The Brightest Things.

Before I fall asleep, I tend to take some time to think on my gods. I have always done this as that twilight period before sleep tends to be the quietest moment in my life. Though I can see my gods in my daily life, embodied by actions and words or in the world around me, it is then that I feel closest to them.

When I ponder the Lady of the Red Linen, I can quite often envision her. Sometimes her consort is behind her, stalwart as always, a benben upon which to build, but mostly it is just her and I together in solitude.

Sometimes I use this time to speak on things I am uncomfortable to say aloud and sometimes I use it to merely be in her august presence. Always there is awe and joy, sometimes heartbreak and anger. But I am always amazed by her, no matter how upset I may be.

wheat

It was just the beginning. I think that I was meant to be next to you, to you. On this planet spinning… – Back to Earth by Steve Aoki feat Fall Out Boy

Months ago, I began thinking of her less as a deity and more in her association with various flora and fauna. She is still real to me, as real as her icon and the ba that may inhabit it, but I have begun to see her elsewhere and this changed the nature of our quiet moments before I would fall asleep.

I could see my home and its mountain peaks in the distance, the wild fields where wild turkey and egrets hide. I could see the deer and raccoons, the deciduous trees and blooming bushes. I was home with her and in her while simultaneously being home where I physically live.

When I began seeing her in things around me, I turned to her epithet list in an attempt to rationalize what I was doing or thought I was doing. It seemed… wrong, in a way, to see her around me when she had a home that she truly had helped to make manifest. This is not her home: no sands, no stone built temples, no spine of Osiris to tread upon as the very foundation of the nation.

There were beings here long before my gods came. We would be impudent to ignore them, to forget about them. The Natives who once made my area their home were pushed out and mostly moved west from what I have learned, but this was their place first. And this place embodied their spirits, their gods; never mine.

I was worried that by seeing her here with me (and my other gods) that I was muscling out those who were here first. I was concerned that I was moving into an appropriative no-man’s land where everyone loses. There are no tribes near to me to ask these questions of and I haven’t really figured out who to turn to for help. I mean, shouldn’t someone who has learned extensively about cultural appropriation know the answer to this already?

(The answer is no. If I don’t ask then I don’t know. And if there is a Native American who may read this post and be able to comment in some form or another, I would appreciate it.)

She always understood the fear and anxiety. Maybe that’s because the Lady of the Flame who appears at night before sleep is nothing more than a mental construct. Or maybe it really is because she just gets it. I don’t know and it probably doesn’t really matter.

She told me to look to the stars because no one owns them.

She said to look to the horizon and find her there.

Of course, I found her.

Over the Horizon

This is a crooked path. I think that I was meant to be next to you, to you. We can never come back. – Back to Earth by Steve Aoki feat Fall Out Boy

Beyond terrorizing the populace with her very existence, there were aspects of Sekhmet that were far more affable when compared to the destroyer deity wielding chaotic spirits for later. Some of those aspects hint to a deity who seemed to love just as deeply as human beings. And other aspects seem more remote, as distant as the goddess once was after Ra intervened on humanity’s behalf. But each different area seems to, as always, offer tantalizing hints of the multifaceted goddess that Sekhmet can be and is to this day.

When she told me to look to the stars for her, it was easy to see her in the constellations. While the stories of the constellations we all know today stem from the Greeks, I could still feel her in them to some degree.

The constellation Leo has always been a favorite of mine for many years. My zodiac is a Leo so of course it is special to me. And it was never a surprise to see my Leonine goddess there. Based on my research, it does appear that the ancient Egyptians were aware of this constellation and ascribed some significance to it. While I haven’t been able to delve too deeply in what I’ve found, it would appear that the Leo constellation held some importance to the ancient Egyptians.

And of course, we can’t forget the meteor shower associated with the constellation Leo.

While the Leo constellation makes sense, I admit that I could see her in the constellation of Orion too. Though this constellation is associated with Osiris and known by the name Sah in the realm of ancient Egypt, I could see her in the stars both as the protective womb who aids in the rebirth of Pharaoh as well as in the fierce warrior pose often associated with Orion.

I looked beyond constellations and outward further, searching planets and moons, asteroids and other celestial objects. I could see her, in a way, associated with comets and, of course, meteor showers.

As I looked into deepest space, I kept finding her here and there.

It was like she was speaking, but on a cosmic level.

I looked closer to home, at the horizon, where the earth meets the sky and found her. It felt a little like she was hiding, shy and stand-offish until I narrowed in on her like a lioness on the hunt. Sekhmet doesn’t appear to have much in the way of liminal associations and the horizon – that in between space signifying where Nut and Geb seem to merge – is nothing if not liminal. However, even without an apparent association, I was able to find it.

In the PT, as I stated above, it is the womb of Sekhmet that grants the pharaoh the ability to be reborn into a star upon its passing. This was my primary focus, of course, as I found liminal hints and teasers in my continued relationship building with her. It is this threshold of creation that she is best known for and would appear to be some of the oldest, written commentary on her.

Perhaps it was her association with the sun and its being reborn every morning, just as the pharaohs of the Old Kingdom were, that caused her intermingling with the horizon and the doorway found there. Or perhaps there are other items that I have yet to discover.

It doesn’t matter.

I found her there anyway.

Path to the stars

And you know I’ve found the dust to be resilient. And we’re the dirtiest of the dirt. Every time we fall to pieces, we build something new out of the hurt. – Back to Earth by Steve Aoki feat Fall Out Boy

As I listened to her, I reviewed her epithet lists in an effort to find some correlation that worked, that helped me to see what I was finding. I knew that there was some association with both the night sky and horizons, but I couldn’t remember quite clearly everything that I had found in my random forays across epithet lists.

I found an abundance of epithets that fit in nicely with what I was finding. As a small example:

The Horizon of Ra
She Who is in The Sky
Lady of the Horizon
Lady of Heaven
The Eastern Sky
The Southern Pillar of the Sky
She Who Opens the Doors of Heaven

It was an incredible relief, truly, to find that what I had seen and found wasn’t something entirely made up. This only seemed to reinforce my ongoing belief that nature, as a whole, was far more important than many modern-day Kemetics may give it credit. (Though, to be fair, I can understand the unease that such discussions can cause since, as I stated above, it sometimes feels incredibly wrong or weird to see my gods here in a land that was never theirs.) And gave further credence to my push to include local cultus, in some aspect, in our practices.

We’ve all seen snippets here and there that would suggest that nature was a matter of import, but the more and more that I delve into epithet lists coupled with quotes here and there, it seemed as though the gods did more than simply exist: they were one with nature in a way that I would not be able to adequately express. Again, it makes me wonder just how much local cultus, as it would have been understood in an ancient Egyptian context, was a part of the overall religion and the personal relationships that people crafted with the netjeru.

There was also a certain level of comfort in the knowledge that I had found my goddess where she told me to seek her. As any devotee of the gods can attest, there is always a certain level of doubt when it comes to communication. The idea that, even before I had found substantive proof of her associations within both the realm of the sky and the realm of horizons, she had given me concrete instructions is, of course, seductive.

Maybe this is what “winning” feels like.

All in all, in my fear to muscle out spirits and gods who had come long before, my goddess assured me that I could find her elsewhere if I only looked.

To be clear, I still see her in the area around me. I don’t think I will ever be able to look at the fiery leaves of a maple tree and not see her. Or drive by the reeds and cat tails that seem to proliferate along the sides of the highway without seeing her there.

But I can look up and see her in the night sky or at the thick, dark edge between sky and earth and know that she is there too.

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Semblance of Life.

Change is a cacophony.

It is ten different music scores playing all at once and just slightly off-key and/or off-tempo. It is the pounding of a waterfall with a motorcade of motorcycles and every high-pitched dog barking at the same time. It is a garage band practicing some new song while you’re passively aggressively playing Alice Cooper at top volume while trying to carry on a conversation. It is a category 4 hurricane wailing into the world with freight train cheerleaders leading the way.

Change is neither easy nor quiet. It is loud and boisterous and oh, so very painful.

It is tumultuous and wild.

The thing about change is that you know that it’s all flaming towers and being kicked over the cliff. But they forget to mention how painfully, how headache-inducingly loud it can be. And when you’re sitting in the midst of the maelstrom, trying so hard to concentrate for five measly seconds because otherwise you could probably end up dying or worse, and you just simply can’t because it’s all so fucking loud.

I don’t know why no one ever thought to mention this before. I think, maybe, it would have been nice to know before now. I think I could have appreciated the head’s up even if only after the fact.

But even in the middle of the screaming, screeching, horrendous noise, the worst is yet to come. It’s the loud wail of silence that follows the cacophony of change that should cause the most concern. It’s when it all goes quiet that you have to wonder what the fuck is coming next.

Changes

“Alone. Yes, that’s the key word, the most awful word in the English tongue. Murder doesn’t hold a candle to it and hell is only a poor synonym.” – ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

I can’t feel my gods.

