A Year of Rebirth.

One of my boss’s signature questions when we’re stuck in the minutiae of our work is “what is the bigger picture?” I joke with the other employees in the office that this is her catch phrase, but it’s a good thing to ponder on when you get too lost in the details. Too often, we get so focused on the finer points that we lose sight of the high level goal of what we’re trying to achieve for the client.

On the flip side, I’ve often found myself more focused on the overarching goal of what we want to achieve that I misstep on the day-to-day. It’s easy to take yourself so far out of the particulars that you forget to focus and follow the process that you and the client have cobbled together to get to the end goal.

I got stuck in the mindset of bigger picture in 2015, focusing more on the overarching goal of a rebirth that I didn’t ask for and didn’t want. I’ve given some consideration to the idea that because I didn’t have the baby steps necessary to achieve the bigger picture that this only added to the dog-pile when I finally pulled out and let the rebirth fail. While this is by no mean’s the primary reason why it failed, it’s given me enough food for thought for what I should be working on in 2019 as I go through this again.

Bigger picture is a fine focal point, but the path through the wood isn’t a top-down view when you’re walking it. I need the signposts that I’ll be looking for as the year progresses and I continue this journey forward.

Big?

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both. And be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could… – The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

In prep for the year ahead, I decided to create a map and placed little arrows on that map where sign posts could conceivably be as I move forward. I looked at the project as if I was trying to recreate the app I use on my daily commute to work. While I know the general route to get to work, the app helps me to navigate through pitfalls like traffic or construction to ensure that I get to work in a timely manner. I wanted something similar when I began trying to come up with the baby steps I need to see through this year of rebirth.

A starting point was a high level exploration of the books of the afterlife. While reading through My Heart, My Mother, I took notes on the various hours of the night that Roberts discusses at length in her book. After reviewing my notes on the various hours, I also read through whatever other books I had to hand that discussed the plethora of afterlife literature popularized in the New Kingdom. This way, I could follow the path through the night just as Ra does each evening and have a general idea of where I was headed, what I might come into contact with, and how to move on when the time comes.

After going through everything that I had written down, read through, and internalized, I decided that I would follow through on an old blogging project that never came to fruition: I would follow the nightly path of Ra through the next 12 months, correlating each month with a particular hour. While the focus will be on the Book of Night that is discussed extensively in Alison Roberts book, I have also found other items of interest from the other afterlife literature I was researching and will include that in the blogging project.

On the first of each month, I will write an historical perspective as best as I can on each individual hour with all of the information I’ve been able to learn. I will then conclude my personal rebirth-oriented exploration of the hour toward the end of the month. (For those not interested in UPG, you can ignore the second post that will go live on the last day of the month.)

This map will, hopefully, help me to continue moving forward instead of getting stuck in the peristalsis of Nut’s body as I go through this next year.

Ritual

Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. – The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Beyond all of the rebirth connotations and the Book of Night, I also recognized that my ritual game has been… non-existent. I can’t remember the last time I gave daily offerings to my gods or my ancestors. While I do honor them on holidays and the like should I get around to it, my offerings and rituals have fallen off dramatically since my failed rebirth three years ago.

I found it difficult to care about providing for them all when I often felt that I was the one doing the lion’s share of the work. Offerings are hard work; not only are their words and gestures necessary to see it through… The sheer act of taking the time out of what can often be an exhausting day to provide for them when I seemed to get next to nothing in the reciprocity game seemed to be asking for too much from me. So I stopped bothering.

But through all of my research, there is one thing that has been hammered home for me over and over again. The act of ritual is just as important as the offerings themselves. It is more than simply plopping a few things down and calling yourself done. Reciprocity is the name of the game, but in order to be a player in the game, certain standards must be met both in the realm of offerings and how those offerings are conveyed, I.E. rituals.

As part of this, I have agreed to do a daily ritual for my gods and ancestors. The purpose of this ritual is two-fold: to wake both the gods and my ancestors up each morning happily and cheerfully and to give them the libations and offerings that I am putting out for them to feed upon that day. I’m not thrilled that I will be effectively doing this 365 days (the last time I gave offerings regularly, I at least took Sundays off) but this was the deal that I agreed to when I was asked for daily rites.

The daily rite will look something like this:

Purification with water, incense, and fire
Procession of offerings
Opening the shrine bolt
Sprinkling of water over shrine/icons
Ritual words to wake up the gods and ancestors
Ritual words as offerings are provided to gods and ancestors
Offering the whole Eye of Horus
Offering the heart
Reversion of offerings
Closing of the shrine

As this will be my first real foray in doing more than the basic good morning ritual in Eternal Egypt by Richard Reidy, I’m simultaneously excited and nervous. I suppose as time goes by, I will eventually get to an established clear point where I feel, if not content with the overall work, then at least comfortable with it.

In addition, I will be partaking in both the Year of Rites and Making Ma’at 2K19 orchestrated by TTR. (Links and explanations below.)

Rebirth

Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—. I took the one less traveled by,and that has made all the difference. – The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

The year ahead is, most likely, not for the faint of heart. I will be undergoing a deep-seated and necessary change. The overall purpose will, hopefully, be for the better. This rebirth cycle is to better myself, better my gods, and better my ancestors. All of us are putting in a concerted effort to achieve the overall goals we have set for ourselves in 2019.

There are other pushes, other irons in the fire that will hopefully make the next year a roller coaster ride of change. It should certainly be interesting, if nothing else.

Further Reading

Petition to Sekhmet – July Edition

I am rapidly beginning to understand why there is a dearth in the Kemetic community for heka hut type things. There is a toll on the person doing the heka hut that I, personally, didn’t take into consideration. With each month that comes by and each monthly rite and service under my belt, I am not only seeing some really heart breaking tales and requests, but I’m also beginning to see a pattern in what is requested and my responses to it. While I’m pretty used to what’s being requested – much is of the mental or financial assistance category, which makes sense considering the world climate we currently live in – but what I find disheartening is that with each new petition service having come and gone, I find myself more and more exhausted by the end of it.

All in all, it’s not even the actions themselves or the specific errands I must complete prior to the rite that tires me out, but the whole act relating to it. The next day, I wake up fairly early with the knowledge that I still need to spend some serious time on the actual blog entry itself relating to what occurred the evening before. And I find myself, more often than not, just sitting around with a blank look on my face, feeling like I haven’t achieved a damn thing and whatever energy levels I may have had are now currently out the window.

If this is what even a fraction of people have experienced when conducting these types of services, I can completely understand why they stop after a while. I think it’s kind of like burn out. And of course, while all of these service type things are happening, nothing else stops. There is still a life to live and still religious items to go through and deal with and still lessons to learn and still family to tend to and still a dirty fucking house that needs to be cleaned. I mean, it’s all still there, but it gets shunted to the side for a bit to complete the service and then, there it is, back and ready the very next day.

Yes, I can clearly understand why people don’t tend to do these things for such long periods of time.

With seven months of official rites under my belt, I’ve also noticed a steady decline in requests. I’m mostly okay with this because that means that I spend an hour writing down petition requests instead of multiple hours. However, it also leads me to wonder why the requests have dropped off. I find myself adding people into those requests whether they ask for one or not – people I care about, people within my community, who clearly need some assistance coming from somewhere.

I often wonder if the reason the requests have dropped off lately is because people aren’t seeing anything being done on their behalf. This might be fear (mine) talking, but it’s something I’ve thought about each month.

I don’t know if I have ever made it clear that Sekhmet decides on what she does or does not do. I have absolutely no say in who gets first dibs or who gets completely ignored. I would assume that the people who are just hoping that things end up dropped in their lap without doing any of the legwork are the people who are not seeing anything positive come out of this. Or maybe, it’s because whatever they are doing is insufficient and they need to do something else. Or maybe, people are just sick of seeing me put that request out there every month and they no longer give a shit.

I’m not sure it really matters.

I think I may try something different, though. This month was the last actual rite – next month is an oracular session. (Note to self: let’s be firm about how many people are admitted to this because you sucked last time and admitted like a million people more than you wanted.) I think, though, in September, I’m going to change up how I put out the request a little bit and see if that draws anyone new in or brings back frequent flyers.

The rite itself, as usual, was pretty simple. I had a couple of errands that I wanted to get through yesterday in order to meet up with Sekhmet during the service portion of my evening, fully stocked with what I wanted. However, I also had other errands that I needed to complete in preparation of Wep-Ronpet, which is rapidly approaching. (Wep-Ronpet is slowly but surely turning into something very different from what I’m used to.) So, I did the two burns with one stone shtick and managed to get everything that I wanted in about two hours… minus the rose petals.

I’ve pretty much just given up on rose petals for the time being, even though I really fucking love using red rose petals in my services. The last two bags that I had went bad before I could use them all, which irritates me beyond belief. I completely understand that I’m buying it and they are on sale so, therefore, I should use them quickly. But my ritualistic time table and the rotting-slowly time table of the rose petals are clearly not in sync. So, until I can be sure that I’m getting fresh rose petals that will last beyond two weeks, I’m going to have move passed that particular idea. In the meantime, I can still set a mean fucking altar if I want to.

Even without rose petals, it still looks pretty B.A., in my opinion.

Even without rose petals, it still looks pretty B.A., in my opinion.

I decided on a simple setting this month. I chose grapes and wheat bread for an offering. The only thing that I went a little overboard with was the CHOCOLATE. I saw this chocolate Swiss roll that was on sale at my local grocery store and it looked so delicious. It also had the fewest caloric intake when compared to all of the other delectable goodies on sale in the bakery. It was rich and fucking wonderful, by the way, and if they ever have it on sale ever again, I am going to buy it (possibly not with the intention of giving any to the gods, possibly only for me).

For this month’s flowers, I chose an orange type of color. I was hoping to add lilies to the whole shebang because I’ve been on a lily kick lately. However, none of the bouquets with lilies were in my price range, so instead, I found this really awesome orange and white bouquet for like $6. There were even roses in the bouquet and as anyone who has been reading my blog can attest, I fucking love using roses in my rites and whatnot. So, I can’t really tell if I was sold because of the orange roses or if it was just because it’s a color I associate with Sekhmet or perhaps both. But orange fucking bouquet it damn well was.

When I came home, I did some minor altar cleaning and then napped.

I realized at about three or so that I was fucking exhausted. I am an introvert and a homebody, in case no one was aware. So, all of the errand running kicked my ass coupled with yet another shit-tacular work week. So, my son and I ended up watching Mythbusters and fell asleep until well passed dinner time. (Seriously, I took like a 3 hour nap, which is unheard of. Give me an hour and I’m usually ready to bounce up and do the things. Or, well, not bounce up, per se, but like at least get shit done until I have quiet time.)

