Stasis.

Dust coats the flat surfaces of my altars. In passing, I can see the fingerprints and smudges from passersby. I keep asking myself if I should clean it; I don’t have an answer.

The battery candles pop on at the same time every night. I think about the batteries and ask myself if I should shut them off; I don’t have an answer.

The sun rises and it sets, the moon follows suit. I used to think there was some poetry in all of it and maybe a hint of the divine. I ask myself if it even matters anymore; I don’t have an answer.

Tomorrow is the first day of a brand new year. I keep asking myself if this means I should pay more attention to my gods; I don’t have an answer.

When the year was a little over half over, I was ready to write it off. I was tired of fighting back in July and wanted to stop having to try. Right then, when I wrote that entry and hit the post button, I knew what I could look forward to for the next five months: more bullshit, more disappointment, more fighting.

Why bother? I asked myself. I never came up with a good answer to the question. I would mull on it periodically, asking myself why I was bothering anymore. I stuttered on some answer, trying to jump start the next step, maybe rekindle a hint of hope. But I honestly couldn’t answer such a simple fucking question.

All of the little goals and the big ones I had hoped to achieve never got close enough. I knew back in July that what I had been looking to do for 2017 wasn’t going to happen as one thing after another went to shit. I blamed myself, cried furtively about it, and buried whatever new failure had reared its head behind a progressively growing wall of internalized nihilism.

For a while, I blamed the state of the world. Why bother when the world is crashing down and this is what we have to offer the next generation. Arguments and missile strikes and war and toxicity and climate change and “p.c. culture” and every other new fucking thing that’s hit us.

Hope is easy when there are rays of it everywhere or at least, visibly seen. Rays of hope are hard when the fucking shit is constantly hitting the fucking fan and there’s no pause between this round and the next.

How many Tumblr “please reblog and call your senator” posts did I scroll by? How many spot on fucking tweets did I see retweeted thousands of times and screen shot on FB with still the same fucking shit happening the next day and the day after? How many hatch marks could we cross off in the win column compared with the hundreds in the lose? It got to be too much. The daily worldwide overload was just as bad as the daily personal overload.

I think it was in October when I realized that I had given up. I woke up and did the bare minimum to get through the day. I had no plans beyond the day I had just started or just gotten through. I made little goals and maybe I’d meet them. Sometimes I did; mostly I didn’t. I shrugged off the feeling of futility and kept trucking on because forward, even slowly, was the only direction to go.

That’s when I stopped blaming the world and started blaming the gods. My theory about why the blame should be laid at their feet makes sense even if only to me: they’re not gods of the here and now. No matter how much political or personal heka I toss out there, they’re not from this time and place as much as devotees may try. Their finite resources are for the important bits – maybe like their own survival – and fuck everything else.

Well, maybe not quite like that.

Maybe they feel sorry about it. Maybe they just really can’t because shit is so fucked outside in the world and inside me personally that ma’at flew the coop long ago and there’s no more balance left to achieve. I frankly don’t know, but I’m strangely okay with it.

It’s possible this theory just sounds like doubt, lack of belief, lack of faith. The funny thing is that I don’t disbelieve in the gods. I’ve had too much shit happen to me because of them to suddenly turn atheist. This pet theory of mine… well, it just makes sense. But I can see why it may sound a little crackpot.

A couple months ago, I bought a wooden icon of Saint Anthony of Padua. It was a joke really. I had been looking for Saint Francis because of a story my mom had told me months before. I didnt like the Saint Francis icon the shop had and landed myself onto Saint Anthony.

I knew him of course. My mom invoked him, out of all the saints, the most when I was a kid because something she needed was always missing. It’s actually so ingrained in me to ask Saint Anthony for help when something is lost that it’s out of my mouth before I consciously think of it.

It didn’t occur to me until recently that maybe I always liked Papa Legba was because I had already felt comfort in the classic Catholic imagery he wears as a guise.

And then, I dreamed about Ezili Dantor in her Black Madonna imagery. I can remember the deep darkness of her face flashing against the white of her eyes and the gold imagery surrounding her like a halo. The child in her lap was happy.

I found it frightening and comforting to dream of a foreign religion, something I had set aside in an effort to further pursue a religion that hasn’t made me happy in so long. My Hougan friend said it was probably time for another reading, just like I did two years ago to see what this was about. I wasn’t thrilled with the advice – my last reading was kind of painful – but it makes sense.

I hadn’t really made much of a decision since the chat. Kind of yes, kind of no. I waffled because that’s what I do when I have to make a decision and make appointments.

Today, when I pulled the Skull of Flowers from the Halloween Oracle, I remembered the decision I hadn’t bothered to make. I thought about the changes that have happened for my Hougan friend since he went that route and all the stasis I’ve been sitting in.