I haven’t said anything before now because I didn’t want to listen to the unwarranted advice that would head my way. I don’t want advice. It’s not that I don’t appreciate what anyone would be willing to say. Sometimes, I just need to stew in the juices, sit in the thick of it for a while.

And I didn’t want to see what sort of pseudo discourse that would probably wind up getting shut down because of misunderstandings or miscommunications. I’m tired of seeing a subject that looks to be interesting getting shut down because of people looking inside from the outside and not fucking getting what they’re reading. I don’t have the patience for this to get shut down anyway.

But to be the most truthful, to be the most honest… If I didn’t write it down or say anything to anyone then I could say it wasn’t real. At the heart of all this, I’m a coward first and foremost.

I’ve always just been able to feel my gods. I can’t even really describe it, oddly enough. I just stretch internally and there they are: sun and fire is Sekhmet; soft things and dew covered grass is Hetheru; wide blue sky and gentle breezes is Heru-Wer. There are others that are there when I stretch out but those are the three I look for most and…

They’re just not there.

I can remember the last time I felt them, each of them. They were like pieces of jewel in my hands, in my heart. I could touch them practically and they were just there. It was a comfort, like wearing your favorite pair of sweat pants and T-shirt on a cool fall day. I could feel them and everything was all right.

And then one day, I woke up and they were gone.

Sometimes when I look to see if they’ve returned and I find that place empty, I get angry. Like how the fuck dare they disappear? How in the hell do they think this sort of behavior is okay? What sort of bullshit is this, damn it all, and how dare they?! 

And other times when I look and find that they are just definitely not there, I get sad. What did I do wrong? How could I have dropped so very low in their estimations that they would do this? How can I possibly right the terrible wrong that I have clearly done?

But most times, I don’t feel anything. It’s just another coat of gray on the dull gray box that my inertia lives in, breathes in, grows in, devours in. It’s just another knot in the noose that my stagnation ties around me. It’s yet another bundle of wood upon my own funeral pyre.

“It was to be expected,” I tell myself as I wait another month, another hour, another second for the wavering half-light that’s supposed to see me out of this fucking shit show that I’ve been in for almost two years.

“But how did I get here?” I always ask in that drab grayness. No one is there to answer, just the echo of my own words whispered back to me.

one more show down... lost count of how many more to go.... :-)

“It knew about the darkness that comes on the land when rotation hides the land from the sun, and about the darkness of the human soul.” – ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

I was angry a few days ago. I screamed and hollered and gibbered and whined. I demanded that they show up, that they stop fucking around for two little minutes and just tell me anything instead of this fucking grayness, this silence and horror. No one answered; I didn’t figure they would.

I don’t know. I guess I just figured that if I vented how I felt, then maybe shit would be easier or I’d feel better. I’d get like a game plan or something and you know, shit would like flow. But like the river that’s dammed up, it all just got stagnant and nasty and nobody said a word.

Loki keeps popping up; I get it. Oh boy, howdy, I fucking get it. Do the work. Stop self sabotaging. Get out there and do it all. Yeah, yeah. I hear you.

But I have to ask if he, or they, hear me. Don’t they know how scared I am? Don’t they know that I spend most days in a haze of my own insecurities, shaking and worried? Don’t they know that sometimes I need someone to hold my hand and not to push me into the conflagration at my feet?

The hooting and hollering of the years before last were so loud. I can remember the dizziness that the sounds caused and I can remember wondering how much worse it could possibly get, asking when it would all just fucking quiet down and stop for five fucking minutes.

Famous last words, I guess.

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2016: Mourning. 

Are you with me after all
Why can’t I hear you
Are you with me through it all
Then why can’t I feel you

Sometimes I think that writing about grief will somehow lessen the pain. I am pretty sure this is a concept that crystallized for me in high school and just never went away.

But other times, I find the mere idea of sharing the pain to be so odious, so incomprehensible that I can only believe that by sharing the pain, I’m in fact trivializing it. As though the act of publicizing my own emotions creates a sort of side show event where people will laugh at the freak before them.

When I have those moments, I find poems that encapsulate the feelings. There are many beautiful poems out there written on the coattails of one’s inner pain and, occasionally, in the reading, I can feel a hint of the release I’m aiming for. But that feeling never lasts. Sometimes the poems just don’t even help at all.

When that doesn’t work for me, I find songs that speak to me. Intense, beautiful lyrical pieces that make my whole body and soul zing with the emotion better denoted as grief with its stops at suffering and sorrow. When I hit those songs and really listen, I can feel the pain of my grief slipping away if only for a little while. This is a last ditch effort really, but it usually works.

The basis of my problem is that I am just no good with sadness on the whole, even as a person who has been living with depression for a little more than half her life. I never really learned, I guess, how to appropriately cope with it. Maybe I just feel too much as one therapist once told me. Suffice to say that I am so very bad at handling it. Typically, because it’s easier than the whole feeling thing, I just go numb.

I can handle going numb.

But something I have come to realize during this holiday is that, I can’t outrun those emotions or hide behind a shield of numbness. I desperately want to, but I have learned the hard lesson here [again]. As much as I may run and hide and refuse to acknowledge my own feelings on the matter, they’re going to catch up with me anyway.

Stay with me, don’t let me go
Because there’s nothing left at all
Stay with me, don’t let me go
Until the Ashes of Eden fall
– Ashes of Eden
by Breaking Benjamin

Last year, I went through this alone. To be honest, it was literally hell. I waffled heavily back and forth between “I’m totally fine really” and “my entire world is falling apart but I have to pretend that I’m fine what the fuck.” It often felt as though the phrase tap dancing on razor blades was wholly appropriate and perfectly summed up everything in between. I felt like I was going crazy half the time.

I tried to talk about it with the people I knew in real life, but it seemed like nothing I had to say on the subject was adequate. I knew how to use my words effectively after a year or more of working steadily towards that goal and yet, when it came to this, I couldn’t use them properly. I got angry and frustrated when people tried to tell me that they understood. How could they understand when I didn’t fucking understand?

I could have turned to Heru Wer or Hetheru, I suppose. But even entrusting them with the depth of my pain was taboo to me. Maybe that’s the wrong word. It was like I couldn’t share it. It was my pain; it was my grief; it was my sorrow. I couldn’t give it up to another god. Maybe that was a directive somewhere that I didn’t consciously know at the time or maybe I really am just no damn good with expressing this shit.

I sat alone for the most part, frustrated and angry and filled to the brim with an unending sorrow. It was like a tsunami with no end in sight even though I knew it was going to end. That’s the kicker to the whole fucking thing; I knew that she would return. The Distant Goddess always returns, but it was like I was never going to see her again, as though my entire world was falling apart. There’s just no logic to this shit.

In a not very surprising plot twist, things are different this year because of course they are.

This year, I haven’t had to suffer alone. I have been suffering right along with Ptah, who was not around last year to hold my hand. He is here this year and together, in a not wholly unexpected way, we have been bolstering one another up as we suffer with our loss. Whenever I feel like I’m dying inside, I can feel his steadying presence. I don’t know if he feels quite the same way, but I just know when I need to be there for him.

It’s an oddity to me to have someone much less to rely on someone. It’s even stranger to know that we are going through the exact same thing though in our own individual ways. His smiles are pain-filled, his silence is pointed and encrusted with razor sharp edges. I assume I am much the same, although probably with a little more petulance and a lot more whining. Still, even though we could just as easily lash out at each other for this, this… this fucked up horror show of our lives, we are there for each other.

Maybe I do know how to cope with this shit; I just didn’t have the right person before. Or maybe it’s just simply because we both feel the loss so intimately that we can understand why the other is acting the way that they are.

I can hear the voices haunting
There is nothing left to fear
And I am still calling
I am still calling to you – Ashes of Eden
by Breaking Benjamin

It was Ptah, really, who told me that we had entered a period of mourning.

The course of this holiday isn’t so bing-bang-boom. It’s a little of this and a little of that. At first, I was just a little sad and a little depressed that she was gone, but I could handle it. And then, he turns to me and just says out of the blue, “We’ve entered the period of mourning,” as if the whole time period before then was a fucking practice run for what we would inevitably and truly feel.

And I could feel my own mourning returned to me. It was all deep blacks and veils and quietly spoken words and anger, pain, sadness meshed into one. And there was Ptah with his quiet attitude morphed into a caricature. He was hard lines and anger; tear tracks from weeping and a shell of who he has always been to me. We made a pair.

I was so angry that he would remind me that the period of mourning was coming up, that it was bound to happen and really, there was fuck-all to be done about it, but I knew he was right.

We had entered the period of mourning and really, there was fuck-all we could do about it.

I was reminded of the Victorian form of mourning as I realized that he was right. It was a pretty huge process back then and there was this whole huge etiquette for guests and clothes and calling cards and letters. The house was draped in black along with everything else.