I added incense, booze-and-soda, and cool water to the altar before trying to find a box that I like for shrine purpose. (I failed. I found a bunch of boxes that I really liked and found issues with every single one. Then I found a bunch of boxes that I kind of liked and found issues with every single one of those, as well. I’m beginning to despair that I’ll find one in a timely manner – because I should have found one like well before now since this was “supposed” to be done with before Wep-Ronpet.)

While reverting the offerings, I sat around and did some thinking about what sort of changes I can expect in the next few weeks. I know there are a lot – there have been others who have confirmed that they’ve noticed BIG CHANGES on the horizon and with Wep-Ronpet rapidly approaching for Kemetics across the world, it’s really no wonder. (Wep-Ronpet can be a chaotic time for a lot of reasons and three years running, I’ve noticed that’s when shit goes down, at least in my life.) I have to hope that the BIG CHANGES are an easier confluence than the last few BIG CHANGES I’ve gone through.

Also, I have to wonder why in the hell 2014 is the year of BIG CHANGES.

Whatever the case may be, here’s to hoping that Wep-Ronpet heralds the end to them. And that with the burning of my last seven months’ worth of petitions, a new era will reign supreme. Or, if not a new era, I at least won’t have to stop because no one puts in requests anymore.

Petition to Sekhmet – June 2014.

Yesterday, I woke up knowing that I needed to be on a much more even keel than I had been all week long. I don’t know if it was just me, but this last week kicked my ass. It seemed like at every possible juncture, I was battling some stupid asshole to get things rectified and things still weren’t rectified after the battle. I did surprise pop-ins. I escalated shit. I ended up sitting at my desk at lunch just about every day and instead of reading, as is usually the case, I propped my head in my hands and tried very hard not to cry. And as if the universe wasn’t having enough shit throwing the telecommunications world in which I work into complete and utter chaos, they felt the need to do the same with my personal life, too. My emotional stability had gone from “solid as a rock” to “impersonate a Geiger counter at Chernobyl on April 28, 1986.” While I have to continue to live my life, and take what comes at me in whatever possible way that I can, I also can’t let it impact the services that I am providing for others.

The ib is strong with this one.

The ib is strong with this one.

With that in mind, I put on my most recent purchase from On the Temple Steps, which is owned by Bezen (the owner of Per Sabu). I had bought an ib pendant from her a few weeks ago, feeling the need to add yet more heart imagery to my daily wardrobe. As anyone who has been following me for a while should know, I was tasked with finding a ring that perfectly symbolized our relationship before the end of 2013. I had chosen an anatomical heart for the task and I wear it every day. As though to emphasize my decision on the imagery, I was looking through Bezen’s most recent amulet haul and thought, I need an ib for Sekhmet, too. It actually came in on Friday – a single bright spot in an ongoing miasma of pure bullshit – and couldn’t wait to wear it around. So, after going through my morning ablutions yesterday, I put it around my neck, coupled with the winged Sekhmet pendant that I don’t wear as often as I probably should, and felt instantly better.

I don’t know if anyone reading this will understand what I’m talking about but when I put on those pendants, I felt a much more solid connection to the services I was going to provide that evening and also to Sekhmet, as a whole. It felt very much as though I had bathed the back of my neck in Florida water, which I do when I’m feeling frazzled and overwrought. Things have been dicey all over the place on an emotional level and I always tend to view Sekhmet as this stalwart in the midst of said upheavals. But this week, even knowing that I am her daughter and she will always be there for me in some form or another, I couldn’t find a connection. I worried about it, honestly. How can I provide rites if I’m feeling this? I need to be more on the level! I don’t know if the ib came in with the purpose of bringing me back towards that stalwart matron with whom I love dearly or if it was mere happenstance. Whatever the case may be, the second that golden amulet was around my neck, coupled with the silver amulet of Sekhmet, winged and ready to inflict chaos on those who deserve it, I felt much better about the whole thing.

And as I prepared for last night’s services, I realized that, well, over all I was beginning to feel better about the whole process. I realized that I didn’t feel nervous about the upcoming services, at all. It’s possible this was due to how chaotic and awful things were this week. I can’t possibly discount that because of how the universe threw every available curveball in my direction, I was too overwrought to even remotely feel nervous about things. But, I honestly have to wonder if that was it in its entirety. I’m beginning to think that after six months of officially doing this, coupled with the two months of unofficially doing this, that I may actually be starting to feel like I know what I’m doing. I can’t say that I have all the answers, but I do feel as though I have in hand what it is that I’m doing, what the aim is, and where I’m heading: the heka hut.

A while back, Devo and Helms had been throwing around the idea of a heka hut. I’m not sure when that conversational ball got started or even what brought it up, aside from something that Nekhbet had said to Helms at some point or another. In effect, the heka hut would be: “Where a group of hekau performs heka for people in need. We’d each do our own rites, possibly together, possibly separate.” While I will admit that I would prefer other hekau to get in on this, especially considering there is quite obviously a hole within the overall community for rites such as these, I also understand the lack of spoons that most of us currently are in the middle of. But as I thought about it all day yesterday, occasionally reaching up to the ib around my throat, I realized that I had accidentally started the heka hut without even consciously realizing that was what I was doing and am now just kind of waiting for others to jump on the bandwagon.

So, while I don’t know if that’s really what this whole thing is about – if Sekhmet thought the heka hut idea needed a push and is using me as a guinea pig – or if her wants and desires coincide with the original idea, I do know that what I’m doing is a valued service within the community. The list of petition requests I receive each month is a clear indicator that people need this. And I will admit that I’ve always felt like I needed to help people in some form so this actually all kind of fulfills that desire, too. As many spoons as this little heka hut can sometimes take, it’s a win-win over all.

Another thing that I have noticed with each month that passes is that I am finding it easier and easier to pull something out of my butt. I really don’t think anyone fully recognizes how much of my practice is me just saying, “Hey, I have a thing that I want to do; let’s see what I have around the house and make it a festival!” Or, insert religious observance. Sometimes, I have to go out and get items specific to that event, but it’s usually in cahoots with chores that I am already in the process of crossing off of my ever-growing to-do list. So, it’s not really as if I do anything overt or special for any of those observances. I am just doing what I would normally do or spending money on the food that I would normally purchase. And while the first few months of these services show a larger portion of meals and offerings to sweeten the deal, so to speak, I’ve come to realize that I don’t need to be so overt with these things. Just as I don’t need to be so overt with the other festivals, feast days, and processions that are marked on my calendar.

With each month, I know what I need to get things done and I know what I am going to do.

I don’t know if that makes me an expert or just more capable, but whatever the case may be, each month seems to find an easing of tensions that were explosive back in January.

For offerings, I chose roses. I really like flowers, okay? But I found that the roses were on SUPER SALE at my local grocery store. I got 15 stems for under ten dollars. And honestly, I don’t know why they were on massive sale since the roses were still in good condition. There was hardly any rot in any of the petals, which I removed as I was cutting them down to fit my vase, and hardly any of them had even started to bloom. I was also able to snag another bag of rose petals, which were also on sale. I went through the petals last night and saw that they were all in good condition, as well. What was even better was that the two key items I wanted to provide as food offerings – oranges and grapes – were still on sale, too. I was able to walk out of the grocery store with spending a lot less than I had budgeted for this month’s services.

I don’t know if the universe was trying to make it up to me after a hellacious week with all of these sales or not, but it certainly pleased me.

I didn’t have as many petitions as I normally do this month. I think that shows that these things come in waves. I don’t know, since I’ve only been doing this for six to eight months now, if people are more in need of reaching out to the gods in the beginning and ending the year, when things are constantly changing (and not necessarily in good ways), or if people are just so inured to my call that it’s that time again. In either case, I didn’t spend hours writing out petitions this month, which was nice. I was actually able to write them all down in less than an hour. I did see a few familiar faces and I also saw some new requests. And I added actually a bunch of people from the Kemetic community without letting them know. Since I know them all so well, I tend to know what’s going on in their lives at a given moment and know when I feel the need to step in and do something. Even though most of our relationships are long distance and through the Internet only, so I can’t really stop by with pints of ice cream to eat away the feelings, I can at least reach out to a deity who knows how to fuck bad shit up.

I even put in a petition request for myself, which I legitimately try not to do. It’s not that I don’t think she won’t listen to my request any more than anyone else’s, but also that I know the request I was putting in was probably kind of dumb. I haven’t done any work on my end to further the goal I was requesting her assistance with, so why should she listen to me? I also don’t like to put in my own requests because then I feel like a selfish jackass. But things were made quite clear to me the last few weeks regarding some things and I realized I needed to do something. Hopefully, the way that I formed the heka for myself won’t seem as though I’m asking her to pull a miracle pass in the last 15 seconds of the game, but just give me the added boost or the push that I need to get off my ass.

Oranges to symbolize her Eye of Re aspect; grapes to symbolize my servile relationship; and flowers everywhere to symbolize the beauty in maintaining ma'at.

Oranges to symbolize her Eye of Re aspect; grapes to symbolize my servile relationship; and flowers everywhere to symbolize the beauty in maintaining ma’at.

After cleaning off her altar space and setting up the offerings in front of her, I reached out and touched the prayer beads that are always on my altar. No matter what changes I may make, there are key elements in my relationship to Sekhmet that are always there: the prayer beads are one of those. I reached out to those beads and realized that I wanted to make them more part of the rite than I usually do. I normally have them on my altar, in some form or another, but I wanted to be a little more symbolic here. I placed them on top of the bowl of petitions, as a kind of sign post for her to take a peek at what people were asking for. Since I touch them frequently and leave them as an ongoing offering to her, I felt like it was the right step to bring her into this world to look at what people were asking. I also placed the feather of ma’at amulet on top of them (also from Bezen’s shop).

With everything completed, I relaxed for a bit, hoping that the next week is more about ma’at and less about isfet.

Petition to Sekhmet – May 2014.

This week was strange only in the fact that I actually remembered I had a rite coming up. Hell, I remembered last weekend that I had a rite coming up and had to demure from plans with friends this weekend so that I could see the religious aspect of my life. What was even weirder was that I found myself looking forward to the weekend. Of course, I’m usually looking forward to the weekend because work is shit, but in this particular instance, I was looking forward to the weekend because of the rite I was supposed to be doing. I don’t know if I’ve ever truly looked forward to do these things before. Looking back on this last week, it was almost as if I was climbing out of my skin with the need to be doing something and when it finally came upon me, I looked up and knew who I was, what I was, and what I had to do. I stopped questioning myself long enough to do what I had said I would do and maybe, I was a little content with it.