What harm’s a reading anyway? Maybe Someone can finally tell me how to rekindle hope.

Advertisements

Faith Is a Dirty Five-Letter Word.

One of the things that really irritates me about paganism in general is the fact that you can’t use the word “faith” without someone climbing all over you. It’s almost as if people, and by people, I mean pagans, think that the word only belongs in Christian, Islamic, and Jewish religions. And that’s something that bugs me so much, I can’t even formulate words to explain how irritating it is. When did we start drawing our metaphorical lines in the sand about words that we can and cannot use? Do we not practice religions? Do we not believe that they are real? Do we not cry in joy and in sorrow as other religious people do? Then, why is it suddenly taboo to utilize a word that encompasses everything that we do just as awesomely as it does when in relation to monotheistic religions?

The thing is that people tend to just think that faith is a word derived to only include monotheistic faiths, or at least that is the appearance. There are people who openly and actively scoff at people who claim to have faith. In some cases, scoffing could be warranted. But, it’s not our place to sit around and act high-and-mighty to pagans who are saying, clearly, “I have faith. I believe in things I can’t prove. I trust that they are real.” You can have issues with the things going on around you, whether your life is burning down around you or whether everything is going smoothly, but by sneering at someone who falls under the same umbrella category as you for having faith and saying so out loud? Well, honestly, that seems to me like not following the first rule of ma’at: don’t be a dick. And it also smacks a bit of jealousy and childishness.

Now, I will admit that there are a lot of people who cannot define the word or perhaps, do not understand the meaning behind the word. I can’t be the only person in human history who has had difficulty trying to convey the emotional level of believing in things that we will never be able to prove adequately to anyone but ourselves. I’ll admit, I’ve looked up the etymology of words for as long as I can remember because I like knowing where words come from. In this situation, I’ve done the same. And in this context, the word faith comes from the root, Latin word fider, which means to trust.

And if we aren’t putting our trust in the fact that all of these things we do and see and think and hear and believe and go to are real, then what the fuck are we doing? What are we actually doing in all of this anyway? What’s the point in having a religion if you don’t have faith? What’s the point in working with the gods, that you can’t prove, if you don’t have faith? Why are you bothering gods in the first place if you don’t have faith that they are real? Why are you going to the astral if you don’t have faith that you’re honestly going? Why are going talking with the fae and think you’re an otherkin if you don’t trust, just a little bit, that all of these things you are seeing and doing and thinking are real?

All of those questions? Everything I’ve just said?

In even thinking it, without having concrete evidence that it is real, then that is all faith.

One day, when I was trying to talk with TH about all of this, I couldn’t even define faith to him. I couldn’t explain to him that I just believed that I will meet up with my ex-Chistian friend in the next life and we will move on from our past hurts. I believe in reincarnation. I have no evidence that it is real. I have fragmented memories from a past that I do not currently own. But, being able to describe moments of someone else’s life isn’t proof positive in anything. It may just mean that, as a history major, I remember inane details. Be that as it may, I absolutely believe that it is as real as you and me and the couch that I’m sitting on. I have faith that these things will happen. And in that next life, I hope that I have the faith to believe in them again.

I could not, for the life of me, explain to him the emotional responses I get when I work with my gods in any context. If I think about it enough, I will begin to cry. It’s not that there is anything wrong with it or with me or with the work we do together, but that I have no words and it frustrates me enough to cry. This should tell people that I am exceedingly more devout than I make myself out to be. Surprise. Aubs has faith. Aubs believes fully in what she does and who she is doing it with. And surprise of all surprises (not least of all me), it actually hurts when people get up in arms when I start using the word “faith.”

I don’t think that things I am going through or working toward are for any other purpose than the Bigger Picture, aka living in ma’at. The art form that is maintaining ma’at, especially from a deity perspective, means that good shit and bad shit happens. It means that sometimes, you get the shaft end of the stick and lose your job. But, for whatever reason, it’s an act of ma’at and we are people who cannot question, but we must continue. If we want to prevent isfet from overtaking the world, then we sit down and shut the fuck up. We have faith in the fact that, while not good things are happening, then at least the Bigger Picture is maintained and that’s all that should matter to any of us who are Kemetic.

The world will go on.

Life will go on.

Psst. Believing that those things will go on?

That’s another act of faith.

Thoughts on Prayers.

I’ve noticed an exceedingly disturbing trend (to me) in which people only pray when the shit hits the fan. I’m not saying that this is a predominantly pagan or Christian occurrence. I see it in both religious instances, to be perfectly frank, but it absolutely and one hundred percent disturbs me to no end. I can’t tell you that I have the best possible way to do things because I don’t really think any one person’s way is better than anybody else’s. (Hm, a fundamental issue with two out of the three of the Big 3, me thinks.) I don’t feel the need to lord it over others’ heads that I’ve “been doing it longer” so therefore, I must be a walking god or some shit. Nope, no. Nada. That’s not me. But I will say that this whole trend to turn to deities when shit gets real seems pretty fucking stupid.