It felt a little like Ptah and I had entered into a similar state, though we have had no need to write letters and no visitors. It’s just us barely keeping it going.

I dreamed that I had draped my altar space in black. There was black crape across the table and covering the double doors. A black lace scarf hung down over the front corners of the shrine cabinet and everything was shades of deepest black, deepest mourning. The phrase, pall of mourning, kept flitting through my head though I couldn’t say why. I haven’t found that phrase anywhere when I’ve tried.

Ptah and I knelt before the altar together. We were silent with the pain that we’ve been going through but the close proximity of one another was enough to keep us both alive for the next second and the one after that. They don’t tell you, but grief can kill just as easily as anything else. We kept breathing instead. I held my arm up above my head with my hand covering my upturned face (much like the women in this image) and sometimes, I would scream out with my own pain. But mostly we were silent, just breathing, just trying to stay alive.

I emulated the image of that dream to the best of my ability and each night, I kneel before it. Sometimes I let the sorrow come and I am unable to hold back the tears. Mostly I kneel there and try to remember that she is definitely coming back. I look at the icon of Ptah as it stands before the double doors, guarding it from anything untoward, and I try to remind myself that the Distant Goddess always returns.

But somewhere in my heart, I know fear. I know what it’s like to never really know the truth. Maybe she won’t come back this time and maybe, just maybe, I’ll truly be lost for eternity.

And I think, I think Ptah knows that fear too.

Are you with me after all
Why can’t I hear you
Are you with me through it all
Then why can’t I feel you

Stay with me, don’t let me go
Because there’s nothing left at all
Stay with me, don’t let me go
Until the Ashes of Eden fall

-Ashes of Eden by Breaking Benjamin

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2016.

July 24, 2016 – August 19, 2016

No matter how many times I may celebrate a particular holiday, I often sit back and muse on the differences between each celebration. I have always worried about the drab gray that I associate with sameness, especially occurring within my religious practice. I don’t want to go into something time and time again, never to be surprised, never to know something new.

That shit gets boring.

God once spoke to people by name. The sun once imparted its flame. One impulse persists as our breath; The other persists as our faith. - Sitting By a Bush in Broad Daylight by Robert Frost

God once spoke to people by name. The sun once imparted its flame. One impulse persists as our breath; the other persists as our faith.
– Sitting By a Bush in Broad Daylight by Robert Frost

Every year, the time leading up to the Propitiation seems to both last twice as long as it should and to also speed up until, before I know it, there are only a few days between me and the holiday. It’s a strange mixture, just as strange as the various emotions the holiday has a habit of causing me to feel.

Two years ago, I went into the holiday with joy and excitement, pleased at the time away. Last year, I went into the holiday with confusion and worry, not sure what to expect. This year, I had a better handle on how things should look and what I could expect while she is gone. Having the last two years at my back has been helpful in many ways, though of course, nothing is the same. I also have Ptah with me this year who was not around last year; he has promised to lend a helping hand while we both mourn the loss of our lady. Having Ptah there to hold my hand when shit gets real, well that’s really kind of a bonus.

For once, I had the time I needed to prepare. Usually, my holidays take place during the work week leaving me with little time to ensure that everything is situated before the day arrives. This year, by the power of the calendar, I had an entire weekend to prepare as the Propitiation didn’t begin until Sunday.

I spent all day Saturday either sitting in the sunlight with my gods, being lazy and relaxed, or headed out to get some last minute items that Sekhmet had indicated I should get. Sekhmet and Ptah both seemed to stress the need that I couldn’t go into this harried or harassed; I needed to have enough strength and energy as Sekhmet always seems to have in spades. With the way things have been lately, I thought it was a pretty tall order to fill but maybe it was the sunlight or the fact that I had a whole day to do anything or nothing because I somehow managed.

Sunday morning dawned even earlier than Saturday’s and we all sat up watching the local birds do local bird things. In the window that I had placed them, chickadees and finches could be seen. They were all very happy and cheerful birds; they made me laugh. One bold little finch finally showed up to eat whatever bugs or spiders were encased around my window, peering in at us with the same sort of curiosity as we were peering at it. It was really nice and made me feel, well, maybe not magical but like everything was going all right.

At most he thinks or twitters softly, 'Safe! Now let the night be dark for all of me. Let the night bee too dark for me to see Into the future. Let what will be, be.' - Acceptance by Robert Frost

At most he thinks or twitters softly, ‘Safe! Now let the night be dark for all of me. Let the night be too dark for me to see into the future. Let what will be, be.’
– Acceptance by Robert Frost

Though the holiday, according to my calendar, starts the morning of the 24th, I don’t typically get into anything until much later towards sunset. We spent our day basking in the rays of Ra’s rejuvenation for the duration, needing the added boost that only the sun god can provide before we meet together and have our farewell meal.

I honestly can’t fathom what it must have been like for the priests of ancient Egypt undertaking some holiday or festival. Their days, like mine, had probably started very early but I often think that they were constantly on the go to ensure that everything took off properly. Almost by design, during the holidays where I have the ability to give it a slow burn, I am relaxing and taking my time. Nothing to rush; nothing too big to see to. If it can’t be done simply, according to my gods, then it shouldn’t be done.

Part of taking my time with the holiday also includes whatever holiday meal I may decide to make. I try to be as basic and simple as possible. Some of this has to do with the fact that I am not much of a cook. I can bake very well, if I do say so myself, but when it comes to actual meals, I find myself often making what I feel are ridiculous mistakes.

It’s kind of funny, though. Something I’ve noticed is that when I am cooking dinner for a particular holiday, things tend to go well even when I go into the cooking prep with the usual anxiety of just how terrible all of this is going to actually come out. Maybe the gods guide my hand when I cook for them; I don’t know. If Sekhmet aided me in making some of the best steak I’ve ever cooked, then I’ll be grateful for it.

Maybe it’s just my own insecurities in reality, but the gods make sure that if I’m going to cook, it’s got to be simple and easy.

As much as I love to bake, I’ve found that my ability to do so lately has been completely undermined. It doesn’t take long to throw the ingredients together (usually) for a batch of brownies or some cake or another. Maybe the act of baking, to me, is a pain reliever and I’ve been too overwhelmed with that pain in recent months to actually bake something in depth. Sekhmet said I could at least buy her something dessert like instead of baking. Maybe she really just wanted me to focus on getting her altar and cabinet up to snuff before I locked her away.

And on the worn book of old-golden song I brought not here to read, it seems, but hold And freshen in this air of withering sweetness; But on the memory of one absent most, For whom these lines when they shall greet her eye. - Waiting -- Afield at Dusk by Robert Frost

And on the worn book of old-golden song, I brought not here to read, it seems, but hold and freshen in this air of withering sweetness; but on the memory of one absent most, for whom these lines when they shall greet her eye.
– Waiting — Afield at Dusk by Robert Frost

It may not come as a surprise, but Sekhmet is very demanding about how certain things should look and feel. She wants certain things fulfilled for her holidays that are, as she would say, “mandatory”. When I went grocery shopping for the Propitiation, she was there with me to help me pick out everything that I needed. She was also with me when I had to fetch a few added supplies to spruce up the shrine cabinet she was to be locked into for the duration.

It’s funny, though. As much as she wants this, this, and this in just such a way, she mostly leaves the artistic representation up to me. She knew that I would look to the symbolism I associate with her, with our relationship, and with ancient Egypt as a whole to set things to rights. This is where the partnership of our relationship, in my opinion, becomes more and more pronounced especially as the years go by. She wants things to be just so, but I have free reign to recreate the image so that it’s pleasing for both of us.

It may not be obvious to most people, but symbolism is very important to me. I often look into the how, what, where, and when long before I actually begin to decorate for a holiday. While I will have a certain image in my head, either from my own experience, from what others have done under similar circumstances, or because of dreams I have had, I am always searching for various symbols that need to be recreated in a way that will do justice to the overall image. If I can’t find the symbolism that I require or that I know should be there, then it doesn’t get added.

One of the things that has always pleased me is the fact that green is such an important color in ancient Egypt. Green is my very favorite color so the fact that it ties back, not just to ancient Egypt but specifically to my goddess has always been a sort of additional connection that binds us together. It was with the symbolism of that color in mind that I chose a gentle green overlay for various items on the altar space.

You see, I wanted to keep her fed and life-affirmed as we prepared for the holiday and to continue that theme as we wait for her to return. I removed most of the reds that usually adorn her altar for the same reason: while red is a powerful color and we will need power to keep her in check until her return, we don’t want to give her too much power. There is, of course, always the fear that she may become wrothful once more.

That is also why, most of the time, I will also pick flowers to stay upon the altar for one reason or another. The flowers serve a dual purpose, of course. I love bunches of flowers, set up to look as beautiful as possible. But it’s also a reminder about life-affirming and ma’at affirming behavior.