Yesterday, I found myself in a sorry state, though. Most of my Saturdays are active when I have rites to perform. But it was nearly like the morning rain had infested my soul with something that needed to come out. I won’t say much more about it because I think it’s a blog entry all its own. But I felt very much like I was trying to climb out of my own skin again. There were other things that were impacting me in a way I hadn’t anticipated – things that I’ve done with and dealt with before with little to no issue. But yesterday, issues happened and I found myself sore in places I shouldn’t have been as well as flushed. Maybe I’m getting sick and my mind wandered with the illness that it’s trying to fight off. All I know is that this last week, when I thought of the rites and services for Saturday, I felt content and ready. Yesterday, as I attempted to prepare for them, I found myself wanting to slither away from myself and hide in a thicket of grass or in the sky.

Instead, I sat around and read.

I did other things like the laundry and cleaned a bit. I can’t very well go to the rites with a dirty house at my back. It seems a bit unseemly to do so. Amid all the wandering thoughts and the odd sensations and the reading of a book, I would stop now and again to clear up the detritus from the last week or so that I left to fester. I cleaned the table and I washed the dishes. I made sure the counter tops were cleaned and wiped with cleaner. I watched the clouds float lazily across the sky, some dark with impending rain and later, some pale and fluffy with the blue skies of a late spring day. Yesterday, it felt very much like Mother Nature couldn’t make up her mind about what she wanted the day to be like and I felt very much in line with her in all of that. Last night, thunder pealed and I saw a brief flash of lightning; I counted to ten before the thunderclap sounded. A few miles away, TH told me that the skies opened up and a torrential downpour flooded the streets. It didn’t here; we just heard thunder and had a few soft patters of rain.

I felt like Mother Nature yesterday, in a way. I was a little of this and I was a lot of that, but I wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be. I wanted to be surefooted and intent on the goal. And in a way, I was. I knew what I was about. I didn’t demure in the process of cleaning up and setting up the altar. I did find myself wandering a lot, though, as I wrote the petitions on their little bits of paper to place in a bowl at Sekhmet’s feet. While I wrote, I caught glimmers of emotional content, both from the petitioners themselves as well as from that other that I tend to associate with Sekhmet. Sometimes, she would be bemused and other times, she would be angry on behalf of the asker. Whatever the case may be, my own emotional feelings regarding the petitions were, for once, nonexistent. I had no opinion, either emotional or mental, on the writing but only on the cramp in my hand as I wrote.

It took me about two hours to complete it all and I don’t honestly know if that was because I was dicking around on the Internet while writing them down or if it was merely because there was a bit to write. Or maybe, it’s just the normal that this loquacious motherfucker rambles the fuck on when I submit the petitions. I try to be as specific as possible – something I am always counseling others to be in any instance. The gods, Sekhmet especially in my opinion, are queer when it comes to interpretations of the wants and desires of others. I often think that if I am not very specific about what it is people are asking for, then the wrong things will happen and I will feel less like I know what I’m doing and more like I’m fucking everything up. So, I write a lot, I supposed, far more than what most people submit to me in couched and flowery terms, sometimes a bit poetic in its sycophantic prose. I think Sekhmet is amused when I get in a flowery mood, a mood of poetry in my step and in my word. I think sometimes that it’s when I’m like that that the working is far better than it normally would.

I’m probably making this up anyway.

As I was cleaning off the altar space, making room for what I was going to be placing before her, I stopped myself often and stared down at the prayer beads that Autumn made for me a while back. I tend to touch them a lot, though I don’t really pray to them. They’re mostly a bauble right now, but I’ve found that if I’m feeling particularly “uncentered” about anything, I can just touch them and I’m okay for a bit. I found myself stroking the cool of the carnelian and lightly caressing the gold beading between the groups of carnelian. It’s always cool in my hand and maybe that’s why it brings me back into focus: usually, if I’m feeling “uncentered,” I end up feeling rather overheated. Maybe it’s the cool of the stones that is all my body needs. Whatever the case may be, as I cleaned off the altar and made sure there wasn’t a speck of dust, I stopped frequently to stroke the beads and to run my finger across the gold ankh. I wanted to feel the whole thing cool against my skin, but I didn’t dare touch it.

It was almost like, “I have requested my friend to create this thing in the name of Sekhmet,” but it’s really, all about her. I can touch it and I can feel something when I do so, but it’s really Sekhmet’s prayer beads. I just get to keep them safe upon her altar whenever she doesn’t want them near. I know that’s not the case – both S and I had discussed what use, if any, we would have for the beads though never came to a clear conclusion. Right now, it’s just a focal point, not just for the altar itself but also for me. It’s a focus so that when I am overheated and feeling a bit of blah and needing something and not knowing what that something is, I can just touch them and I am grounded for a bit. (Grounded as in, I no longer feel out of sorts, not in the meditation sort of way?)

I cleaned everything down, myself included, with Florida water. I figure that there are a ton of people out there who use the stuff for everything; I’ve heard it used in cures for people, honestly. I figure it can’t be too bad to feel a bit of citrus scented coolness on your body and on your altar. It’s a nice scent, really, and it is a bit more of a ground, I think, just like the prayer beads. The stuff I bought, in the beginning, specifically for the lwa whom I serve. But now, it’s come to the point where it’s a good bit of something when I’m cleaning everyone out – all the altars, turning them up and re-consecrating them after a good dust and cleanse. It’s also helpful, as I said, when I put it on my face and on the back of my neck. Sometimes, I fling droplets in my hair and let it evaporate slowly. My hair still smells of the Florida water now, hours later.

I needed to ground myself in some way before I did what I was set to do. I think I managed, at least.

I’ve been kind of dieting, which made the whole “here is some food, too” bit kind of difficult. I don’t think people realize how small actual serving sizes are, unless they already eat the proper serving size. I am, of course, a product of American gluttony and have always had large portions in my evening meal that are probably half to a full portion above what they should be. So, I had to keep in mind what my calorie counter was telling me when I decided on the course of feeding Sekhmet. I also had to decide on things that were healthy. Of course, I would like to think that I tend to feed her healthy bits anyway because I like to give her my favorite things as a form of sacrifice, which includes a lot of fruit. (Devo is always making fun of me for the whole grape thing and I’m not terribly sorry either because damn it, I really fucking love grapes.) I didn’t have much to spare since I’ve been lazy this week and didn’t bother with the grocery shopping, but I had a few things to hand that I thought was appropriate.

Everything I gave to Sekhmet last night was a form of sacrifice.

And I think that’s probably just as important as the rite itself, you know?

It’s all fine and dandy to give daily offerings. For me, it’s not really a bit of sacrifice to do it. I give cool water and the play food that I have on hand. But when it comes to doing the services I promised in her name, as well as when celebrating the myriad of festivals in her name, I feel that sacrifice needs to be in there somehow. Sometimes, it’s something small and minor – a bit of time, some energy. But when it comes to the bigger things, like rites can be, I think more sacrifice needs to be provided. So, I sacrificed everything I thought of that was good for me and knew that while it was a small meal, it would at least go over fairly well. I sacrificed peanut M&Ms, diet Coke, my precious Crystal Skull vodka, cheese, bread, an apple, and ‘Nilla Wafers. Later, I sacrificed them all right back into my gullet and enjoyed the feel of them there. (I didn’t bother to eat dinner in prep for the rite.) And while I didn’t end up “eating dinner” until 10:30 or so at night, I was at least pleasantly muzzy with the feel of all the things I had first given to my god and then later, given to myself.

For once, I didn’t have fresh flowers to provide to her. I did end up using a fair bit of the red rose petals I have stored in my fridge for these types of things. They’ve been in the refrigerator for almost two months now and some of them have started to turn. I was looking in the bag, pulling out the bright red ones to lay upon her altar, scattered artistically about. While I looked, I saw the brown of rot on some of them and pulled those out in the hopes that I could keep some of them for next month. As I pulled them out, the wetness of the interior of the bag clutched to my finger tips and the brown bits stuck a bit, too. I looked at my hand, feeling like my fingers were making love or something to the dead bits of petal, they were so thoroughly covered in the stuff. I thought about those flower petals, the blackened edges between the bright red and the brown of the death.

I thought Sekhmet would think that highly appropriate under the circumstances.

Everything lit; a quick execration above the petitions; and a feast fit for a goddess.

Everything lit; a quick execration above the petitions; and a feast fit for a goddess.

Sometimes, I think that these rites and services are never going to go anywhere. I see a lot of repeat customers asking for the same things. When I’m writing the petitions, I will see the same things asked for amongst different people, but I’ve noticed a trend with some people; they always ask the same things. I wonder at those people, who put their faith in what I’m doing. I was doing a bit of wondering about them as I carefully flung brown petals from my fingertips into the trash, thinking about Sekhmet. I wondered if the brown bits on the petals wasn’t a bit of metaphor for them and their requests – the brown a hint of not fully grasping the seeds that they must plant in order to see their requests met or perhaps the brown a hint that they were on the right path and the shit would begin to decay before their eyes, breaking open the path to where they want to go – or maybe the metaphor was more about me than about their requests. I’m a bit of brown here and there, ragged black lines through my soul preventing the rot from reaching the bright red health of the rest of my soul.

Or maybe, I’ve been living too much with poetic sentiments and am only looking for something that is not there.

Either way, I culled the rotten petals from the bag, thinking that I should probably put them in another baggy for next month since I think there may be mold in the bag itself. Maybe I, too, am molding. Or maybe, the repeat customers’ obstacles are molding, ready to part beneath their forceful demands. I suppose it doesn’t really matter where the metaphor lies here. As long as it, maybe, gives comfort to those who need it.

Oracular Session – April 2014.

I remember the day I thought about oracular sessions for the first time. I was driving on my way to work, still trying to parse out how to go about and offer services in Sekhmet’s name. I can remember that drive because, one moment, I was in the state of Massachusetts and then the next minute, I was about five minutes away from work. I got very heavily in an internal debate with myself, the first moment I started thinking about it. I knew that this was something beyond my skill set, beyond anything I could possibly offer. But the worst part about it was the approval I felt coming from Sekhmet the moment I had the thought. It made sense, in a way, to offer the service. I had been seeing, for some time, many people doing the oracular session thing for their gods, but I had hardly ever seen the case with ancient Egyptian deities and their recon/revival/whatever devotees. So, in that way, it made sense to me: I was offering a niche and I like to shove myself into tight, claustrophobic niches that leave me panicking.

Evidently.

Accurate representation of me about 95% of the time.

Accurate representation of me about 95% of the time.

But the main reason why I wasn’t really interested in doing so was because I didn’t know what the fuck that shit was about. All of those people offering those services – how do? It was like some mystical puzzle that had no pieces and there was no picture reference, anyway, to build that puzzle. I definitely had no idea how in the world they had done those things. I didn’t understand how they offered this thing, this mystical and weird and foreign thing, and then made words make sense to the people they were talking to. None of this made any sense to me, whatsoever. But it was the one thing that Sekhmet seemed very keen on. I could have decided, then and there, that my confusion outweighed her approval in the matter. But there’s something that most people may not realize about me or maybe they do and it’s just shocking to me: I always want approval. I especially want the approval of my deities.

