When I was a baby Kemetic, there were no resource lists. The groups or message boards talked about discernment and stay away from Budge, but any book purporting to be a viable resource for Kemeticism was kind of up for grabs. This is part of the reason why my resource list includes beginner friendly, and not so beginner friendly, resources. This is also why some books that I’ve read have been left off the list – they’re a waste of time for a neophyte to bother with. And that is why I have a copy of Ancient Egyptian Magic by Bob Brier, which is conveniently not on my list.
Ole Bob is not what we would term a good resource. I picked up the book because I had read one of his other books about Tutankhamun and I enjoyed it. But Ancient Egyptian Magic… well. Frankly, from my notes, this book is the same generic shit most Kemetics have read a thousand times over before they’re even a month or two into this shit. And honestly? Little of the book remains in my memory except for two things.
He has a chapter about calendars. The first thing about those calendars was that he basically created a fixed calendar for the book. I would later re-use the model for my own religious calendar. Why recreate the wheel every year when I could just have everything happen on the same day over and over again? And the second was the concept of lucky and unlucky days. Each day was considered favorable or adverse [allegedly]. I don’t know if that’s 100% accurate about the lucky/unlucky days but it kind of stuck with me. Considering the longevity of ancient Egypt and the complexities of the calendar, this kind of seems a bit watered down for my tastes. But the idea that there were just some days of the year that were considered bad news bears and other days that were really good kind of resonated I guess.
According to Bob’s calendar, January 3rd is a “very adverse day”. On my personal religious calendar, January the 3rd is the second day of II Peret, which is “very favorable” when I looked at Bob’s calendar chapter. Not sure which it is in my personal lexicon, but it will eternally be remembered as the day that my mother died.
My mother died.
You’ve Been on My Mind
None of this was unexpected. And not in that philosophical way about how the only two things certain in life are death and taxes. In October of 2019, or maybe September of 2019 – we don’t know for sure – she had a series of catastrophic strokes that left her nearly incapable of taking care of herself. She didn’t get up, barely ate, and stopped taking care of her dog. That was the one thing that we could count on – her love and care for her dog. She went to the hospital and never went back home again.
Everyone seemed to believe that she would one day get better. My uncle and aunt recovered from their strokes (my uncle with more difficulty and less success than my aunt), so obviously my mother would recover too. But they all seemed to forget, or maybe ignored is a better word, she suffered pretty heavily from depression. And as my other aunt has said, my mom always seemed to have a difficult life. Just with those two factors alone, why would she put in the work to get better? No matter what she claimed on the phone with people who she probably didn’t actually remember (depended on the day really).
And she didn’t.
She claimed she wanted to “get better” in calls with her nursing homes to talk health care plans, but put in minimal to no effort to get there. Sometimes I wonder if people talked her into believing it (probable) when she assured me she would do everything she could to walk on her own again, to write again, to talk without thinking hard about what she was trying to say. But she always refused to do the work when the time came and even started being more than just a little combative about therapies. I often wonder if the nursing homes wrote down in her chart that she wasn’t willing to do what was necessary, but maybe they just all knew what everyone else was ignoring. My mom was just biding her time until the inevitable.
Slowly I made peace with the idea that she was going to be bed-ridden for the remainder of her life. She would never walk outside or have another dog. She would never learn how to use a wheelchair or how to hold a pen again. Her text messages and emails would be forever word salad. And so would phone conversations, too. And then after all of that she would die. She would die in one of those places with no one nearby. I bought a cremation package. I stopped letting the nurses send her to the hospital for UTIs and arrhythmia and put her on palliative care. And eventually, I signed the DNR that they had brought up to me a handful of times before I agreed to sign it.
On January 2nd, they called at 11AM to tell me that she wasn’t doing well. That was it. “Well, okay,” I said. It wasn’t the first time I had gotten that call since I signed the DNR. I had gotten two more in the intervening months, so it was practically business as usual. At 1:42PM on the 3rd, they told me that she was actively dying and it wouldn’t be long. This was the call where people would ask about Last Rites and to say goodbyes. I had said mine years before on a Christmas Day when I thought she was doing to die in the hospital three months after she went into the hospital because of her strokes. I didn’t need to say goodbye again. At 3:37PM, I was told that she passed.
In her sleep.
Let the Rivers Guide You In
The death of my mother opened a whole complicated chasm of emotions. It was never really a waterfall but more like a steady trickle that continued. One of those annoying leaks from the faucet that you can hear but no matter how many times you fiddle with it, the steady drips of water continue. I just kept following the drips, fiddling with the faucet, and moving on until I got annoyed by the leak again. A steady circle of hear the leak, futz with the thing that is leaking, and then scream in irritation when I couldn’t fix the leak.
I knew the overall plan for her death – I had semi-thought it out before it happened. I mean, I did buy a cremation package after all. And knowing that I had a sort-of-plan kind of helped. The one thing the family is known for are plans and lists. Better to be forearmed than unarmed, as my mother would say. But it became clear early on that plans or no plans, nothing was really going to happen according to what I had thought.
It became more “go with the flow” as I tried to figure out what I needed to do. And a lot of fending off the masses who either wanted to tell me what I should do or demand to know what was happening every minute of the fucking day. Every time I thought “okay, now we can plan and feel accomplished” it didn’t quite work out that way. When I felt ready to put the pedal to the metal, I was constantly reminded that, much like Wash from Firefly (spoiler), “I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar.” And much like that character, I would be gutted later.