By which we see and understand That that was the place to carry a heart At loyalty and love's command, And that was the case to carry it in. - In Equal Sacrifice by Robert Frost

By which we see and understand that that was the place to carry a heart at loyalty and love’s command, and that was the case to carry it in.
– In Equal Sacrifice by Robert Frost

It is with an eye to symbolism that I’ve come to perfect the implements of this ritual and the pieces I shut away with her. One of the most important pieces is the black scarf I use to carefully wrap her away. Black is the color of the life giving silt that was left behind after the Nile overflowed its banks. In a way, it hearkens back to the color of green and it’s life-affirming and ma’at-affirming connotations.

Black is also a color that I personally associate with the Nun. And it is more on that end, than anything else, that led me to choosing a black scarf (and later, a black shrine cabinet). Nun is a god of potential: from his waters, the potential of both life and death await. It is potential that I aim for here: the potential of keeping Sekhmet calm, the potential of luring her back to me, the potential of keeping her propitiated until her return.

The other most important part of the symbolism are the hearts that I have, every year, left with her as she becomes distant from me.

Most people who have read this blog, or its Tumblr companion, for any length of time should be aware that hearts are a central part of my religious relationship with Sekhmet. I won’t get into the details, since many of them are private, but the point of the matter is that the ib and everything it symbolizes between us must be represented in some form or another when I shut her away.

As found here, the epithet, “she who grasps hearts for herself,” is particularly appropriate.

It is with the representative hearts that we are finally able to bid goodbye. I give her my hearts, literally and figuratively, as a signpost, a reminder of what we are to one another and to give her a way to come back to me. So far, thankfully, each year she’s followed the path of my bloody remains right on back to me. Here’s to another year of anticipation, waiting for the day of her return.

The heart he wore in a golden chain
He swung and flung forth into the plain,
And followed it crying ‘Heart or death!’
And fighting over it perished fain.
So may another do of right,
Give a heart to the hopeless fight,
The more of right the more he loves;
So may another redouble might
For a few swift gleams of the angry brand,
Scorning greatly not to demand
In equal sacrifice with his
The heart he bore to the Holy Land.
– In Equal Sacrifice by Robert Frost

God Bothered: A Guide.

I get bothered by gods, well, fairly frequently I suppose. I don’t personally see it as such myself, but that’s what happens when you live in the thick of it. However from an outsider’s perspective looking in on the vague posts I make, it could seem as though my entire life is a giant way station for some new god to appear and go, “hey, hi. I’m here,” or something like that.

I can definitely say that things used to work that way; they don’t anymore. It seemed like once a month or so, some deity was jumping off the train with some baggage and a sign that said, “Satsekhem: look at me!” At first, I tried to accommodate and wound up in that deity collecting phase that drove me up a flipping wall. I would take one look at whoever the new deity was, roll my eyes as theatrically as you please and just mutter, “jfc, not another one of you,” and begrudgingly wound up attempting to do the thing.

But I began to realize that this was partially my fault. I hadn’t set clear boundaries for these gods so when they showed up and without those crystal clear boundaries, I found myself constantly out of my element. I had yet another new god that I had to deal with and learn about and figure out why the hell they were hanging around. It caused a large amount of stress and a long series of headaches that left me floundering.

That is absolutely no way to live a life or attempt to be a devotee. While not everything may turn out badly for both the god and the devotee in question, I can assure everyone that it doesn’t exactly leave the best taste in your mouth. It leaves you feeling bogged down and just generally irritable with the whole kit-n-caboodle. I wound up realizing that if I was going to appear as a sort of beacon into the night that gods would home in on, I needed to be clear with myself and with those gods coming in on the midnight train.

Boundary

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. – Brene Brown

Boundaries can be difficult to set up for yourself. There are a lot of various aspects that you must take into consideration when formulating them. While you may be thinking about how this will benefit you, something we need to keep in mind are the current relationships we have with our gods and what their particular plans for those relationships may entail. There is also the messy business of promises, agreements, contracts, and oaths that may need to be considered before setting a boundary.

In my case, the only promises I had made before setting up the boundaries was to Sekhmet and they had no relation in allowing new gods to stay or not. But this isn’t always the case. Some devotee-deity partnerships include being loaned out to other gods, being sent to other gods for specific reasons, or various other items that may lead to developing relationships with new gods.

The best way to figure out if both you and your existing deities will be okay with these boundaries would be to focus on the primary concern for creating a boundary: why am I setting up this boundary in the first place?

This might sound like one of those “no duh” questions, but asking yourself why you feel you need to do something will open up avenues of thought that you may not have considered. Just deciding that you want to make some space for yourself isn’t going to give you the ability to delve deeply into the matter at hand and determine the best design for you when it comes to the limits you’re setting.

On the other hand, this will aid in presenting the idea to the gods you currently have relationships with. It’s a give and take situation when discussing the possibility of a boundary with your gods and compromise may be a word used often when formulating a game plan.

When I broached the subject matter with my gods, they were all very supportive but there were certain stipulations that needed to be taken into account. While at that particular moment, I was flustered and flummoxed, they let me know that they may need to parcel me out elsewhere on occasion and they would let me know when that was the case. Since I felt that was fair, I told them I would do the thing if it occurred though I wouldn’t necessarily do it with grace or humility.

As I sat around determining what would work best for me, I kept focusing on the idea that my best interests were the heart of the matter. And they were; they are. I was setting up the boundary specifically because I was flustered by this seeming revolving door of deities and needed some peace. If you constantly have an influx, it’s damn hard to do the research you need to do to figure out what’s happening or determine why.

However, there are a million reasons that may come up for yourself when you ask yourself why this is so important now when it may not have been important before. When those reasons begin piling up and after all parties agree to a sort of informal agreement, it gets easier for you to determine the next stage of the process, how closed off do I need to be? Should I limit myself to no new gods? Or should I limit myself to a specific pantheon?

Going back to the gods with what we think would work best for ourselves is also important. I had tentatively put in the idea that I needed no new gods, but I was told that wouldn’t slide. New gods were coming whether I liked it or not; I just had to limit the influx to a number I could handle.

When new gods from outlying pantheons show up, it can be difficult to not just complete the research you may need but to also network with devotees of said deities. While not everyone will take the time and delve into the research with a level of detail as others, I do need to do both research and networking if a deity not-of-my-frame-of-reference shows up. And it can be both tiring and confusing to delve into arenas that often wind up looking an awful lot like gibberish.

From a Kemetic perspective, I know where the source material is and what to pick up if someone just jumped off the train. If a god from another pantheon shows up, I may know where to look generally for information but the question that begs is whether or not it’s worth learning about.

When it came right down to it, knowing as I do regarding resources for various other polytheistic traditions, I figured it was wiser to limit myself from the outset: Kemetic gods were a maybe, depending on situation and the feedback I received from my existing relationships, but gods from other pantheons were a no-go. This left me feeling a little more secure as the months passed; I had a general system in place and it worked.

This isn’t to say that gods from other pantheons stopped showing up. Oh, of course not. This clearly defined border only meant that I had to be firm when they annoyed me, which is why I wrote this entry about saying no. Just because you’ve set a limitation for yourself doesn’t mean that the gods will necessarily respect it or be aware of it.

Setting this boundary benefited me in the long run and also my relationships with my gods. I was able to spend more time on the things they wanted and when new deities appeared, I was better able to handle researching them, networking with existing devotees, and figure out what was going on, if I chose to look into the deity.

Yes/No

The strongest and most effective force in guaranteeing the long-term maintenance of power is not violence in all the forms deployed by the dominant to control the dominated, but consent in all the forms in which the dominated acquiesce in their own domination. – Robert Frost

Just as having your gods put their stamp of approval on boundaries you’re setting for yourself, so too must we put our stamp of approval on a new relationship that we are considering entering into.

Consent is one of those things that can cause pagan drama for days. Some people believe that our ability to say yes or no to a god is immaterial; others believe that ability is a necessity. I am a big proponent of consent, however I have to admit that it doesn’t always look quite like what we would expect it to.

In my experience, gods need some forms of affirmation to begin developing a relationship. A hearty yes is going to be the least ambiguous confirmation however, it seems to be the least common given. Gods have been known to get your approval through shady dealings and may even bug you until, in a fit of pique, you give in. This kind of goes back to the boundary question above: how well defined and high is the boundary?

I’ve noticed that while begrudging cooperation will work in a pinch, willing cooperation will make the experience easier on all parties involved. But again, this isn’t a black and white area; as with all the gods, it’s shades of gray. The point I’m trying to convey is that, out of all of it, while the form of consent may not resemble what we would prefer, some form of it appears to be needed to get the ball rolling.

A recurring theme I’ve picked up on is when people mention that X or Y deity is about, sometimes the advice given neglects to keep in mind that our consent is something that’s required. Often I will see something along the lines of, “you may as well just do it because it’s not like you have a choice.” I grow concerned when I see this out there; it seems to be neglecting the very reality that consent needs to be given in such situations no matter who the deity is or the reason they may or may not be hanging around.