I spent a lot of my rides into work worrying about how to do this. I decided that, no matter what, I was going to use cartomancy. But I have to admit that Sekhmet was giving me yet more odd emotive reactions regarding this. I couldn’t tell if that’s what she had in mind. I had, accidently and on purpose channeled deities before. I didn’t like it. I found the whole experience very painful and very confusing and very, very horrific each time. I found that the whole thing left me shaky, tired, aggravated, nauseated, and without any fucking spoons whatsoever. But Sekhmet has this thing where she likes to just have me do something. This should be quite clear, considering the fact that she never once explained to me the whole initiation process or what it was even for, but left me guessing. She doesn’t even to “go into the details,” I guess, and that drives me fucking insane. So, while I was willing to do the thing for people who may be interested, I was terrified about how I was going to actually do it.

I didn’t really do anything at all to prepare myself for what was going to happen. I didn’t know how to prepare myself. I could have napped all day. I could have lazed around. But I honestly don’t think anything I could have done in order to prep would have really helped. As I have made quite clear, I didn’t know what to expect since Sekhmet isn’t fond of details and I didn’t know what I would need to do in order to prepare myself. Did I meditate? Did I get really drunk? Did I get high as a kite (not that I’m into that sort of thing)? Did I try to reach a higher level of consciousness? Did I twiddle my thumbs? Did I read a book and hope that everything just suddenly fit into place? Like, what do people do to prepare themselves to do readings on behalf of people who want to reach out to a specific deity? I don’t know if what I did, at all, was really preparation but I had a pretty good day.

When it finally came time to do it, I realized that I was really fucking tired. I tend to think that I do my best card readings when my eyes are bleary and everything starts to blur at the edges because all I want to do is close my eyes. I’m not sure if I’m weird here, but I assume I am. Maybe it’s just because being tired allows me to relax the rigid, asshole-like control I have over everything and gives me a better ability to interpret what the cards are seeing. Or, maybe it’s just, simply, that I am able to zone out really well when I’m tired and I’m not so good at relinquishing control when I’m not tired. Whatever the case may be, I felt like shuffling cards and zoning out long enough to pull cards while mulling over whatever the request was about and then writing down whatever impressions I got from what I was seeing.

Sometimes, I got like little emotional impressions. Without getting into specifics: my first reading asked a personal query, specifically in relation to Sekhmet. I felt very much as though she were sighing and rolling her eyes. I got exasperation, aggravation, irritation, and put upon when I asked her the question. The amount of emotional overload I went through when I was asking for advice on behalf of another Sekhmet kid was made ten times worse because whatever shields I may have normally were completely gone. As I said, probably because of how tired I was, I was better able to give up my rigid, asshole-like control and get into the swing of things easier. Unfortunately, this meant that I was also able to get impressions that were in conjunction with my own impressions or complete opposite of my own impressions. Things that I knew I was feeling in relation to some of the requests were magnified beyond what they would normally be if I had been as tired as I was.

I’ve thought about this, trying to discern what the fuck was going on here.

I found that I was reacting in an overly emotional way to some of these queries. It’s possible that these emotional outbursts – at one point, I ended up crying for no reason other than that I pulled a fucking card – were due to any number of things. I’m trying to be rational here and not jump on the “I totes was hand-in-hand with my goddess” bandwagon here. But the emotional outbursts that I felt are difficult to parse out and decide what could be from other and what could be from me. I don’t really have any reason to be over emotional about anything that I was asking, though. The answers don’t fucking matter to me; they don’t impact me at all. So, why was I crying because of the Sekhmet kid who got a slot this month? I’ve decided that there are a couple of legitimate reasons as to my reactions: I was over emotional due to ovulation (TMI, right?); I was over emotional due to lack of sleep; I was over emotional due to the stress levels of this past week; I was over emotional because Sekhmet just makes me emotional sometimes. I was over emotional because I was really connected to the god.

I honestly don’t know what the answer here is. Anything could be possible.

I found that, in some cases, I was staring eye-to-eye with the statue of Sekhmet on my altar to give a better indication of what was going on or what I needed to know to relate back to the people asking. This, actually, left me very disconcerted. I don’t normally make eye contact with the statue. Hell, when I dream and/or astral in regards to Sekhmet, I very rarely look her in the eye. I honestly don’t know if it’s because I still feel so much less than in comparison to her or if it’s just a habit that I can’t break. Whatever the case may be, I found that whenever I would look her, eye-to-eye as one would when having a conversation with someone, I found myself uncomfortable with the direct focus. I found it really fucking difficult to maintain that eye contact, but also, I found it difficult to break that eye contact. Talk about a really weird and confusing mess, right? Whatever the case may be, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes, staring into her eyes, so to speak, helped to aid me and whenever I did, I found that I was very stressful to maintain that eye contact.

I did, also, find that the little square bauble that TH’s aunt made for me after Christmas calmed me after those moments. I tend to think of this bauble as the “Ma’at Bauble.” It is gold and glitzy and has glittery ostrich feathers inside. It’s actually really beautiful and the moment I saw it, I knew that this was going on Sekhmet’s altar. It’s a sort of sign post or reminder to maintain ma’at, to maintain balance, but also that one of Sekhmet’s main functions is to protect and maintain ma’at as well. Whatever it is to me doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that when I felt disconcerted or overly emotional about things, I found that just looking at it was very calming. I could go back to doing what it was I needed to complete before going to bed. I found that it was easier to look at that glittery, ritzy, over-the-top-yet-gorgeous bauble and keep on, keepin’ on.

I did also note that my body had strange reactions to some of the requests, as well. When I stopped and tried to ask questions for myself, I ended up getting deep blooms of pain at my third eye and at both temples. However, as I continued to ask questions for other people, the response was dizziness and vertigo. I also received strange muscle spasms the more I asked questions. I’ve decided that this is probably due to the fact that I was sitting, mostly, in a hard backed chair all day and I was using another hard-backed chair to sit in while doing the thing. But the headache and the physical reactions were definitely not caused by how I was sitting or anything. I had felt perfectly fine, though tired, prior to sitting down. I’m not sure if it was just that I was asking my body to do more than I usually do, in a religious or spiritual sense, and that was my body’s reaction or if I can just expect that to happen all the time.

Only time will tell, I suppose.

The emotional fall out is still ongoing, I have noted. I am not a very emotional person, demonstrative or otherwise. I am very rigid and very controlling regarding my emotions. I don’t think that people need to see them, at all, and I try very hard to maintain this sort of tin-women façade. Sometimes, I fail and other times, I don’t. However, I found that as I was sending out the interpretations to everyone this morning, I found that I continued to have an emotional reaction regarding some of the readings I had done. I did find that the more emotional a reaction I was having was directly related to how close to the person who was asking. As I thought back, I think that was the case with some of the emotional reactions I was having the previous evening, though not all of them. But that makes sense! I’m going to, you know, have some feels regarding people if I care about them especially if I’m telling them things of a personal nature. I mean, that’s how friendships work or something, I think. But I’ve also found that the emotional reactions are still happening, which is not something I was expecting at all.

I have to admit that I spent a lot of my time, leading up to this month’s session, freaking the fuck out. Now that I have at least one experience under my belt, I’m not as freaked out. It kind of helps that the people who have received their readings have mostly all commented and many of them have been positive responses. So, I think that is a major weight that has been lifted. I also discovered that actually interpreting what I was seeing was easier than I thought it would be. For some stupid reason, I didn’t see the whole “story writing” that I ended up doing as a possibility even though that’s what I do when it comes to other forms of cartomancy. So, it’s kind of a relief to discover that one type of cartomancy, even if being interpreted from an intuitive and historical standpoint versus what a book tells me it should mean, is kind of the same as other types of cartomancy.

I did discover a good deal of other things, but the most important discovery was that, well, I can do this.

Petition to Sekhmet – March 2014.

When I agreed to do these things for Sekhmet, I thought of myself as just someone who interceded on behalf of others. I understood the reasoning behind it – Kemeticism, in and of itself, is changing and so, too, are the needs of the many who are Kemetic. By providing these services, I’m recreating something that was around in antiquity, sort of. While I’m sure my methodology differs drastically from what may have happened in ancient Egypt, I’m willing to act as the intermediary people need in order to get their messages to her. And when it was first thought of, first proposed, it made absolute sense. I’ve spoken with another Sekhmet kid, Fanny, who evidently used to do the same thing (perhaps a little differently from my own concept of it). And it made me wonder if I was just filling in until she was ready or if this would be something I would be doing years down the road, perhaps with fewer and fewer requests as the years went by. I still haven’t found out the answer on that one, but since Sekhmet appears fond of my flailing about, screeching unintelligibly, I doubt I’ll ever really know the answer.

Yesterday was a mish-mash kind of day, which left me feeling tired and cranky by the time I had to write petitions. I think that part of it was the anonymous ask someone dumped in my inbox on Thursday. I answered it yesterday and posted that response, which was apparently received well by others. However, the fact that I had to respond to that query bothered me, the second I received it all the way up to and including the moment I hit the publish button. I really just don’t understand people. I don’t know if, maybe, it’s the platform I use to get the word out there (mostly Tumblr) or if it’s just because I posted my reminder in the Tumblr-pagan tag. Whatever the case may be, this is the first time I have received a response like that and I’ve been doing this for fourfive months now. I should get used to these types of things, but the first time is probably always a little prickly.

I found that I kept thinking about that ask throughout the day and I’d get miffed all over again. I’m one of those people who harp on things a lot, in case you weren’t aware. I harp and harp and harp in my head until I explode unless I can use the power of my mind to shunt my thoughts elsewhere. I was successful in that a bit of the day and not-so-successful the rest of the day. Like I said, yesterday was a mish-mash. I found myself questioning my process and found myself questioning everything, which is fine and dandy. However, I shouldn’t have let some anonymous dickhead get to me. And that’s the crux of it, too. Some anonymous person disagreed with my methodology, my process, and my religious practice enough to think that they should place something anonymously in my inbox to state their opinion. I think the reason, really, that I got so het up about it the days prior to answering it and yesterday was because I don’t question anyone else’s religious practice just because I don’t know what the fuck is going through their heads, what leads them to what they do, or anything so I expect the same courtesy. Of course, when people write about things, I can draw conclusions, or not, but I still don’t bother with telling them how they shouldn’t do something because of X, Y, and Z. UPG is UPG, you know?

So, because my mind does whatever it wants and gets overactive regarding things, yesterday was a bit of an off day.

I lazed around the house after doing some cleaning and then watched terrible horror movies in the evening. In case no one was aware, this is something I do when I feel like I need to escape from the world – I enjoy really bad horror movies. I’m not talking about those obviously terrible science fiction movies that the SyFy network puts out every week, either. I’m talking pretty much most of the 80s horror movies with its bad hair, promotion of smoking, impromptu and over-the-top sex scenes, and really overwrought music choices. I chose Forbidden World (1982) last night and I honestly have no idea what the point in the movie was. It was just what I needed to get me back up to speed. But, of course, since I spent most of the day in a haze of my own thoughts, cleaning in between, and watched an entire terrible movie, I was late getting my start on.

