called, then maybe you are. The only way to find out is by asking.

How do I ask an OTHER™ if they are calling me?
This is one of those tricky things that has more to do with the “god-phone” thing than this post, but I thought it merited a little section. The thing is that when it comes to communicating with OTHERS™, how do you do it? Do you just say, “I want this,” and hope that they hear it? Do you have to be in prayer? Do you have to do a ritual? How in the world does anyone ask an OTHER™ anything? They’re a being that is pretty much beyond anything we can think or imagine. (Whoops. My Kemetic half is coming out.) The thing is that we have to first trust in the fact that they are there and that they are listening.

As to how they will send the message, it’s entirely up to them. When it comes to communication, it’s as different between the OTHERS™ as it is for us. We use various languages to communicate with one another and different forums to see it done. So, too, do the OTHERS™. Primarily, my contact with my “god-phone” is limited to oracle and Tarot deck use that is specific to that OTHER™ in question. There are other pagans, however, who have dreams when an OTHER™ is looking to get communication going. You can meditate. You can do a ritual. You can use Tarot or oracle decks. You can pray and ask for them to give you a sign in X way or a dream or whatever you so desire. The “how” the communication comes about isn’t so much important as the fact that the communication ends up happening.

Why is an OTHER™ calling me?
This is one of those things that is entirely up to you to answer. I can sit there and look at the situation, but I won’t know for sure. That’s the problem. Each OTHER™ calls to a person for different reasons.

For example, Hekate never actually called me. I called to her and she accepted the companionship that I had proposed. In this working together, we’re mostly trying to help me to get to a place where I can, actually, start practicing magic again. We discovered that a lot of my past life and current life traumas were holding me back in various ways. She decided it was in my best interest to banish them. So, while this is an ongoing project, since we’ve been working together longer than the month and a day that we had initially agreed upon, that is the nature of her working in my life: guide. Whereas, if we look to Legba, his position in my life is to make contact with that liminal aspect that I deny. And if we look to Hetharu and Sekhmet, we have still other reasons for their being in my life.

When it comes to fostering a relationship with the OTHERS™, it is as varied as how they communicate and how our practices end up. Some relationships with OTHERS™ can be a life-long commitment, while others can only be to help you work through a specific aspect of yourself or your traumas (as in the case with Hekate). And still other types of relationships can be specific to a particular ritual, a time of the year, a festival you’re celebrating, or what have you. Just because an OTHER™ doesn’t come down and tap you on the shoulder to let you know that you suddenly belong to them doesn’t mean you can’t make relationships with the OTHERS™. It just means that you have more free range than some of the rest of us.

Offerings 301.

For the two “O” weeks of the PBP, I decided to do posts about offerings. I had pretty much decided I would do those posts when we were still on the letters “B” or “C” in all honesty. I had noticed a lot of older pagans getting kind of snarky with some of the new members when they asked the de riguer questions regarding offerings and this didn’t sit well with me. By writing these posts, I could cleanly refer people to a basic guide when they had questions and also show that not every pagan who is “older and wiser” can be considered a jerk. You will note that there are three entries in total. The reason for this being that I wanted them staggered by what I felt was a level of hardship. So, things like “what” and “when” are answered in my first post, but things that are a little more difficult to explain or understand can be found in the subsequent posts.

You’ll also notice that as far as questions go, there aren’t many in this section. That’s because when it comes to the harder things, there aren’t as many questions. This may be because people don’t get this far or that they think no one has these kinds of questions. If, for whatever reason, you don’t see a question you really want answered in this series, please contact me. Now, not everyone is going to be comfortable leaving the questions in the comments below. With that a possibility, I’m going to have to say that your safest and best way to get a hold of me (and a quick response) would be via my page on FB for Mystical Bewilderment. If that’s not possible because you don’t have a FB, then you can ask for my E-mail in the comments below and I’ll do my best.

All right. Let’s get started!

Can OTHERS™ get tired of the same old offerings?
This is one of those questions that should be based on both research as well as your UPG (unverified personal gnosis). The thing is that when you do the research on a specific OTHER™ you will find that there are lists upon lists of offerings. For example, if you are doing a quick Google search for offerings for Yinepu, and you stumble on WW Wiki, you’ll see an entire huge-eye-normous list of possible offerings. It covers rocks and beverages, scents and items. In doing other types of searches for other types of OTHERS™, you’ll find similarly. The Theoi site for Greek practitioners have similarly long lists. So, when it comes to giving offerings, the staples of your particular trad (Kemetic being bread and beer, Greek being oil and wine, and Nordic being mead) may not necessarily be something you should stick to.