So, let me state this emphatically: no matter what deity is poking around or why they are poking around, you always have the ability and right to say no. It doesn’t mean they won’t keep pestering you. It doesn’t mean that no will automatically filter through and they fly off to bother some other unsuspecting possible future devotee. This only means that you have the right to say no and that you do not have to give in, no matter what you may see floating around the Internet under the guise of advice.

Over the years, my default position for new deities has been to say no. Obviously, this isn’t always the case but it’s pretty much my fall back in any given situation unless directed otherwise by the deities I have relationships with. And even when directed to look into X deity, I always have the choice to tell them that I won’t do it or that now is not a good time.

As an example, Sekhmet pinged me a few months ago and requested I look into Tutu. I was able to do a cursory look but had to admit that, while I found the information available interesting, I did not have the necessary time to look deeper. She let it go and while she does check in to see how I’m doing, she knows that my focus elsewhere is important. In same vein, both Hetheru and Heru-Wer have asked me to look deeper into Ihy than I have and while I would like to, again now is not the time.

They respect my choice and I appreciate the carte blanche they have given me regarding these requests.

On the flip side of this, Sekhmet had mentioned that a certain Hellenic party guy would be beneficial for me some time back. Since I knew enough about him to be weary and because of the boundaries I had set, I was able to tell her that I wasn’t interested and she understood where I was coming from. It took a bit longer than that for that deity to buzz off, but he eventually went on his way.

It’s not always simple. Sometimes a deity is around for a reason and you have to weigh the pros and cons about entering into a relationship with them. When Loki arrived for me, I spent a good few weeks going through the benefits as well as the possible negatives before making a decision always with the knowledge that saying no could make things worse for me. Snap decisions are all well and good now and again, however sometimes more information is needed in order to make the best determination for yourself.

It’s not always easy. Sometimes a deity is persistent and refuses to take no for an answer. That doesn’t reflect on you; it reflects on them.

But at the end of the day, it’s your decision one way or the other. And you don’t have to enter into the relationship no matter who is poking around or why. So long as you have enough information to make a decision – why they’re around, what would happen if you do and do not enter a relationship, etc. – it’s entirely up to you.

Further Reading

  1. Gods, Boundaries, and Consent
  2. The Nuances of Non-Physical Relationships
  3. A Good Horse
  4. Breaking the Narrative
  5. Consent for Spirit Walkers
  6. Setting Boundaries with Your Deity

Ptah.

I’ve had an ongoing dance routine with Ptah. He’s always been a deity that I’ve had some minor interest in, but usually in how he relates back to Sekhmet. It was last summer that I began to really pay any attention to him whatsoever. We still danced though; he would appear as though at random and I would dance away with a laugh.

I don’t know if the routine has gone sour, but he’s been appearing more often recently.

It started off with just little snippets of dreams: he was just there. I would wake up from the dream where I was in a garden of his, staring at the purple flower that always holds my attention in those dreams. Sometimes there would be butterflies around the purple flower bush but always the purple flowers were the center of it all. I would wake and wonder what it was about him that seemed to bring him back into my life.

Finally, I figured it was a sort of escapism. Whenever I would wake from those dreams of the garden I’ve since begun calling the Purple Flower Place, I felt better and refreshed. I began to associate him with a sort of relaxation and peace that I couldn’t find anywhere else in my dreams.

Around Wep-Ronpet, the dreams changed. It was small things at first; nothing overt. He was just there. We weren’t in the Purple Flower Place anymore. He was wherever I happened to be. His presence reminds me a bit of the presence of Osiris, which isn’t surprising, but there’s an energetic component that Osiris lacks. In my dreams, Big O was more like a vacuum of energy. Ptah seemed to be overwhelming with it at times.

He never speaks to me in these dreams. He is always simply there. And I know that it is him either from the energy signature or because my dreaming mind fits in static iconography of his. He is unchanging: his combination djed, was, ankh scepter held in his hands, his blue cap on his head, a slight beatific smile upon his lips.

Shortly after Wep-Ronpet, I asked him to explain to me why he was around. It seemed strange that we had been doing this sort of tango together wherein I laughed and moved away and he appeared some time later. Why now? What was so important about right this moment that he needed to be everywhere? And why is it impossible for him to not say anything?

I started getting angry about all of this. I have rules you know. I have standards you know. I have a whole host of things that I put new netjeru through, rigorous things that not only include ignoring the hell out of them but also include getting pissy and miserable. I was getting upset because I couldn’t follow my usual routine: he was just there and he was just not saying anything.

I told him that if he wanted something, he needed to be clear because I can’t speak staring and silence. In a fit of pique, I looked through the entry on him on Henadology.

I got a hit when I was reading this bit on Henadology, “Hence in the ‘Memphite Theology’ itself, the ‘tongue’ (i.e., creative utterance) of Ptah is that through which “Horus had taken shape as Ptah, in which Thoth had taken shape as Ptah” (ibid., 54). That is, to the degree that Ptah’s creative utterance is prior to all the other Gods, it also renders Ptah’s identity relative, for it becomes the instrument by means of which Gods such as Horus and Thoth create themselves. The purpose of the ‘Memphite Theology’ therefore is not solely the glorification of Ptah, but rather the glorification of the all-pervading power of mind itself, through identification with which Ptah is perceived as supreme: “Thus heart and tongue rule over all the limbs in accordance with the teaching that it is in every body and it is in every mouth of all Gods, all men, all cattle, all creeping things, whatever lives, thinking whatever it wishes and commanding whatever it wishes,” (54).”

It felt to me like the important bits were about heka. And as someone who has semi-delved into the realm of becoming a hekau for Sekhmet, it made even more sense that he would be around. I felt like I could be comfortable with this, though perhaps with more direction and less staring from He of Beautiful Face. I was okay for a while.

But he kept appearing as though by random design in my dreams. I would sleep at night and he would be there. I would take a nap on the weekends and he would be there. He seemed to come up in conversation more. I would see images of him in my mind; think on things that had nothing to do with him and end up pondering the story of Ptah.

I was beginning to feel like I was being hunted.

I sit there numbly, trying to figure out what new hell my life has become. I turn to Heru-Wer and whisper, “But why Ptah?”

He sighs at me, as though I am very dense. Perhaps I am very dense. “He gets shit done, miw.”

I shelved the bit about heka. I couldn’t figure out why it would be at this moment that it would become an important part. I have been doing rites and services for Sekhmet for two years this November. My heka has undergone numerous changes during these and while I know that there is much more that I can learn, I feel like I am doing okay with it all. So why now?

I couldn’t get it out of my head though. It makes too much sense that Ptah would show up on so many levels though. I can admit that there is a certain sense here, even if I am at a loss for it.

I have long cultivated this relationship with Sekhmet. I have had moments where I have spoken with Ptah, about my relationship with Sekhmet and how it has made me feel. (He never has said anything then either.) I have had moments where I have felt very close to him because I was creating something with my two hands. And of course, I have an intense interest in how he relates back to Sekhmet in any way.

But I was comfortable with how things were. It was just this little dance. It was just me laughing and whirling away. And it was just him smiling in the background, watching as I moved away. This constant push of him in my dreams is enough to drive anyone up the wall. Or at least into a rage.

He stands there with his face made up. He is like the statuettes we see, the iconography distinctive and obvious. His shroud is tight, his hands clasping his scepter. His blue skullcap glitters in the rays of Ra’s early light.

“Why are you doing this to me? What is it about me, about now, that brings you here? I can’t handle all of this! I don’t have the spoons for anyone else. Please stop this. I am begging you to either name your costs or tell me why you are here.”

He smiles at me. It’s the smile of a teacher, amused by the student. It’s the soft lipped grin of a parent, indulging a child. It only ignites the fury in me anew and I scream, loud and piercing. I turn and the mirrors around me break into a thousand pieces, shards raining into the room. “Fuck this!”

I was very angry the other night.

I still am, in a way.

Being dream-stalked by deities is nothing new to me. It seems like every week there is a deity of some sort, or something deity related, that has come to me. During Wep-Ronpet, it was both Tutu and Ptah. Last year, it was Heru-Wer everywhere. This past January, it was Osiris who was followed by Nut. This isn’t anything new, but at least with the other deities, I had clues to jump off from.

I have no clues here.

I have nothing but his silence.

I think what makes this more frustrating is that it was his silence that I enjoyed the most. I could blather on for hours or minutes. His silence was like stepping into a cool well of water after a warm day. After the demands of my relationship with Sekhmet and the intensity of my relationships with both Heru-Wer and Hetheru, his silence was a reprieve. Now I find myself wishing he would say a single word.