The whole month of January is a fog of start and stop. Of ignoring family members who needed to “check in” on me. Of ignoring their attempts while I just went through the motions because I didn’t know what else to do before I could even get to a fucking starting point. Success and movement; stall out and wait.
I was beyond frustrated to the point of numbness. In a way, I’m still kind of numb. Grief isn’t linear as much as it would make life easier if it was. The frustration rears its head and then disappears. A dark, angry void appears within and then closes back up. The well of screams and tears from my inner child rings out and then stops. Everything is wrong; everything is okay. A constant battle amid the storm surge and a lot of the time, it feels like I’m drowning.
The flow finally got a little easier, a little less wild. And it was steady, less rough. It gave me more time to grieve or something. But I’m not sure that I even know what that means, or how to do it. I emu’d my little head in the sand, occasionally coming up for air to look around. But mostly I let the numbness take over, assuming that once X was done, then I’d feel better. Or maybe just less number. But the goal posts kept moving and still are to this day.
Waiting Here Till the Stars Fall Out of the Sky
My favorite afterlife imagery stems from the Old Kingdom. The vision of the Pharaoh being remade into a star has always struck me in a way that the Duat can’t or never will. I think it’s because I love stars, the night sky. It’s so beautiful. Watching the night sky time lapses is relaxing to me, like ASMR or something. And each speck of light is someone who once lived on earth but has been remade into helium, hydrogen, and nuclear forges to churn out millennia worth of light.
There’s this trend on TikTok about don’t look for me after I’ve died in the sunsets but look for me in -insert place here-. Look for me in the stars, of course, is how I would finish the trend (if I knew how to do that shit). But not just me. All of my ancestors too.
Being able to look up (when the clouds allow) and seeing the stars gives me that added connection, padding if you will. Yet another physical reminder of my ancestors but also a deep held belief that has helped me to add depth and meaning to my practice. I can also look up and feel a speck of connection to the faceless strangers and names from history and the nameless as well.
It’s also nice to be able to go outside, choose a star, call it one of my ancestors’ names and feel them, see them. But the one person that I cannot see is my mother. We could assume that it’s just too soon, too early, and maybe that’s a part of it. Most of the other ancestors I’ve reached out to and/or incorporated into my practice have been dead for quite some time. But there’s been just… so much in the last three years that has truly made me evaluate whether I could see her as part of the nexus of my ancestors. And I can’t see her there.
I don’t feel guilt for feeling this way, just resigned. This is how other Kemetics have felt about toxic or mean or abusive deceased. So, I’m not alone. But it feels weird to even think much less acknowledge.
One of the things that a lot of pagans would say when I talked about my mom’s passing would be about her being welcomed by the ancestors. I kind of brushed it off but it didn’t sit right with me. And it’s because I can’t see her in that mass of ancestors because of trauma and rage and grief and and and. Also let’s just not say those types of things to people because a lot of people have background stuff that they don’t talk about with abusive/traumatic relationships and talking about those people being welcomed by the ancestors is triggering as shit.
I don’t know if I’ll ever included her honestly.
And that’s okay. If I ever feel the need to fill the place that I had staked out for her, 10 years or more now, on the ancestor road map I can put someone else there. Like Anne Boleyn or maybe Hatshepsut or Lucrezia Borgia or whoever. I can slide them in there and keep them with a little super glue or something. And maybe remove them if it doesn’t work out. Or if I finally decide one day that my mom belongs in that spot.
You’re Coming Home
My brother hated the idea of bringing her back home to bury her. He didn’t have a say in the plan and since there was a hole in the ground designated for her beside our dad… So, we’ll use it. He tried to talk me out of it but the plan was in motion long before he offered his unasked for opinion. And while he complained and bitched, it was going to happen the way I said it would. And then he said that mom would hate being back up north.
But oh well.
I chose to lay her to rest / do the memorial service on February 21st. I had originally chose February 18th because it was the Feast of Nut Who Counts Up Days. Poetic, right? But uh funerals aren’t held on the weekends I guess. And the 21st was the first available day after the Feast that would also give my brother enough time to drive up (36 hour drive up and another one of the way back but that’s what he decided).
The morning of the 21st, it snowed. It was honestly the first real snow up here all winter (An accumulated total of 4.6″ for the whole of winter – that’s totally normal). I walked outside that morning and laughed. It was like a final “fuck you” from here to my mom. She had fled the state after multiple winters spent blowing out her knees or one of her tires because of the snow and ice. My brother was 100% right – Mom would be pissed off beyond all measure to be back up here and doubly so to find it snowing the day she was going into the ground for eternity.
She’d probably be even angrier, or maybe would laugh, to find out that the week following her interment, we are getting snow every day. Not a lot but just enough to dust the ground back over. Maybe the snow, much like the family, needed her back up here to finally put an end to the stasis we’ve all been in (but probably not).
The Pain is the Same
This post has been marinating in my journal for close to two months. I originally wrote it to post here. I started it at the beginning of February and then took the whole month to write. Then I decided to keep it to myself before rethinking that. I finally decided to share it here but didn’t want to release it right away. Today, the day I chose to finally publish it, is March 25th. Mom would have been 67 today.