On top of that, too, we should look to what your gut is saying. (I’ve always been fond of the thought that my UPG lives in my gut, but I’m not quite the norm here.) Or, if you don’t think you have any instincts or UPG to forge through, let’s go at it a different way.

So, let’s think about this from a human perspective because, really, what other perspectives do we have? So, there you are. You are living on your own for the first time and you’re barely making ends meet. So, four nights a week, you’re stuck eating Ramen noodles or macaroni and cheese. The sameness of it really starts to flag on you after a while. Not only do you know that you are eating the most unhealthy diet you could possibly have chosen, but you practically salivate at the idea of something new and exciting, even if that just happened to be a piece of [boring] celery. So, as a human being, the sameness would get to you after a while. Now, let’s think a little bigger. Instead of just being a human, you’re an entity that relies heavily upon the offerings that your followers give to you so that you can manifest in their lives. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a little change up? They change up their meals all the time, but we only get water and bread. What the hell?

So, while sticking with the same old can guarantee that they manifest in your life that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be happy about it. So, change it up. Substitute your usual routine with a bouquet of wild flowers you picked yourself. Or, maybe you could add a smidge of your delicious dinner to their plate once a week. It doesn’t really matter what you choose to offer them – although as a recon, I will admit that sticking to the status quo is both safe and time-tested so therefore, next to the word of the gods themselves – as long as the intent is there. If you mean to give X item to them, then they’ll be happy with that. But try not to get stuck in a rut. If your stomach doesn’t like it, why would theirs?

I think my OTHER™ wants a poisonous offering…?
This is one of those very odd and tricky things that do happen to some of us. For example, when I first started working with Hekate, I read up all I could about what to offer her and I was struck by how many plant offerings were actually poisonous plants. She likes things like deadly nightshade. And while she may enjoy having the pick of some of the more poisonous plants out there, I can’t possibly go around and just pick that stuff up to leave as an offering on her altar. It’s dangerous. It’s childish. It’s foolhardy. And especially with the fact that I have two dogs and a son who likes to touch everything, it’s practically criminal. With that in mind, in my house, poisonous offerings (and poinsettia) are not allowed. If the OTHER™ in question doesn’t like it, then tough nuggets. I have to protect my family and friends from making a mistake that I could have foreseen coming.

Now, I’m not saying an all-purpose NO DON’T DO IT or anything like that. Some of you may not be in a situation like mine. You may not have pets. You may not have kids. And the people who come to visit may know better than to touch whatever you have laying around just in case. With that being possible, then I suggest you go with whatever you feel is necessary. I would just think that an ounce of foresight is a pound of cure. Maybe putting these things into lovely jars with airtight seals would be in your best interest. Or, even, why not print out a picture of the plant in question, get a nice frame from your local dollar store, and ta-da! An offering of the poisonous variety has been given.

My house isn’t pagan friendly. I can’t just leave offerings around… how do I get around this?
This is a short and sweet answer. The reason being that, as I’ve said in my 101 post, it is possible to be living with parents who aren’t interested or willing to tolerate spiritual nourishment that they haven’t decreed. Or, maybe, you live in a dorm room and you can’t exactly wait until midnight to do a little ceremony because you have classes the next morning. So, how do you ninja shit for the OTHERS™ you honor if you aren’t in a pagan-friendly environment?

My advice on this is simple: actions. We’ve all heard the phrase, a thousand times and then some, about actions speaking louder than words. This is also the case in regards to what we do and care for with our OTHERS™. While I enjoy leaving water and other little items to Sekhmet on occasion, I can honestly say that I feel more relaxed and upbeat and like I’m a capable servant of hers when I go out and donate blood to her. When it comes to Legba, my greatest satisfaction in offering form is when I’m helping to open the way for others, either in the voodoo realm or in the realm of paganism in general. Yes, sometimes, you just want a place to put a rock down and say, “This is for X-OTHER™.” And I can completely understand the desire and need to want a place for such things. (I have never been more honest than when I say that I am an idolator at heart and so therefore, when I pray or work with an OTHER™, I need a station for such things.) So, let’s say you’re like me and while actions are awesome, you still want to ninja those offerings to your OTHERS™.