It all felt so off.

I’ve thought about that feeling a lot. I don’t know why it was something I was feeling. Maybe it’s because I’ve been in a doubting period since Lent. Maybe it’s because of Lent. I’m not supposed to religion, really, and yet there I was, religion-ing. Even though Papa Legba reminded me that promises are promises and that I had to do what I said I would do, it still felt kind of weird. This is a time of reflection and introspection and moody thoughts and sitting around while I figure all of this shit out. Instead, I was going about and doing what I said I would, so maybe that’s it. I honestly don’t know. I just know that it felt so off.

I seriously considered putting off the rite. I mean, it doesn’t help anyone if I’m in an emotional state that isn’t exactly conducive to what in the world I’m trying to put out there. I thought about posting somewhere on Tumblr that I had put off the rite because of things and that it would happen… at some point in future. But, I only had a handful of petitions this month. And maybe that was another reason why I was feeling so off about the thing. I had apparently been used to the 40 or more petitions I normally got and I think I got about ten of them. Maybe it’s because I didn’t put the call out sooner – I forgot to put out the post on Facebook and didn’t do anything with Tumblr until Thursday, when I try to get things out the day before – or maybe it’s because people are tired of this shit already. I don’t know what the reason was, but I didn’t get as many as I usually did.

But as I thought about it, I realized that wasn’t such a bad thing. My emotional state was kind of bleh and since most of the people who had put in requests were mostly thanking Sekhmet for various things, I didn’t have to seriously consider how intent my heka was before I wrote out the petitions. Since I had so few petitions, I could get away with fewer offerings. And since I could get away with fewer offerings, I didn’t have to spend a whole hell of a lot of time actually doing what needed to be done. I figured I could be in and out within 15 minutes and back to watching really bad horror movies.

Here’s the thing – I wanted direction here. I wanted so much direction. I wanted someone to take my hand and tell me what to do. Do you ever just feel that way sometimes? Do you ever just want someone older, wiser, and more mature than you to tell you what to do? I’m supposed to be the adult and yet, a lot of times I end up feeling more like a child who needs her mother to instruct her on how to properly do anything or how to come to a logical conclusion. I don’t know if I chose a logical conclusion by moving forward with last night’s right. Mostly, I was being hammered by that commitment feeling that people have. You know the one where you said you were going to do something so your mind kills you slowly, second by second, until you actually do what you said you were going to do? Yeah, it was that one. So, instead of having someone hold my hand and instruct me properly, I stood up and went about my business.

I had bought flowers earlier. There wasn’t much to choose from at the store that I went to. Since my local store was out of my favorite apples, I had to go across town to another grocery store that I knew would have it (and my yogurt) stocked. I knew when I walked in that I would be kind of picking over some crappy choices for flower arrangements, but it was a sacrifice, in my opinion. (I’m technically dieting right now so I need apples and yogurt for breakfast.) I found a pretty decent bouquet with some sweetheart roses. It was the roses that did me in. I love roses. I think they’re the fucking greatest flower ever and I don’t even know why. There are millions of other flowers out there that can do me in – like lily of the valley – but it’s the damn roses that suckered me in to that bouquet. It was white and yellow, two colors I associate with Sekhmet often if no one has noticed, and I found one with just enough different flower types that appealed to me. But it was those sweetheart roses, man, which really dragged me in. Those damn flowers were so small and sculpted to just about tug my heart strings near in half.

I sacrificed one of my precious flowers in offering to her. I don’t buy a lot of apples all at once. Apples are one of those expensive foods that are almost like a luxury in my house. Well, not almost like, but very much a luxury. But I love apples. I love cutting them in half and slicing them into little chunks to eat. I love the skin that gets caught in my teeth if I don’t eat it just right. I love the juice that squirts all over my hands when I dig in. I love everything about Macintosh apples. My friend is in love with honey crisp apples, but I’m a Macintosh girl and always have been. (You should see my face when my stores stop carrying them.) I cut one of those bad boys in half and arranged it on the plate. I stared at the little star like center on both halves, feeling like I was getting better at this cutting them in half thing. You see, I try to cut them in half to show the star in the middle? But, I usually fail. I like cutting them that way because the star reminds me of the ancient Egyptian stars in their artwork and I like the symbolism there. I cut it in half and, for once, I was able to see the little star thing on both sides.

I added some orange-zest chocolate I had laying around. I don’t like oranges and I don’t like zest, but I like orange chocolate. This stuff is stronger than those chocolate orange things they start selling around now. You know the ones where you smash them into a table to open them? Since I have the Lindt stuff (sale, baby), its dark chocolate or cocoa 70% or some shit. So I don’t like it. But I nibble on it as the days go by, one square at a time, because even though I cannot abide by the things, I can’t waste that shit. (You should see the face TH gives me when I force him to eat the chili chocolate I have left over.)

I added a slice of bread because I wanted to kick it a little old school. I haven’t offered her real bread in a while. I usually offer the gods those little dollhouse foodstuffs that I bought a while ago. A friend of mine sent me some more dollhouse food things (yeah, baby! More choices!) and so now, I can give them fruit as well as bread. But I haven’t offered real, live, toast-it-in-the-toaster bread in a while. So, I figured I should probably do that since it’s a staple and I was looking for something to even out the offering thus far.

My final addition were grapes. In case no one has noticed – and I really don’t know how anybody hasn’t noticed this – I fucking love grapes. I hate red grapes, but I love green grapes. They were on sale for $2.49/pound and I knew that I was leaving the store with some fucking grapes. They’re normally like $4.99/pound and there was no way I was passing that up. Besides, I better get all my grape love in now. Since that drought has hit California, which feeds a lot of America, I’m sure the price of grapes will go up soon enough. I may as well give all of my favorite foods to the gods now, while I can still afford to do so. I wish grapes weren’t so expensive, though. I wish I had a green thumb because maybe I’d try to grow my own grapes. (But since I live in Massachusetts, which has really bad soil for growing certain things if I recall correctly, I’d probably fail anyway. Then again, maybe not because my neighbors used to have grape arbors all in their front yard until they took them down last year.) Man, I really love grapes.

I gave Sekhmet a glass of water, cooled with ice. I thought about giving her alcohol. I even thought about giving her diet Coke, even though I can’t drink it because of Lent. I thought about making her a mixed drink of diet Coke and vanilla vodka. I thought about just giving her a shot of vodka. I thought about lots of things, but I hearkened back to the “kicking it old school.” Cool water and bread were staple offerings in ancient Egypt. And this was a meal of thanksgiving, mostly. I figured I could go with a time tested libation and leave it at that. I placed it in her little star goblet that I love beyond belief.

I set up my altar just so. That actually takes me the most time because I’m incredibly anal retentive about this. I like having everything even. If no one has noticed when I leave my offerings on a plate, I make sure that they’re doubled so that it evens out. When it comes to leaving things on her altar, even after the petition is over, I like to have everything centered and make sure that there is evenness on either side of that center. I switched out my small heka jar for a big one. (The white thing in the middle.) I placed the prayer beads that my lovely Dodgy made for me on top of my heka jar. Then I placed the flowers and the goblet on either side of Sekhmet’s little ben-ben area. Down the center, I placed the offerings right in front of her and then added incense and the petitions in a little cup.

Everything all set up and set before the Lady of the Flame.

Everything all set up and set before the Lady of the Flame.

I finished everything off by lighting a red candle for her.

After leaving everything for her, while I munched the grapes that I had left for Sekhmet, I stopped in front of that altar and watched the candle flame for a while. I don’t know if I went into a trance state because I don’t think I really know what that is. But I watched that candle flame until there were blue-black afterimages in my eyes. I watched that flame pole-dance around the wick and generally do what a flame is supposed to do to a candle. I stared at it and thought about my feelings. I thought about what it was like to doubt. I thought about what everything I had gone through in the last few months. I thought about that ask that bothered me. I thought about what I was doing. I worried about all of it in those moments while I stared at that candle flame. I knew real and serious doubt. I knew real and serious worry. I knew it all and I slipped my petition, my request to her, in with the others. She probably won’t answer it – she seems to like the Kermit arm flail. It doesn’t matter, really. I think I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing even if I feel like a weirdo and a liar a lot of the time.

The candle flame spoke to me, I think, and it said that everything is okay.

I felt a little calmer after that, at least. If nothing else, I was able to sit down and veg out enough to fall asleep to 300.

Petition to Sekhmet – February 2014.

This week, going into the services for this past weekend, I felt a little more grounded and a lot less anxious than I did in January. I think that’s because I had the January services under my belt. I have to admit that, even with my practice runs in November and December of last year, there was something daunting and terrifying about starting up the actual process in January. I’ve thought about the reason behind this and I have to assume it’s because the services I provided in November and December weren’t only just a practice run to me. It was a way for me to just kind of throw it out there and into the community and see what happened. And back then, even with the overwhelming amount of requests I received both times, I could always have just said, “Well, that was fun,” and stopped there. But once January came around, I didn’t have that “stopping” option anymore and I had to move forward.

This month, however, I felt that I was better prepared. I knew what expect, sort of, from the amount of requests that I would receive to what specifically I felt I needed in order to see the requests through. I also knew what to expect from the aftermath, as well. It may not be noticeable from the pictures that I post or the comments that I make, but this shit is draining. Since I’m not asking for anything in return and honestly wouldn’t want anything in return for this, I have to go at this based on whatever spoon allotment and energy reserves I have to function. Since I had given myself more time to prepare, knowing what to expect after the services had been completed, I was better able to budget myself the week before hand. To keep myself above the waves, so to speak, I added more calendar notifications throughout the week so that I knew when to start resting up and when I needed to ignore things going on around me so that I could better focus on the upcoming services I was planning.

As January’s services were about utilizing the New Year energy to promote goals for the petitions, February was a continuation of that goal. In January, a feast of blockages were provided to Sekhmet. She would eat whatever blocks she chose and help move people to the next step of whatever it was they were seeking. This month was a continuation of sorts to last month’s services. Only instead of just feasting on some blocks, we were requesting that Sekhmet aid people in punching through those walls and get to the other side. The goal was to ask that she provide her destructive energies for people to harness and bust through the blocks that were still there or that had recently accumulated after January’s services. And once I put the call out for people to submit requests, they came pouring in.

They kept falling off the table and just generally being all very unwilling to stay put.

They kept falling off the table and just generally being all very unwilling to stay put.