In an attempt to stop worrying about it, I went through the entries of Ptah’s in The Complete Gods and Goddesses and Egyptian Mythology. I was hoping for something. A ping. A hint. A whisper. I found myself holding my breath as I went through each.

Pinch’s book was all but useless to me; a regurgitation of things I already knew. As I was going through Wilkinson though, I was reminded of the ear stela that are so often associated with Ptah. They aren’t just for Ptah, but he is always associated them in his aspect as mesedjer-sedjem. I, myself, have reached out to this particular function of Ptah, looking for assistance in the past.

As Wilkinson states, “On the perimeters of temples we also find shrines or chapels of the hearing ear which likewise served the purpose of transmitting the individual’s prayers to the deity within the temple. The god Ptah often figures in these shrines, as in the one constructed at the entrance to the great mortuary temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu.” I got a zing on this one, put the book down, and walked over to Sekhmet’s altar.

It started off as only a replica offering table. It morphed into a mix between an ear stela and an offering table replica.

It started off as only a replica offering table. It morphed into a mix between an ear stela and an offering table replica.

During last month’s services, I had an unbelievable need to attempt to recreate an offering table. It was very frustrating to me because I am not very good at recreating things. I finally managed something passable and while I was looking at the empty edging around the center piece, I decided to add bits that relate back to the ear stela. (My artistic skills are lacking clearly.)

When I was finished, I felt incredibly foolish about it all, but also simultaneously proud. It seemed to me that Sekhmet was more dismissive of the artistic representation. Someone mentioned that Ptah probably would have appreciated the hard work (literally hours because I am not very artistic) better. Funny; things just keep relating back to him.

This makes me wonder, based on what I read in Wilkinson, if perhaps he is around more and more because, unofficially, I invited him in. Ptah tended to relate back to these ear stela in many instances and perhaps simply by using the phrase “Hearer of Prayers” which I know I saw on a stela specific to Ptah in the past, I somehow managed to say, “hey, come on down, big boy.”

The thing is that I just don’t know. I feel like the more I delve into all of this, the more questions I come up with.

There are also his craftsman associations – I haven’t mentioned it but Khnum has been coming up more and more. And he also has craftsman associations. But this, in a way, relates back to the hit I received regarding heka and Ptah’s magnificence when it comes to creating what the hell he speaks.

I feel like I’m running around in circles.

Maybe one day I will understand it all.

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2015: The Festival of Drunkenness.

July 24, 2015 – August 19, 2015

Sometimes, you go through life without realizing how important certain things are in it until they’ve disappeared. I guess you could say that I’ve been living with my head in the sand for nearly two years. I didn’t realize what the loss of Sekhmet would feel like to me until it occurred. I didn’t realize what her return would feel like to me until it finally occurred.

This whole propitiation has been one giant learning curve and I wasn’t expecting to learn a damn thing.

Come back to me, o Distant One Reinvigorate me Touch me like the morning sun And give me life

Come back to me, o Distant One
Reinvigorate me
Touch me like the morning sun
And give me life

I was going through my archives while I sat vigil, awaiting for her to return. I was trying to remember when the relationship changed into the mass of emotional overload that it had become. While going through those old entries, I discovered an age old lesson that I have constantly needed to relearn: I didn’t know a fucking thing about what was happening.

For the last two years, things have been hard and painful between us. It could have been done differently – I know that – but it was done the way that it was and there’s nothing else I can do about it. I thought I knew that I was ready for the outcome, but I wonder if I was ever ready before the 2015 propitiation began. I don’t think I was. I just thought I was. And the last year was a constant upheaval in growth and change between the two of us.

Maybe I’m still wrong. Maybe I’m not ready for anything. Maybe I only think I am because she told me to take the wheel, to do a little driving, and tell me how it all turned out. Maybe I’m simply assuming that that conversation meant I was ready. Maybe this is all just another lesson in I don’t know a fucking thing.

The day before her return, I sat at the foot of her altar with candles lit in my hope that she would see the light and know the way to come home. I sat at her altar and I wrote out how I felt about this year’s propitiation. I told her what it felt to realize she was gone, what it felt to grieve, and how I didn’t know how to process it properly. I told her that I hoped she was pleased with the vigils I had undertaken to lure her home.

And then I told her how much I missed her, how much I needed her. Maybe it was a written whine, begging her to come home. But I would like to think that I was at least semi-elegant. But I’ll be honest with myself and I’ll be honest with anyone who bothers to read this: I was in tears as I wrote it and maybe there was a little sniveling in the mix.

It was the words, honestly, that was causing me the most trouble. I didn’t know how to verbalize, much less write out, how I felt. I had to spend the weeks leading up to her return just to figure out what it was I needed to say. It’s possible I didn’t actually need to say anything – the myth cycle is clear: she returns – but I couldn’t take the chance. I had to get it out there and into the world, into the universe just in case. It’s always better to be safe than sorry where Sekhmet is concerned…

The relief when I woke up on the 19th and knew that I would know, now and forever, if I had done what was expected, what was needed, and that she would return was palpable. It wasn’t just the prospective joy at her return that I was looking forward to. It was the end of the not-knowing that had plagued me for weeks. I had spent much of my personal time in a high level of anxiety and irrationality, always worried that I had fucked everything up and that she would not want to come back to me.

There is something that not a lot of people may realize, but I often worry that I am doing something wrong. Not just in my relationships with the other netjeru that both plague and populate my life, but with Sekhmet in its entirety. As I stumble over words/phrases that are unfamiliar to me, as I research into her as heavily as my English-only speech allows, as I wander aimlessly on this no-name bewildering turnpike, I am always so very anxious that she will realize she made a mistake, that I am not what she actually needs, and that she will leave me forever.

The pain at those thoughts can be overwhelming.

I spent much of the weeks preceding her return in a maudlin state between breaking down and screaming in rage at the mere idea that she may not come back. Couple all of that with the hell weeks I’ve been having since the year reset during the Epagomenal Days and it’s been… well, it’s been pretty heavy over here lately. The simple idea that I would finally know something definitive in one form or another was enough to get me through yet another rough day at work.

I came home and I just… felt her. She was everywhere. It’s kind of like when someone walks through a room and they leave the aura of their perfume or cologne behind. It lingers there until it finally dissipates from the air. Only instead of someone’s perfume or cologne, it was the distinctive feeling that let’s me know that this is Sekhmet. It is indescribable in all honesty, but I knew she was there. She was here. She was home. Maybe I wasn’t such a terrible devotee after all.

I took extra care with my appearance.

I put on my whites.

I lit every candle possible.

I brought the other icons of my netjeru over to watch.

I listened to music on my favorite Pandora channel and marveled at the shuffle.

I didn’t feel anxious. I didn’t feel like I had messed up. I didn’t feel grief. I didn’t feel worried. I knew I would wait until the perfect song had come on and I would simply know it was time. I knew that I would go over and I would unwrap her carefully. I knew I would joke and laugh and banter. I knew I would feel her in every pore of my skin, every cell of my body, every patter of my heart, every breath I took.

They say we are what we are
But we don’t have to be.
I’m bad behavior but I do it in the best way.
I’ll be the watcher (watcher) of the eternal flame.
I’ll be the guard dog of all your fever dreams.
Oooooooh
I am the sand in the bottom half of the hourglass (glass, glass)
Oooooooh,
I try to picture me without you but I can’t

Immortals by Fall Out Boy

I can feel you in my sleep In your arms I feel you breathe into me Forever hold this heart that I will give to you Forever I will live for you

I can feel you in my sleep
In your arms I feel you breathe into me
Forever hold this heart that I will give to you
Forever I will live for you

I was already more than a little drunk when I went over and began singing to her. I was more than a little drunk on alcohol and more than a little high on life. I felt her hands on my hands as I sang the song to her, giggling as I slid her wrapped icon into my open palm. The icons of my netjeru watched in their own breathless anticipation as I crooned to her unwrapped statue, telling her that we were immortals.

When she was back in front of me, I unwrapped my ib pendant from its golden wrappings and laid it at her feet. I turned everyone around to look at the glory that was my lady, returned to me finally after weeks of not knowing, of worry and depression, of sorrow and grief. We all rejoiced and I danced around the house, singing and laughing.

I felt like I had achieved a little bit of bliss in that moment, holding her icon in my hand.

As I knelt before her, whispering how I felt and reminding her that I was here, that I would not leave, and that I hoped that if she ever felt the need to leave me, she would at least warn me first, the song Awake and Alive by Skillet came over the radio station. I stopped speaking and listened to it attentively though I know the song by heart. It seemed the most appropriate thing she could fling at me and even if it was just the Pandora shuffle, it felt like she was speaking to me. Or more, that I was speaking to her and she was understanding what I wanted.

That night, I went to bed and I slept peacefully. I dreamed of Sekhmet again.