Are there places in your area that are wild or forested or maybe a park? People are probably going to look at you funny in a park if you light a stick of incense and leave a pile of bread behind, but it’s better than having the parental units thinking you’ve gone bat-shit. And I’ve learned from a lot of different pagans that certain places, the wilder feeling ones specifically, are the best places to go out and do things like meditation, leaving offerings, or having big huge celebrations. Dver does this all the time for her major celebrations. She goes out to the ocean or the mountains or the forests and does her thing. While it’s still not quite the same as having a space at home, the thing is that with constant use by us, these places pick up on the power that we’re injecting into it. So, after a years’ worth of use, the spot you’ve chosen will have more power than it did when you initially chose it for rites to X-OTHER™. My only precursor advice to doing this is make sure you get to know the nature spirits in that area first, leave offerings, explain what you want to use the place for, and come what may. Remember: just because you’re human doesn’t give you any more right to a spot than the nature spirits and animals that already live there.

I think my offering was rejected; what do I do?
This is actually one of those questions that rarely gets asked. I think this goes hand-in-hand with my belief that most pagans don’t want to discuss the things like the gods not being pleased with us or any mistakes we have made in regards to the gods, their offerings, or even magical workings. However, this is actually something that should be discussed. We all get the feeling, sometimes, that we’ve displeased the OTHERS™ for whatever reason. Now, as far as I can tell, there are a couple of reasons why an OTHER™ would be rejecting your offering. They could be angry with you. They could be uninterested in you. They could be displeased with the offering itself. (If there are any other possibilities out there, then please place them in the comments so I can go back and edit this section to include them. THANKS!)

If you feel like your offering is being rejected for whatever reason, then let’s start off with the third possibility. Perhaps, the OTHER™ in question didn’t like the quail eggs you left them as an offering. Now, why could that happen? Let’s go back to the books and double-check on the offerings for that particular OTHER™. Are quail eggs in that list? Or is this something you thought you get away with? If it’s not on the list, especially as someone who is either just starting out on this whole path or with this OTHER™ in question, then you should probably figure it as being rejected because it’s not something they appreciate for whatever reason. Maybe they have a thing for living quails, as opposed to their eggs. Or maybe, they think the thought is more over-the-top than they require. Let’s face it. Yes, these are gods, but there’s no need to go over-the-top when it comes to offerings. If the simple things worked back then, they should work just as easily now.

Well, if that’s the case, a simple change to the menu should fix the problem. But, maybe it wasn’t the offering itself. Let’s look at the next possibility, which I think would qualify as “maybe they’re not interested in you.”

Now, this does happen. You come along and find a god that you like, but for whatever reason, no matter what you have tried and done, they have not responded to you. You feel like a fool. You feel like you’re doing it wrong. You feel like a failure. This happens to the best of us. We all have chosen gods that we like, but that weren’t really interested in us for whatever reason. I’ll give you another example. When I first got into paganism, I chose Ma’at as my goddess. Yeah, I liked Sekhmet back then too, but I thought embodying and following Ma’at was the best way to go about a Kemetic pathway. And all I ever felt from her was a generalized, “aw, that’s so cute,” and nothing more. I felt like I was getting the send off and in effect, I was. That goddess didn’t want me for whatever reason. It wasn’t that I was a failure but that I just wasn’t what she was looking for. And the same is probably the case with you and the OTHER™ you’ve chosen at this particular moment. It’s just not meant to be. There can be a hundred reasons or just one reason, but it doesn’t matter. They probably think the effort you’ve put in is nice and all, but they’re just not interested. Your next step here is to move on and either find someone else, something else, or to take a break for a little while. (Never, ever underestimate the power of a vacation even from your religious life.)

The last reason, as far as I can see, is that the OTHER™ in question is angry with you. This does happen, as well. I’ve been known (probably more than most pagans – lol) to piss off my OTHERS™ on a nearly regular basis. Sekhmet was angry with me when I first started out because I pretty much ignored everything she ever told me and ended up suffering for it. Hetharu was pretty angry with me when we first got together because I wasn’t interested in her teachings and I felt like she was being shoved on me. And Legba is actually angry with me right now because I’ve put off a project that I started in his name and I haven’t gotten back into it. (That’s a tale for another day.) The thing is that we all do things now and again to piss of the OTHERS™. It’s just a matter of figuring it out and trying to fix it.

And while I’d love to give you the answers on how to fix it if that is the case, I just can’t. That’s between you and your OTHERS™.