In all honesty, I think I received more requests this months than I did last month. Or at least, it felt like that was the case. I received requests on various platforms open to people to put in those requests. And it took me about an hour of non-stop writing to create the petition papers that I use for these requests. I noticed that a lot of the requests that came in last month were more about the physical and the mundane than anything else. There were, of course, people requesting for things across the board, from the physical and mundane to the spiritual and the astral. What I noticed with this month is that a lot of people felt like they had walls to burst through regarding their religious and spiritual matters. The reason I mention this is because I hope that January’s services provided people the ability to destroy what was preventing them – the mundane in many cases – from seeking what they felt they needed in their spiritual lives. While this isn’t the case across the board as there were requests for mundane things to get destroyed this month, I thought it was definitely interesting that many more requests were more about spiritual levels.

Another reason I mention this is because of this Tumblr post that was going around yesterday. It seemed pretty timely that I provide the rites the night before and then, immediately, the next day, someone was asking about painful-yet-necessary rebirth processes the next day. I’m not saying that my services created that, by any means. But I do find it significant that many petition requests were regarding spiritual/religious blocks that, once broken through, would create a rebirth process for the petitioner. It’s probably just coincidence.

One of the staple offerings I buy for these are flowers. I love fresh cut flowers and if I had more vases and more space in my house for vases of flowers, I would probably go broke with the amount of flowers I would have. But Sat, someone is bound to say, why not have plants? Well, I have no window space to grow my own flowers and my yard is currently under about a foot and a half of snow. So, fresh cut flowers it is! When perusing the selections, I was hoping for something bright red to symbolize Sekhmet’s destructive capabilities. Unfortunately, or fortunately, my local grocery store didn’t have much in the way of red flowers. I did find a huge bouquet of yellow blossoms that kind of reminded me of fireworks. I liked the imagery since there were little white blooms in with the yellow ones. (I’m sorry, but I don’t remember flower names. They’re all pretty blooms to me.) And I thought that the yellow “firework” blooms would work pretty well for what I was trying to convey. After all, when I put out the request, my exact wording was, “bitch-slapping.” While fireworks and bitch-slapping aren’t quite the same, the imagery holds in my mind.

I decided to pare down the huge bouquet when I brought them home. I wanted to keep the three white roses that I still had on Sekhmet’s altar from the Feast of the Two Lands that I celebrated the week before. The white roses weren’t in the best of health, but that imagery, also, felt appropriate to me. It was like by adding the browning white roses to the firework yellow blooms, I was incorporating what the petitioners needed to get to the next step. A little of the old, mixed with the new, and we have a beautifully choreographed and over-filled vase of offerings ready to go.

For the meal portion, I chose to go with fruits again. I actually prefer to offer fruits to the gods for various reasons. A part of it is because fruits are very expensive. There are a lot of people who talk about eating healthy and everything, but the amount of fruits and vegetables that I can purchase for $20 is a hell of a lot less than the frozen meals that I can pick up for a buck a box. So, by offering fruits to the gods, it’s definitely a form of sacrifice for me especially since I’m not going to offering anything that I wouldn’t eat myself. Staple fruits are, of course, oranges, apples, and grapes. I didn’t add grapes to this month’s services since they weren’t on sale anymore, but I did purchase a delicious apple and a juicy orange to provide. I topped it all off with three jalapeños.

Another UPG I have of Sekhmet is that she really, really, really likes the spicy peppers. This isn’t actually all that surprising, I guess, because she tends to have a spicy flavor to her interactions. Part of the reason I incorporated jalapeños was because I wanted to give her something that I felt she would truly enjoy. However, I also wanted to incorporate the spiciness that stems from eating those types of peppers. I felt that by adding a spicier item than just my sweeter things, then it would behoove her to help people bust through with the fiery aftertaste of those peppers. I thought about giving her habanero peppers, but since I’ve never offered them before and I hear that the pepper shit can stick to your fingers hours afterward, I decided to stick with the usual jalapeños. Maybe never month, I’ll go for broke and check out those tiny little habanero peppers.

To top off the offerings, she got a broken up piece of her chili chocolate.

All set up and ready to go. And of course, rose petals everywhere because who doesn't love rose petals?

All set up and ready to go. And of course, rose petals everywhere because who doesn’t love rose petals?

I set everything up on her altar in a pleasing arrangement. On top of the bowl of petitions and the food offerings, I also pulled out the healing candle I had created in November of last year. I chose this candle in an effort to heal whatever destruction the petitioners may end up facing after the petition was over. This was to speed any healing that may be required after the blocks were broken up. I also chose this candle because I felt that I had overcompensated in using as much “bitch-slapping” imagery as I could. So, I wanted to mitigate any negative affects people would go through when the walls were broken open. As much as all of these busting open walls may need to come down, it can be daunting and quite painful, at times, to have it happen all at once. I was hoping that, at least, I could make things a tad bit easier for those that needed it.

After the rites were completed, I sat down in front of the altar and chattered at Sekhmet for a while. Since things have been picking up between us, I’ve found that our discussions are much less frequent. It seemed appropriate to discuss with her a lot of [personal] religious shit while waiting on her okay to blow out the candle to go to bed. I’ll admit that a lot of the discussion hinged on my insecurities regarding these services. While I felt quite calm, cool, and collected leading up to and during the services, I have to admit that it’s the after part that kind of gets to me. I never know if she’s going to bother to see any of the petition requests through. Of course, in same vein, I don’t know if any of the petitioners are going to get to work on whatever blocks/wall-breaking that need to be done, either. But since I don’t know if she’ll actually bother – and let’s just remind ourselves that this is the Lady of the Destruction, the Lady of Power, the Lady of I-Decide-What-To-Do-and-When-To-Do-It that we’re reaching out to – and that always kind of wears on me.

When I was finally finished with the whole thing, I had to admit that I felt much better about things. I can’t say if my conversation, or chattering, was what was needed here. Or if my pre-planning for much of the week beforehand left me feeling in better spirits. All I do know is that I didn’t feel as depressed or blank as I did after January’s services. Again, this could just be because of any number of things, but really, February’s aftercare, thus far, has been minimal. I’m a little shaky and overtired now, but that’s also after a full day of work and work-related bullshit, so you know, maybe I really am getting the hang of this.

Petition to Sekhmet – January 2014.

I think doubt and uncertainty kind of follow people around like little dark gray clouds, sitting behind their shoulders, and whisper really nasty things in peoples’ ears. Whether or not the people are listening while the whispering is going on is an entirely different story. But I know that I get little snippets of whispers, sometimes, about things that I would really like to go well. The learning curve that I’ve been slipping and sliding on lately has been that, chances are, everything will fall apart in one area and be completely fine in another area with no issues whatsoever. I don’t know; this is kind of just a theory, but there are days where I’m pretty sure everything I touch will either be irrevocably destroyed or completely undone in a matter of seconds.

What always ends up surprising me the most is when neither thing end up happening. Like, what is that? Why the hell did the worries, fears, and anxieties not happen? How is it that what I was hoping would happen actually ended up happening for this thing when it hasn’t happened for all the other things going on in my life? In the realm of the spiritual, sometimes, I just assume that things are going well because the netjeru really are very interested in what sort of endeavors we get ourselves into so they make sure that what we are hoping will happen actually ends up happening.

That’s kind of how I’m feeling right now with my rites and services.

When I officially sent out the call early in the week, I thought that absolutely no one would be interested in reaching out, through me, to Sekhmet. I pretty much assumed that it was the beta testing I did for November and December that would go really well and then I wouldn’t hear another thing from anyone else. Then, someone sent me an E-mail request and I was like, “Okay, well this will be the only one.” And this feeling just kept following me around in a haze all week long until I felt wrung out with the amount of anxiety.

So, honestly, color me surprised when I started getting inundated with more requests.

I’m uncertain if I really learned a lesson with all of this. I don’t know if I can say that sometimes, things just really do work out and that’s it or if my thought that the netjeru really do watch over what we do in their name because they want to see it succeed. I also don’t know if I won’t have an anxiety-ridden week next month when it’s time for the next round of rites and services. What I did learn here, though, because I actually did learn something is that, yeah, there really is a need here, in the community, for things like this.

I wonder, sometimes, if the need is because of how dark the world looks around us. We’re still in the “Great Recession” and many peoples’ outlooks are as dark as they were at the start. I’m seeing a lot of posts asking for monetary assistance on Tumblr and I’m seeing a lot of depression, anxiety, and terror flooding the Internet, as well. I think that’s why the need is so great in our community. And honestly, I may not be doing as well as I would hope right now, but if my semi-stability is enough to give people just what they need in a time where uncertainty and anxiety flood them at every turn, then I’m more than willing to be the tool they need.

Besides, sometimes, it’s just really nice to feel needed and wanted by complete strangers.

I knew that this month was still a sort of start to the new year cycle. I wanted to kind of incorporate that when I began working on what my calendar would look like. Just as I did with Papa Legba on New Year’s Day, I decided I would use the fierce, destructive power that Sekhmet had behind her in an effort to better assist the people who needed some assistance out there. So, I put out the request that Sekhmet would feast on any and all blocks that the petitioner’s felt that were hindering them from moving forward.

Before even submitting the call to put in requests, I received an E-mailed request. I was pretty excited because, maybe, that meant that my fears would be unfounded. So, when I actually put out the request later this week, I was pleased with the amount of petitions that came through. What I failed to take into consideration was, per usual, how long it would take me to write them all down again. I thought I gave myself enough time – I wanted to get started at about 8:30 for the rest of the prep – but I ended up writing for about an hour. Either I was just taking more breaks than usual, which is possible, or there was just a lot more that people needed this month.

Everyone's all neatly folded and ready to be re-homed in the heka jar until Wep-Ronpet.

Everyone’s all neatly folded and ready to be re-homed in the heka jar until Wep-Ronpet.

In either case, I did manage to get every request down to paper. I also added someone who didn’t request anything. I am pretty good friends with the person in question and I’ve been speaking with them, personally, about a lot of things. I decided to add them based on our conversations and knowing that they would never actually ask for themselves. I also added myself in there. I’m not sure if she’ll answer my request because she really likes the idea of my doing things on my own without asking for assistance – something about making sure I can take care of myself and see to my own need or something – but sometimes, even those of us who are relatively stable need some added assistance.

I was able to buy flowers this round because my local grocery store was having a massive sale on some flowers. I found tulips for $4, which is a massively huge deal. It’s also the first time I’ve seen tulips in any context. Most of the flower bunches at the two stores I purchase flowers at have a standard selection of things like carnations, roses, lily, and asters. So, I was incredibly happy to finally get something new and different for one of my rites.

Someone sent me a private message last night, letting me know that some of their UPG indicates that Sekhmet really likes tulips. I’m uncertain if I can confirm that UPG at this time, but I found it pretty interesting that the tulips were opening pretty early on. They didn’t completely open but when I had placed them in the vase, they were tightly closed. After setting my altar properly and placing the flowers down, I found quite a few of them opening. Someone told me that it was probably because of the heat in my home – and I don’t deny that as a possibility because I know very little about how flowers react to temperatures in the home – but I also thought that, maybe, it just meant she really liked them. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for more tulips and continue testing this until I can make a steady pronouncement on whether I should add tulips to my UPG.