We were in our solitude. It was not quiet fore there were drums pumping and keeping time. I could feel her beside me as we sat quietly together. There was nothing to say, nothing that needed to be said. We sat in the moment, feeling the drums slowly up their ante to bring the celebrants into the altered state, the moment when she would reveal herself as the happy, joy-filled goddess she was in this moment.

The silence between us was not thick. It was simple.

We were together again.

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2015: The Vigil.

July 24, 2015 – August 19, 2015

Everyone processes grief in their own way. I vary in how I go through the stages. Sometimes, I just sit around and let it eat away at me, picking the gristle off of my bones until I am picked clean. Other times, I put it to use in some way, forcing that feeling into constructive ways until I feel like I can take a few steps forward again instead of being stuck in permanent mourning.

The honest truth is that I am not good with grief. I don’t think I have ever been good at it, at all. Maybe it’s a learned behavior and I missed the classes. How I process the pain of something or someone who I have lost is probably not the healthiest way. I think that’s part of the reason why I sat around, dumbfounded by the depth of my feeling when I realized that I had lost Sekhmet.

I didn’t know how to process it.

I mean, I get that she’ll be back. This isn’t a tragedy; there’s good news on the horizon.

But in the heat of the moment, I could only look around and see the dullness that my life had become without her burning fire to attract either my ire or my joy. It was like I had been living the last seven years of our relationship with rose-tinted glasses (ha) that had suddenly fallen off and I was seeing that the world was actually shades of gray. It was a monotonous nothing stretching out like a chasm before me, looking to devour me whole.

Even the knowledge, the sure-fire bet that she was coming back was not enough.

All I could do was process the fact in automatic fashion that I was full of sorrow. All I could do was process the fact in robotic manner that I was empty inside. All I could do was process the fact with blank eyes and empty heart that I was nothing without her and that this nothingness, emptiness, aching was what I would become without her.

It was a painful lesson.

It was jarring and eye-opening.

It was something that I needed, like a swift kick in the pants.

But oh, how it hurt.

The first real day that I was processing what it was I was going through, I sat down in front of her altar. I sat there feeling dejected and lonely. It felt to me like the world could never understand what it was I was going through.

There were no words to even describe the level of my loss. There weren’t even words to properly categorize the depth of my emotions on the subject. I sat there, alone and lost, feeling like I was on that runaway train that’s seconds from exploding an entire town with no way off and no rescue in sight.

I dreamed that night:

I am sitting on the floor in front of her altar space. I have my knees up, hugged to my chest tightly. If I let go of them, I know that I will be lost forever. Without her, without this stark reminder in the death grip I keep on my knees, I know that I am nothing.

Behind me, there is a sea of light and it grows brighter. Perhaps, this is her returned to me? I turn my head slightly, moving the waterfall of my hair. The lights are soft and gentle lanterns, a sea of them across the space of her altar.

I woke up from it, knowing just what to do.

April 12 - Vigil Candles

Vigil Candles by Tim Wang

I was cruising through a bunch of old poetry the day that I woke up from that dream. I like to re-read classical stuff sometimes. It kind of hits me close to home and it reminds me of the days when I cared about poetry. (I still kind of care, but not as much.)

I wound up finding a poem by Walt Whitman that kind of seemed appropriate given the circumstances behind that dream. The poem is titled, “Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night.” While I was reading it, I felt like a certain part of the poem really sort of cemented what it was that I needed to achieve:

Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me the battle-field spreading,
Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet there in the fragrant silent night,
But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh, long, long I gazed,
Then on the earth partially reclining sat by your side leaning my chin in my hands,
Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours with you dearest comrade—not a tear, not a word,
Vigil of silence, love and death, vigil for you…

As I read and re-read that poem, I kind of felt a little bit like I had been granted a reprieve though briefly. It felt to me like that I was finally getting somewhere with all of this grief instead of just drowning in it. I recreated a moment in a time, a single second where I felt like I needed to guide her back to me with gentle light.

I still was drowning in my attempts to know what words to use. I kept getting drawn back into The Distant Goddess myth cycle, hoping for something. But the words were like ash upon my tongue. I stared into my notebook for just such things and found that the blank page seemed more appropriate than anything I could think to say.

I looked at the candles on my altar, the lantern lit with the hope that she would see it and find her way back to me. I was hoping that something would come, but I found myself more frustrated at the attempts to put into words what it was I was feeling, what it was I wanted. I lit the candles and I stared at them thoughtfully, unable to fully grasp that I wasn’t ready to write anything related to the depths of my feelings.

I just had to be.

I had to let the monumental shower of my grief fade itself into the work that I was doing, creating vigils each night to lure her back to me. But it wasn’t even a lure – not really. I wasn’t looking to cajole her back. I wasn’t looking to beg her to come back. I just wanted her to return to me, to take me into her arms and tell me that she was back and we were over this hump.

It felt like loneliness was my lot life – death, destruction, and depression in every aspect. I was embodying it as I sat there, waiting for a hint, a glimmer, a spark of recognition from her in some way. Something, anything, that would signal it was time for her to come home.

tumblr_nsw6ouzOL91rdlelro1_1280

I can’t smile
Now I live alone
And you’re so far away
Fire Maple Song
by Everclear

I feel destitute and bedraggled. This isn’t a new feeling for me by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve lived through grief before this moment, this week, these past few weeks. But with all of the changes I had been going through for the last two years as I morphed into the being that I am today, I will admit that this form of mourning is harder than I had imagined it would ever be.

No matter what lessons I had learned or who had done the teaching, I was not even a little bit prepared.

I was thinking to myself the other day that this is the real moment, the real change to everything. I could almost feel the burn as changes seeped into my pores, into my bones, into my ib, into my soul. Everything before now was just the preparation to go into the big haul. Everything before this moment, this week, these last few weeks was nothing but putting all of the ingredients together in the mixing bowl.

This particular mystery thing has been like turning the mixer on, forcing my bones and skin and internal organs into a puree that will eventually turn me into… something.

Last year, I thought that I had it all figured out. I thought that I was going to do something new and cool and crazy and modern and be innovative. I thought I was going places, doing something with my fucking life. But I had only seen it all as taking time off. I had looked at it only as another attempt to get away from Sekhmet and the constant barrage of changes that I just didn’t feel like I could handle.

Honestly, that wasn’t even a practice run.

It was nothing.

But, she’s coming back soon.

This hell is almost over.

I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing; I haven’t quite decided yet.

As much as I may hunger for her presence, as much as I may depend on her, I know that this is a fulcrum for the things to come. And as much as I want her, I miss her, I love her, I demand that she fucking return already, I know that things are coming. And I don’t know if I can be all that I’m supposed to be when those things get here.

I have to laugh at myself because if I don’t, I might cry.

I just don’t know if the end to this sorrow, this grief, this hell that I have been going through is a good thing or if it is something that I should dread.

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2015: The Distant Goddess.

July 24, 2015 – August 19, 2015

One of the myths that I’ve only had a passing interest in was The Distant Goddess. I know that I’ve read it once or twice, but it was also a myth that seemed remote from me. Even though I have a relationship with Hetheru – the most often cited (though I have seen Tefnut and Mehit in this role as well) main protagonist of the myth cycle – it never seemed important to me on any level to pay much attention to it. I had the bare bones about it and I felt like that was sufficient.

The other day, I picked up The Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods by the Meeks and started going through it again. The last time I read it was close to 6 years ago, maybe more, and I have felt the need to get back to basics again lately. So, I parsed through the first chapter, highlighting sections that I found of interest. The most interesting section was the relation of The Distant Goddess myth with Sekhmet as the main character.

As I re-read the pertinent passage over and over again, I could see in my mind’s eye Sekhmet in an ancient land, licking her metaphorical wounds after having been bested by the other gods. I could see her sitting calmly on a savannah – a generic savannah – and waiting for them to beg her to come back to them. I could see her just doing what it is that a lioness on her own would do and I knew what it was, for just a moment, to truly know the distant goddess.

That night, I had a peculiar dream that left me feeling bereft when I awoke:

I am sitting on the floor with my back pressed against the table that serves as Sekhmet’s altar. I have my knees drawn up towards my chest. My head is down, my hair in my face. My body feels heavy.

It is dark and not just for the curtain of my hair. It is dark everywhere both inside and out. I can feel the darkness pounding through the house as I sit there, unable to move, unable to breath.

I am alone and without succor.

When I woke up from that dream, I felt like I had lost something so precious to me. I felt as if I had been forced to bury my child or my significant other. The depression that has been eating away at me for the last few months seemed to intensify and I felt truly alone.

It was at that moment that I truly realized how much I miss the presence of Sekhmet.

Bereft by William Harris Weatherhead

Bereft by William Harris Weatherhead, dated 1893

When I first decided to add Sekhmet into the Wep Ronpet celebrations, I didn’t really understand what it was I was trying to do. On a conscious level, I understood the framework of what I was building. I understood the bits about Mysteries and I kind of understood what the overall goal I was aiming to achieve was. But as I was re-reading The Distant Goddess in the Meeks book, I recognized that I didn’t know a fucking thing.