Relevant Posts

  1. Offerings 101.
  2. Offerings 201

Offerings 201 (PBP).

Note: Now, this isn’t everything, you guys. Be on the look out for a 301 post to appear some time this week.

Last week for the PBP, I did a kind of offerings 101 post (my first besides Fallow Time discussions!) and realized that I was leaving a lot out. Honestly, with that last post, I wanted it to be a simple and basic. I wanted to be able to say that you can do this and this and this and worry about the rest of it later. This week, I’m going to continue that post with a few things that I either left out because I am forgetful or because I didn’t think it was something a 101 post should have as content. So, this is the next step to offerings.

How much do I offer the OTHERS™?
Honestly, when it comes to how much, we have to rely on what feels like the best at that particular moment. For me, in the mornings, I give drinks to my OTHERS™ to get their days with me going. This is the extent of it unless I’m feeling otherwise. I go this route because it is the simplest thing I can do before I’ve had enough coffee to make coherent thought. However, it also doesn’t leave me scrabbling around every morning, freaking out because I don’t know what to give them so early. (Ha. I’ll laugh at myself here – “so early” is usually equated to between nine and ten in the morning.) And I’ve gone through that, honestly.

Back when I worked shitty shifts at my old job, I would be up some mornings at about five o’clock in the morning. I would scrabble around to give them something to eat until I was just grabbing whatever entered my hand while I was freaking out in my cupboards. While the gods appreciate the efforts we are putting into this, we also have to keep in mind that burning ourselves out via what we’re giving them, how much we’re giving them, and all of that is absolutely no good. What is the point in doing this if we’re going to burn ourselves out? It’s not worth it. So, if you are giving offerings, don’t worry about how much. Your instincts will tell you what you can handle and how much the gods want at that time. Just listen to yourself long enough and trust in yourself, as well as your OTHERS™.

Now, obviously, when it comes to candles and incense, “how much” doesn’t really qualify. The reason being is because, are you really going to inundate your altar with six incense blends all at once? Are you really going to light six hundred tapers for an OTHER™ and possibly start a fire? And again, when it comes to actions as offerings, it’s pretty much entirely up to your guts on this one. So, say you work with an OTHER™ who has requested that you volunteer at a homeless shelter or a woman’s abuse shelter. How much are you willing to give before seeing and hearing all of that could start to affect you in a negative way? Would you want to go ever day? Or would the OTHER™ in question suffice with a once a month, once a week kind of thing? For example, when I donate blood, I have a specific time requirement for doing this. I can only give once every two months, but maybe after that time is up, I feel that Sekhmet is satisfied with this round of blood donations. So, (as I am currently), I wait until the overwhelming need to donate overtakes me again.

As much as it may suck to realize this, when it comes to the “how much” question you have to rely on common sense and your own judgment. There are some things that others who have been in your situation can tell you, but there are some things that are really up to you, and you only.

How often do I leave offerings?
This is one of those questions where it’s time to hit the books and do some research, either on the tradition that you are following, the traditions of the OTHER™ you are giving offerings to, or merely just sitting down and trying to divine an answer from the OTHER™ itself. Your safest bet, especially as a beginner, would be to do the research of the tradition of the OTHER™ or the path that you are on. As much as you may dislike following a recon style branch of practice, it’s the safest basis for a beginner. The reason being is simply this, if it worked so well when these gods and spirits proliferated the earth, why wouldn’t it still work now?

For example, say you have an altar set up for Hestia in your home. On a daily basis, you give her an offering. This is to bless your home and to continue to have her manifest in your life, as I mentioned in the why section on my first post. Also, you give her the first part of every offering. So, let’s say you have altars set up to Hestia, Aphrodite, and Hermes in your home. And it’s time to get them all a cup of tea and a bit of bread to tide them over. Hestia “has the richest portion,” as quoted from Homeric Hymn 5. You can use that particular quotation to denote that she gets first dibs, but that if you are planning a feast for all three examples stated above, she gets the choicest cuts of meat. And as possibly found in the Homeric Hymn 24, “glorious is your portion and your right.” This could be denoted to mean that not only does she get the first bit of the offerings you are apportioning out, but so too, she gets the first choice of every meal. In regards to the interpretation, it’s entirely up to you, what you are willing to do, and how much you are willing to give.

But again, let’s not quite discount ancient practices. As I said, they worked before, so why not again?