I set up the plate of offerings next. I chose to go with only fruits for last night’s rite. Besides, the pepperoni bread that I had made for dinner didn’t come out as well as I had hoped, so I didn’t think it was up to her strict standards. I chose the fruits that I tend to associate with her the most.

Fruits.

Fruits.

In my UPG, she really likes oranges. As an Eye of Re, the symbolism here is pretty obvious. There’s just something really sunny and cheerful about oranges, so I tend to just associate them with every solar deity that I can think of. I don’t even remember where I read this, though I know it was probably during my more eclectic days. However, the classification of oranges being a fruit grown in sunnier and warmer climates really kind of works with the general associations of Sekhmet, so she tends to get them fairly often in my house hold.

I also tend to associate apples with Sekhmet. I don’t associate the Red Delicious or any of the apples that are redder than the rest with her. I actually associate Macintosh apples with her. I think it’s because I absolutely fucking love these apples. Seriously, if they are on sale, I will put things back at the grocery store so that I can buy overwhelming amounts of them and eat nothing but apples for a week. It’s the taste, honestly, that adds to my UPG here. They’re tart. And as wonderful as Sekhmet can be when helping others, she can also be rather tart about things. So, it’s not the color or how they’re grown or even anything like that, but merely because of how they taste and how her personality can just be… well, sharp on occasion.

Finally, I added a whole bunch of green, seedless grapes. According to my limited knowledge of such things, grapes were reserves for the elite classes in Victorian England. They were too expensive for the rest of society to have, so they were most often associated with money, class, and royalty. It was this information, really, that made me add them to the offering plate. Another reason is because they are so damn expensive still. I mean, I’m looking at $4 per pound on these damn things. So, it’s a kind of sacrifice in providing them to her. While I’ll munch them down later, of course, it’s still a minor sacrifice to offer up those expensive green globes to her.

To round off all of it, I added chocolate. Since I had some of that orange chocolate leftover from Papa Legba’s services early this month, I added two pieces of that. Again, hearkening back to my UPG with oranges and because it has to do with general luck, it made sense. I also added her chili chocolate so that the feast would be sweetened for her. As it was, she had plenty of items to choose from. Finally, I gave her a glass of Coke and vodka and sprinkled the entire ensemble with rose petals.

Everything all set up and ready for viewing.

Everything all set up and ready for viewing.

I chose to use a lot of red in this rite, which is definitely a deviation from the norm. I usually try to balance out the red on her altar with just as much white. However, since the point of this rite was for her to feast and destroy blocks in an effort to bring better circumstances to the petitioners, it seemed like a good idea to use a lot more red than usual. I wanted her to feel the fierce, passionate side that many of her devotees have come to know, love, and hate all at once. I also tend to associate the color red with power, whether it be the internal power of humans (blood) or the act of achieving power (walking down the red carpet) or the power behind Sekhmet herself. It seemed appropriate to provide her constant reminders in as many ways as I could as to how powerful she can be.

In my eyes, everything was a lot simpler with this particular service than the last two services combined. I wanted to continue the sedate piety that I had been providing to her all week, partially due to my own anxiety and also due to my personal petition to her. I also wanted to clearly delineate the differences between the festivals that I celebrate in honor of her – where I tend to be a bit silly, more often than not – and the rites and services that I am providing for others to her – where I tend to be a little more serious.

Another part of the reason why I was so quiet and sedate this time around was that I was thinking about lions in the savannah, honestly. When they hunt, they are using the developed senses they were provided in order to hunt their meals – sense of sight, sense of smell, and sense of hearing. By remaining more demure than the norm was because I didn’t want to distract her from the prey I was readily providing her in the forms of peoples’ requests. I wanted her to focus on that and less on the pomp that I can and will occasionally provide.

Per usual, I feel worn out after placing this before her. Again, I’m beginning to think that this really is the case. And I have to say that I don’t know how other spirit workers can do this on a more regular basis than I currently am. Perhaps that’s part of what this year is all about – another cross point on the balance I thought I had been learning properly last year. In either case, after each rite, I’ve noted that I will end up feeling just tired enough to lay down but not quite tired enough to need to fall asleep. This is rather interesting, honestly, and a little new. I’m used to being able to just close my eyes and passing the hell out. However, after rites like this, I usually end up feeling excited by the energy I’ve raised and the services I’m providing. I usually have to spend a good couple of hours relaxing with whatever distraction I have – no matter how tired my eyes may get – before I can get to sleep.

I don’t know if that means I’m doing a good job, but at least I feel like I am.

Rites and Services.

After many months of planning, I am pleased to announce that the rites and services, previously provided as tests, are officially ready to be rolled out to the general public. There will be two types of rites and services provided – those for Sekhmet and those for Papa Legba. Each rite will be performed in my home on behalf of those who request a petition. Every rite will be catalogued with pictures and then written up in a follow-up blog entry. On how to request a petition, please see below.

Sekhmet Rites and Services

Each month in the calendar year will feature one rite for Sekhmet, per her request. Each of the services provided will feature a specific nature commonly seen in ancient Egyptian holidays – a feast, a procession, and a festival – and I will provide the details of what is coming up next a few days prior to the date of the celebration. Anyone can submit a request, whether they are a devotee of hers or not. Anyone can submit a request on behalf of someone else, again whether either person is a devotee or not. I will not refuse a request for a petition to Sekhmet unless someone is attempting to bring harm to themselves or to others.

When I put out the notice that an upcoming rite will be provided to Sekhmet, I will recommend how best to phrase the petitioner’s request. As a general notice, however, please be advised that each of the three listed types of celebrations will be based on specific phraseology. A feast to Sekhmet would allow a petitioner to provide anxieties, insecurities, injustices, ill-health, and general blocks for her to eat upon in an effort to grant the petitioner a break in whatever is causing them trouble. A procession to Sekhmet would allow a petitioner to progress through whatever blocks or negative aspects have been, in their eyes, preventing them from moving on to the next step. A festival will be a general thanksgiving for the works provided in the previous two months and a catch-all celebration: if someone wants to ask to remove a negative item or would like assistance in moving forward with an item, I will do both.

The fourth item, which is new, is that I will be offering oracular services on behalf of Sekhmet. I have already begun the process of working with her on how best to perform them, for the both of us. As this will be my first, official, work with oracular services, I will limit the number of entrants. As anyone who provides divinatory rites for others is aware, those divinatory rites can and will take a lot of energy out of the practitioner. As I am not asking for payment or energy reimbursement for these services, I have to keep in mind the spoons I have on hand at this moment. Due to the limited number of spoons I have, I will limit the first oracular session (shown in the calendar below) to seven requests. When I put out the reminder notice, I will remind everyone of that fact.

The following is the rites and services calendar for Sekhmet:

Second Weekend of January – Feast of Sekhmet.
Second Weekend of February – Procession of Sekhmet.
Second Weekend of March – Festival of Sekhmet.
Second Weekend of April – Oracle Services for Sekhmet.
Second Weekend of May – Feast of Sekhmet.
Second Weekend of June – Procession of Sekhmet.
Second Weekend of July – Festival of Sekhmet.
Second Weekend of August – Oracle Services for Sekhmet.
Second Weekend of September – Feast of Sekhmet.
Second Weekend of October – Procession of Sekhmet.
Second Weekend of November – Festival of Sekhmet.
Second Weekend of December – Oracle Services for Sekhmet.

Papa Legba Rites and Services

Services provided for Papa Legba will only be provided on feast days for the saints he is syncretized with and on days wholly dedicated to him according to the calendar I have on file. Each celebration will, just as with Sekhmet, be proceeded by a notice indicating what to expect out of the rite in question. In that notice, I will also provide helpful hints on how best to phrase the petition.

January 1 – New Year’s Day.
April 19 – Feast Day of St Expedite.
June 29 – Feast Day of St Peter.
December 17 – St Lazarus/Lazarus of the Four Days.

How to Request a Petition

Anyone can send me an E-mail to satsekhem@gmail.com as well as pop an ask into my Tumblr inbox, found here.

Please note: This will be recreated as a page on my Tumblr, found here, and my WP blog, found here.

New Year’s Day 2014.

Something I’ve never really discussed regarding the lwa is how very important giving thanks to them is. It’s one thing to not provide thanks to the gods for items they do for you – the relationship is kind of different in many cases when it comes to how we devote to our gods. However, while some relationships with the gods can and will take on a sort of partnership, this isn’t the case with the lwa. They require that thanks be provided to them for things they’ve given you. If you fail to provide thanks to the lwa then things can and will get a lot worse for you after they’ve given whatever it is that you asked them for. I would like to think that I’m getting better at remembering to give thanks to the lwa but sometimes, in a fit of fear that I’m failing somewhere, I end up going up and above the norm in an effort to remind myself, and them, that I truly am thankful for all that they have provided.

There appears to be two separate ways to provide thanks to the lwa, at least as far as my research has indicated. There is the ability to provide an intimate thanksgiving between the servant and the lwa in question. And then there is a larger ceremony known as the action de grace. From the little bit I’ve found regarding this topic, it doesn’t seem like this happens quite often and that it is definitely a ceremony that non-initiates wouldn’t partake in. Since I am not initiated into anything, I had decided that what I was providing was simply my giving thanks and nothing more. While the phrase, action de grace, is how I was gently reminded that I had things to provide thanks for, I don’t believe that the lwa to whom I needed to provide my gratitude for were looking for a non-initiate’s attempt at recreating an action de grace rite. Besides, since that particular ceremony appears to be something that a Sosyete would celebrate without any outsiders, I didn’t really know how to go about something like that. So, instead, I decided that I just needed to give a hearty “thank you.”

Papa Legba, in the last few months more specifically, has given me a lot of assistance on items that I didn’t think he would be able to help me out with. Just as I’ve given thanks to Bawon Samedi for his timely assistance financially last summer – and ended up paying for failing to say “thank you” in a timely manner – I knew that I couldn’t let this one sit. Papa Legba is more patient than most of the lwa, but he is not above messing things about in order to make the point stick. So, I knew that I needed to do something really grandiose and awesome for him while also trying to keep the rite simple and intimate. He really, really assisted me in a lot of ways in the white room that I can’t even begin to detail – and won’t – and he also has just been a sort of constancy as I wander around, feeling vaguely odd and mostly lost. With his ability to be as steadfast as he has been, I decided to give him a surfeit of thanks on New Year’s Day.