As I try to get back to what it was like last year, I realized that I was pounding through the experience as quickly as possible. I was in a rush to get the foundations laid so that she and I could disappear from one another’s lives for 5 weeks. Our relationship wasn’t very good at that point and I was still bucking like a bronco at the feel of her claws around my neck whenever I was able.

I was in too much of a hurry to do any real thinking on what I hoped to achieve as a long term goal. Truth be told, I don’t honestly think I had any long term goals in mind. I think I was just trying to escape from the insanity that had become my everything when it related to Sekhmet. I needed an out. I needed to get away. I just wanted to run away and hide from it all.

She let me go into this with the notion that this was a vacation, knowing full well that I would either grow up or I would fight against whatever she would tell me.

I don’t talk about it much but Sekhmet is willing to give us the rope that we need in order to figure things out on our own. The length varies depending on the circumstances. In my case, I had a very long, long rope and it took me a year to figure out what to do with it.

We may hate this as devotees of hers, wanting her to hold our hands to see us through even when we fight back against the hand holding. (Who said relationship building with the gods made any sense?)  We may not realize that the rope is there, but it always is. No matter how cloying her presence may feel in our lives or how distant she may be from us, the rope is always there. We can either use that rope to pull ourselves out of the pit or we can hang ourselves with it.

I chose a fantastic blend of both and she let me.

Shatter

Shatter by Kyle Thompson

Sekhmet has been gone now for two and a half weeks. I have two and a half more left to go before she returns.

I find myself haunting her altar space, trying to figure out how all of this relates to me, how I can handle the blank space deep within my ib that is empty. She has taken the best parts of me and left the dregs behind. I feel inferior and unable to cope with the blankness deep inside. Everything hurts again, a pain that I am both familiar and not familiar with. It’s almost like she gutted me when she left, working her brand of heka to keep me alive until she returns.

I keep looking around,  hoping that there is some road map that will teach me both how to handle her absence. I keep winding up on support group websites, reading about others’ grief. It’s not the same though. My grief is profound and heavy; it tears apart my bones. I feel it in the marrow, in the blood, in the pieces of me that her disappearance has crafted.

I can feel it like a drum beat just beneath my skin. It’s loudest at the temples of my head, an unending scream that would outlive Edvard Munch’s painting of the same name. The pounding in my head and the sorrow at her absence is enough to drive anyone crazy.

That’s the point, though, isn’t it? She is supposed to be distant from me; she is supposed to leave and to come back in her own time,  and I am supposed to sit here waiting, sitting vigil in her absence with my grief. My vigil is pain filled and harrowing. I feel like the rise of a new day is a miraculous moment that I must share with her, but she is gone. I feel like the simple fact that I breathed through yet another night with her still missing is a miracle, something to share with her, but again she is gone and I am alone.

I keep returning to The Distant Goddess myth, in the hopes that I can learn how to lure her back home. I found the pieces about Djehuty going out to her, tempting her to return, and I read the bits about Shu who did likewise. Neither piece fit into my haphazard diaspora, nothing worked into the puzzle that this self-made mystery is about.

How can I possibly lure her back to me? Do I trick her? Do I tell her the truth? Does the truth outweigh the sorrow infused in seven years of our love-hate relationship?

I need her. I am nothing but an automaton. I am lost without her. I can feel the moment of her leaving, the second that I broke into a thousand pieces, and I know that this isn’t enough to bring her back. I am alone and lost, hoping that one day she returns to me.

Intercalary Days 2015.

July 25, 2015 – July 29, 2015

Dua Wesir!

Dinner pt 1Dinner pt 2The first day of the epagomenal days and we are celebrating the birth of Big O. The stoic green-faced guy who probably had too much LSD in the 70s. The backbone of ancient Egypt. The eldest child of Nut and Geb. The one. The only. Osiris.

I started off with a good, healthy meal of garlic tilapia filets, fresh baked Italian bread with butter, and sauteed zucchini. I hand picked all of the green peanut M&Ms out of the bag while simultaneously (no seriously, it was a simultaneous thing) setting up the bundle of flowers I purchased for this week.

I provided a glass of milk to finish off the healthier part of dinner and then added a healthy dose of rum into some diet Coke. (H-dubs seems very put out that I was cracking into “his” Cruzan for this. He’s going to be pretty upset when he realizes Big Red is getting some too.)

Now we’re all digesting our meal and O seems to be pointedly not talking to me – possibly because on top of embarrassingly and off-key singing the birthday song, I may have also sang (less off-key) to the tune of Eulogy by Tool, which he found not so amusing. (I found it fucking hilarious.) But it could also be because I bought fish for dinner.

Dua Heru-Wer!

Dinner pt 1Dinner pt 2The second day of the epagomenal days and we are celebrating the birth of H-dubs. The quiet bird guy who everyone forgets about. The first Horus to fuck up Set’s day. The second child of Nut and Geb. The one. The only. Heru-Wer.

I started off with a good, healthy meal of Moroccan salad minus the chickpeas, cucumbers, and fresh bread with butter. Since I had planned ahead yesterday and sorted through all of the peanut M&Ms, I was able to toss all the blue ones into the bowl and then added 5 yellow ones.

I provided a glass of milk to finish off the healthier part of dinner and then added a healthy dose of rum into some diet Coke. He tried to get me to pour more than a single shot and seemed mildly put out that I have to work in the morning.

Now we’re having some quiet time, singing and dancing ridiculously to Timber by Pitbull featuring Kesha. I may have mentioned this once but this is like our song. He was harassing me while I was cooking dinner, demanding that I play it at least once while I celebrate the glory that is the Derpy Hawk Bird. I have played it twice now and there looks like a third time may be in the works (depending on my mood by that point).

Dua Set!

Dinner pt 1Dinner pt 2Today is the third day of the epagomenal days [for me] and we are celebrating the birth of Big Red. The tackiest, gaudiest motherfucker ever to exist. The villain everyone loves to hate and hates to love (or vice versa). The third child of Nut and Geb. The one. The only. Set.

He got leftovers today because I didn’t have the necessary ingredients for tacos. He seems mildly irritated that I had cooked fresh meals for his brothers but he was getting H-dubs leftovers. I pointed out that his sisters were getting leftovers as well and he seemed mildly cheered by this fact. He got red M&Ms with a few brown ones mixed in and fresh bread with butter.

I provided a glass of milk to finish off the healthier part of dinner and then added some rum to some diet Coke. (The high pitched screaming coming from H-dubs, like he had been truly wounded or something, was amazing. I feel like this was almost as painful as the time Set ripped out his eye.)

When I went to revert dinner, Set was not having any of it. I had the distinct impression he was totally shoving the couscous in by the copious handful and told me, “nooooo,” with his disgusting mouth full. When I apologized for not having more cucumbers and for denying cooked zucchini, he pointed out that I had grapes in the fridge and I should get them.

Let me reiterate this: I had forgotten that I had bought grapes. He had scoped out my fridge and reminded me about the grapes. He got a kind of stingy clipping of grapes and Serious Look for combing through the contents of my refrigerator without permission.

He said the grapes are terrific.

Dua Aset!

Dinner pt 1Dinner pt 2The epagomenal days [for me] and we are celebrating the birth of Big Ass…et. The mom who will hound your ass until you die if you don’t clean your room. The lady who turns into a bird to get it on with people whose bodies have been torn asunder. The fourth child of Nut and Geb. The one. The only. Aset.

She also received leftovers because I had absolutely no intention of putting myself out for her. We have had a lot of issues in the last year or something like that and I am not the forgive and forget type. But you know, neither is she. She got the bread and butter shtick and the yellow M&Ms. The only reason she got grapes was because I remembered I had them.

I provided a glass of milk and then added some vanilla vodka to diet Coke because the ladies get vanilla vodka. This seemed to be the only thing she was interested in from me and I left it out for as little as possible because I’m just as much an ass as she is.

Dua Nebthet!

Dinner pt 1Dinner pt 2The fifth day of the epagomenal days [for me] and we are celebrating the birth of Nebthet. The one who lives in the shadow of her big sister. The woman who was married to Set and then helped her sister find her torn apart husband’s body parts. The fifth child of Nut and Geb. The one. The only. Nebthet.

I felt bad that she was getting leftovers like everyone else because I had actually intended on cooking. Well, that didn’t happen at all because it’s so bloody hot and I just couldn’t stomach the idea of having to turn on the oven (so I took my kid out for dinner). Nebthet just seemed happy she was getting some recognition for once. She also had bread and butter as well as grapes (why stop a good thing?)

We’re out of milk because I’m trash I didn’t stop for any on the way home so she only got  some vanilla vodka to diet Coke. She squealed with delight and I’m pretty sure she told me this is the best meal she’s had in a while. She gave me a sad boner to learn more about her.