What do I do with the offerings when I’m finished with them?
Again, it’s time to hit the books because maybe, the tradition you are following or the tradition around the OTHER™ in question has that answer for you. In a lot of ancient traditions as well as the African diaspora traditions that are so hot nowadays, you would eat the offerings when you were finished with them. But, also, let’s say you’ve left out offerings to the fairies. You don’t want to eat those. So how do you know? Again, it’s time to do the Google-fu and try to figure it out, or pick up a couple of books that are highly recommended by others of said tradition, and get to reading.

Now, in both of the practices that I follow, eating and imbibing the offerings is normal. However, I don’t do this. The particular reason is simply because I just didn’t think eating whatever I was offering at five in the morning was a good idea for me. I am not a breakfast person – I am a coffee person, who then eats her first meal around noon. So, forcing myself to ingest whatever it was that I was offering was draining me instead of fulfilling me. In regards to the offerings, I would actually break up the bread I would leave for the gods and leave it for the birds or squirrels. I went through a phase where I would walk to a particular wooded area in my neighborhood, and I would leave the offerings there.

But, maybe you live in a busy city and you don’t think that animals proliferate your neighborhood – I had this issue, too. I found that when I was leaving bread in my yard, it was just waiting there until I walked my dogs and they would eat it. So, what then? You can do as I did and try to find a wooded area where you think animals will retrieve the offerings – give back to the earth, so to speak.

Or, and this is actually quite common, you can give your leftovers to the “guardians of the trash receptacle and sewers.” I’ll dump the coffee I leave out to Legba in my sink. As far as I know, trees and plants aren’t too keen on coffee. But the water could go to good use, right? And there’s the thing. I have pets so I’ll use it to refill their water dish. You may not have this option or even the plant option, so, if you have nowhere else to revert these offerings to, then it’s time to get friendly with your local sewer system. (And for those of you despairing that you have financial woes and you can’t waste food, I will get to you, in a minute.)

How do I know they’re done with the offerings?
In some cases, you’ll just know because the incense has guttered out or for some reason, the taper you lit in honor of the OTHERS™ is no longer burning. We can safely assume that they’re finished with that particular offering. However, maybe you leave food out to them. How long do you leave it there, right? Do you leave it there to rot? Do you get rid of it after a couple of hours? What works? How do you find out? Well, the thing here is that I rely entirely on gut instinct and common sense.

For example, let’s say you left out some bread and water to your gods and that you ingest the offering after they are done with it: do you really want to drink dusty water and bread that is as hard as a rock? No. So, find a time frame that works for you. But, maybe you left out the bread and the water, but you don’t ingest afterwards. You can pretty much leave it there for eternity if you wanted to and that’s okay because it’s not like you’re going to eat it, right? Well, in that case, how often are you leaving these things? If you change them out daily, as I do, then you’re not going to want to leave them there for more than twenty-four hours. And too, you also don’t want to get an ant problem. So, maybe you should set a time limit how long that bread is hanging out on your altar space. Then revert as you have decided to do and ta da! You’re ready for a new offering the next time you give it.

You mentioned us with financial problems…?
Currently, I am not the richest pagan out there. In fact, I’m far from it. This is part of the reason why I only give the sparing offerings that I do to my OTHERS™. I can give away a cup of coffee in the morning to Legba and water is easily accessible from my kitchen tap. However, not everyone who is in the same or similar financial crises as myself only give beverages as I do. So, what do you do then, most especially if you’re one of those people who isn’t going to eat the pomegranate that Sekhmet asked that you get for her and you went around and did so? Well, again, you can revert to the earth, you can give actions only as offerings, you can give offerings when your financial crisis let’s up or is over, or…

…you can give something like Re-Ment as an offering. Now, this Google image search will show you all the different types of offerings that you could give in idol form. The reason I even know about this is because Devo gives this as her daily offering to her gods. In ancient Egypt, there were a number of idols found in the form of possible food offerings. This substitute was acceptable then, so she thought, why not now? Not only does it stop her from worrying because she has food allergies and so, can’t just imbibe whatever it is she gives to her gods, but she also doesn’t have to worry about what she’s giving out on a daily basis or if she’s having a harder month with bills this month, she doesn’t have to worry about any food she may “be wasting.” And as far as I know, the big huge lot she bought went for fairly cheap on eBay.

You can also go into second-hand stores and get those plastic foods you had as a child when you were playing in your kitchen. They make a lot of different selections out there, so you won’t have to worry about “boring, old offerings.”