New Year’s Day is a day dedicated to Papa Legba in many traditions. The first day of the year is the start of a new cycle, or in parlance that is more easily associated with him: it’s a day about opening the gateway, to bust through obstacles, and to bring new opportunities to people who need them and/or request those new opportunities. While all of these things are super important and things I should probably request assistance with in the coming year, this wasn’t really about me and my needs. This was about him and his needs. As I was thinking about how I wanted my thanksgiving to go the day before New Year’s Eve, I knew that I didn’t just want to provide him my own thanks, but to offer his ability to bust through some shit and bring in some good shit to others. So, I sent out a little invitation to anyone who was wanting to get some aid from Papa Legba. This was a two-fold adventure for me: I was providing him a meal, dedicated to him, in thanks for all he’s done for me. And I was also providing a sort of miniature service for others who needed help, but didn’t really know where to get that help from.

Part of the reason I got the idea is because I’ve found myself, in the last two months, looking forward to and enjoying the services I’ve been providing in the name of others to Sekhmet. It seemed, to me, that Papa Legba would appreciate something as catchy as all of that. And it also seemed like a selfish thing to keep a very wonderful lwa to myself. If he has the capability to assist me with the various projects I have going on, who was I to deny his access to others? And honestly, he’s been such a solid force in my life for the last few months. Since our last interaction in the white room, I haven’t really had much going on with him. And the amount of solid foundation he really provided me within that room is something that I would really like others to be able to feel and to know. If I could open up that doorway, even just a little, for others, then I thought, well, why not? And to be honest, my Papa Legba is very much a flashy kind of lwa who likes to get as much attention as he can (when he feels it appropriate). And if the day of New Year’s wasn’t appropriate, then what day really would be?

I managed to put a quick menu for the meal together very quickly. This, in all honesty, is one of the big lures with voodoo. It’s not all of it, but a large part is the fact that it’s about what you have versus what you need. While I attempt to balance myself properly between the gods and the lwa, I sometimes feel like the lwa appreciate who I am, what I have on hand, and what I can pull out of my butt with those items more than the gods. In many instances, I feel that my gods need a bit more in order for my success. It’s possible that I’m building too much into something that isn’t even an issue, but occasionally, I feel more powerful and successful in the minor rites I create alongside or for the lwa than I do for the gods. In either case, Papa Legba told me to plan out the menu based on things he knew that I knew he would enjoy and to add one single special touch: he wanted me to find chocolate that had orange rinds in it or that was orange-flavored. I looked up the meaning for orange peels in one of my herbal books and found that it is associated with “general good luck.”

This gave me the grand idea of where I wanted to go with the petition services I was going to provide. I was going to push out the specific requests, of course, but I wanted it all couched under the auspices of “general good luck.”

There were a couple of other items that I did need to go out and get for him, though. While grocery shopping this past weekend, I kept my eyes peeled for the requested orange flavored chocolate. I ended up finding some on sale at my local grocery store. I also found other items that I thought Papa Legba would like added to this meal on sale. It really felt like things were working in our favor. I was able to [finally] get the requested pineapple and it was on sale! I bought chunks of it versus the actual thing since I don’t actually know how to cut it or skin it. (As a kid, fruits were things that were common, like apples and bananas and oranges and nectarines. We didn’t really move outside our comfort zone when it came to fruits. I still don’t move outside of my comfort zone with fruits because whenever I attempt to, I end up screwing things up or forgetting it’s in the house.) I also managed to find some red beans and rice on super sale and I bought that to go with the chicken meal I was planning.

Everything I was planning here, by the way, had a certain set of symbolism that correlates with my Papa Legba. Rice is something he’s asked of me a few times and he seems to enjoy it. It’s also incredibly cheap and stuff that I usually have on hand. Since the box of red beans and rice was on sale, it seemed like another kind of mini sign post that this was something important. Plus, it had red beans in it and one of his core colors if red. The chicken meat hearkened back to Papa Legba’s symbolism with the black rooster that I read in a book or three. The chocolate is something that all of the lwa have a flare for, but I prefer to get flavored kinds that, again, hearken back to things that they’ve requested of me. While I attempt to use a lot of symbolism in any rite that I perform for any of the gods or the lwa in my life, I really attempt to pay closer attention when I’m planning on something on a grander scale than I normally would provide.

While I waited for everything to cook, I wrote out the handful of petitions I received. I thought about how I wanted to supply the petitions to Papa Legba. Basing it, similarly, to how I provide them to Sekhmet, I ended up writing them down on small pieces of paper. It took me longer to write down the petitions than I had initially thought it would because of how I needed to word them carefully in order to make their requests plain. I also needed to figure out how, specifically, I wanted to metaphorically help these people break through the blocks. I got an idea while looking at Papa Legba’s altar. Once Hekate left the house, she left behind a very nice lantern. Since both she and Papa Legba are of the liminal sort, I placed it on his altar after she was gone. Staring at it, I knew what I wanted to achieve.

In between rubbing out the writer’s cramp I was getting while writing the petitions (my handwriting is very precise, especially when I’m writing out petitions for others, so I have to stop after a while to rub out the cramps in my hands), I continued to set my table service. I had purchased red and white linen napkins the day before. I used these as the basis for the “canvas” I was creating. I placed them in a sort of diamond pattern and then began placing some of the items I have on Papa Legba’s altar onto the table. I placed the candle holder with his vévé on it, the paket that was made for me that is kind of like my “doll” of him, and his wooden bowl on the table. I recreated a little symbolism in front of his “doll” for the petitions I was placing: I added his three dice, three pennies, and three cowrie shells in a sort of pattern atop the wooden bowl I keep on his altar, as well. Finally, I added three keys in front of him, as well.

Once I had finished with the petitions, I set them up first since I still had some time to kill before the meal was ready.

All lit and supplied to the Old Man.

All lit and supplied to the Old Man.

I placed all nine petitions on the white offering plate I have for just such a purpose. I placed tea lights over each of the written petitions, as well. Since I had fewer petitions than I have in the rites I’ve performed for Sekhmet, I was able to “set lights,” sort of, for these people. Unlike with the traditional hoodoo rite of setting lights, I didn’t use the seven-day candles and I didn’t use candles specific to the purposes each petitioner was requesting. I did, however, dress the white tea lights. I anointed them with some success oil I have on hand. I also dressed the entire plate with herbs that were relating back to the “general good luck” that I wanted to create. I wanted to be able to give the people asking for assistance their own power in finding the way to break through the blocks in an effort to draw the new opportunities to them. Back to my obsession with symbolism: that was why I chose to use the lantern in this rite. I wanted them to have a lighted way through the darkness that blockages of varying sorts can cause in people and if I lit the lantern, symbolically, they would be able to “see” the light and follow it through the blocks preventing them from seeing the new opportunities coming in their lives.

The whole shebang.

The whole shebang.

After I had completed that part of the work, I was able to set the meal out. I put the main course out first (with a fork) so that Papa Legba could feast upon that either while he perused the requests before him or after he was finished with it. I added the various other items I had on hand for him: a cup of coconut and orange-flavored chocolate; a mug of hot coffee that was laced with a flavored Bailey’s nip I had been given for Christmas; the last shot of his coconut rum; and the chunks of pineapple that was covered in cheese. The cheese was the only thing that I didn’t associate with him. I provided him the cheese as a symbolic sacrifice. Cheese is a very big and important staple in our lives. We all love cheese in this household. I will buy a pound of American cheese and just munch on it whenever, though I prefer to munch down on extra sharp cheddar more than American cheese. But the point was that I was offering him a sacrifice of one of our most favored items and I was placing it over the pineapple as a secondary sacrifice. I would eat it later and it would be “tainted” with the taste of pineapple (I don’t like the taste of pineapple or of coconut – two items that he does enjoy).

Once everything was set before him so that he could pick and choose what he sampled, I lit the candles of the petitions first, followed by three spare candles I added at the last minute.

I have a whole host of plain white candles lazing around my house. I added three candles beneath his “throne” on the table and anointed them with the same success oil. I then lit them to provide success to the nine petitioners. The last candle I lit was the one in the lantern. Again, this was a symbolic gesture. The first candles lit were the nine requests placed before him, as a kind of first step to breaching through their blocks and attaining their ultimate goals. The three candles placed directly in front of his “throne” and just in front of the offering plate of petitions was to keep him focused on them. And lastly, I lit the lantern to provide the people, finally, with the light at the end of the tunnel that many of them needed in order to realize their ultimate goals.

While Papa Legba was eating, I sat down beside him and enjoyed a cup of Bailey’s laced coffee with him. While the two of us enjoyed his meal together, I told him how grateful I was for everything he’s provided me in the last few months. I specifically explained to him what I was thankful for and what this service was about. But, I also detailed other things he has given me over the last few years with him in his life. Teary-eyed towards the end of my list of reasons why I was so appreciative of all he’s done for me and how happy I am to have him in my life, I told him that I didn’t think I would have survived all the shit that’s been thrown at me if he wasn’t around. And while I don’t know what-all we’re doing with this camaraderie between us, I appreciated it and wouldn’t trade it for all the gold in the world. I’m not certain of I was able to convey, fully, how I feel about him and how thankful I truly am, but I would like to hope that he received the point.

Completed petitions. Lower right hand candle shows the dark soot.

Completed petitions. Lower right hand candle shows the dark soot.

After our shared cup of coffee, I was exhausted. I felt like I had run a marathon, or as if I had been up for days upon days and was only finally capable of falling asleep. While I rested, I let the petition candles burn out throughout the night. I was hoping that, in the morning, I would look at them and see that the petition was a success. (I didn’t actually get to look at them until yesterday.) By candle standards go, the petition was a success, mostly. There was a single candle that burned itself black. Since I had been careful to not allow too many of the “general good luck” herbs I had sprinkled over the petitions to remain on top of the tea lights, I was curious as to the meaning here. In looking at the pictures I took of the services, I do see that there was a thicker bunch of herbs on that candle. So, it is incredibly feasible that what I am associated the blackened condition of the tea light casing (and the petition beneath) is merely a coincidence. However, in looking over the rest of the petitions, it is the only one to have ended up like this and I’m a pretty big fan of explaining away coincidences. I have already alerted the owner of that petition to the circumstances here and hopefully, they are better able to explain it away than I have been.

I learned a lot during what I was providing for Papa Legba, both in the thanksgiving meal and in the petitions I had placed before him. I realized that I actually enjoy doing this. It’s fun and it’s exciting and I feel like I’m able to really assist us others in a way that they may not be able to assist themselves with. I also learned that there is a bit of responsibility that goes along with this as well. Just because I place petitions down in front of a particular being doesn’t mean that they will succeed (as in the possible case of the lone petition that burned so black). And finally, I learned that this is something that I would like to continue to do. I would like to continue to be able to provide these types of services to Papa Legba. It’s not just fun, but it’s also very intimate and very fulfilling in a way that I didn’t realize would be the case.

All in all: A++. Would recommend again.