This is the stone edifice that held dominion over my soul while I was a child. Pretty, huh?

This is the stone edifice that held dominion over my soul while I was a child. Pretty, huh?

It’s possible that the reason I have this issue is because, quite frankly, I didn’t pray as a child. I was technically a Christian. I went to church. I sat through my Sunday school classes. I’m sure I picked up a thing or six in the entire time I went there. But, praying wasn’t one of them. Fellow Methodists may know what I’m talking about – I’m a little fuzzy on how other religions do it that aren’t Catholic – but when it came time to do that Sunday-only little epistle to God, where we all bowed our heads and said some things to the Big Guy In the Sky, I really didn’t know what to say. I was always at a loss for words. It seemed to me, even back then, that talking about how I’m miserable in school because I have no friends, nobody understands me and oh yeah, my dad was dead… It just didn’t seem like the kind of thing to talk about with the Christian God.

Besides, I had done all my praying about my daddy as a kid. It seems to me that, you know, if he wasn’t going to pull a second Lazarus on my dad, then he was probably not going to want to listen to my rage at ‘im for that.

So more often than not, I would bow my head and study my hands. Or I would imagine what it would be like to fly to the big, huge stone rafters over my head. I would draw stick figures on the programs they give out – why do people feel the inherent need to know what’s going to happen in a two-hour long Sunday ceremony? there will be praise and Bible and greetings, it’s all pretty much the same – or play hangman with myself since my kid brother would go to the kids’ chapel and I’d get bored with my mom. Some times, I imagined by unicorn and horse herd in the cordoned off seats to our right. (Don’t ask.) And other times, I would get up twenty times “to pee” just to explore the building without any adult supervision because, frankly, I had really nothing of interest to say to the Christian deity.

Often, I’ll see Christians, now, talk about how they’re praying to get things going the way they want. The thing is that I just don’t really think that the Christian deity they’re working with is very intent or cares very much. This may have something to do with my delving into voodoo in my practices. (They believe that Bondye exists, but that he’s pretty damn impartial and not-caring, which is why lwa are around – they get the jobs we desire done.) So, I mean, I could clearly say that I’m biased here. Why would the Christian god, after giving over the only begotten child for our sins, really give two shits about whether or not the car gets paid off in time or whether or not we have walking pneumonia versus a really bad chest cold? I just don’t see it. But, I think my bias here is mostly in the fact that, as a kid, I was taught that you prayed to your god when things got real and then, maybe a miracle would happen and maybe it wouldn’t.

Since the miracle of resurrection didn’t happen with my father, I kind of figured that anything else, paling in comparison to that, wasn’t on the Christian deity’s list of things to do. And I’ll be frank, I just can’t see praying to a mortal who died for sins. Considering all the stuff that they claim the Christ went through, I mean, it seems really wrong to ask him for anything. HULLO? CROWN OF THORNS? I know that was supposedly the point and all, but any problem I can come up with, sans not resurrecting my dad, is probably not going to measure up on the list of “miracles to grant.” Getting a car paid off, hoping it’s not pneumonia, getting a job… All these things just don’t seem like the kind of things either of those two divinities would care to talk about or make happen. Again, it kind of comes down to, let’s compare notes on what we think is bad versus how it probably was for the Christ and, you know, nothing compares to his prayers that you know, he probably NOT die a miserable, horrific death. Or that people use his name to start wars BUT WHATEVER.

So, what the fuck does this have to do with my gods, my prayers?

You’ll notice that I have an entire category called “Letters.” In that category, I offer some of my more formalized prayers to various gods. I believe there is one in there to Sutekh, one or two to Sekhmet, one or two to Ptah… So, obviously, I have prayed to my gods when things were bad. Obviously, I’m ranting and raving here about something that I’m guilty of doing.

Sorta.

The thing is that I talk to my gods daily. I go over and I give them their daily offerings. And throughout the day, I pray to them. “O, Sekhmet, give me strength to not fall asleep during this boring, boring shift.” Or, “O, Hetharu, remind me to love myself.” However, those aren’t the only kinds of prayers I do with them, either. When I’m baking for the gods, that’s a prayer right there to me. When I’m cleaning their altars, I’m praying that I get the arrangements right. When I did my Thanksgiving, polytheist style, I was praying to all of my gods. I wasn’t asking them to make things happen; I was telling them that I trusted that things would happen. It’s not a miracle. It just is. The Universe, the gods, the lwa, they will all provide for me. I may not understand what it is I have to go through now, which is… pretty bad, but I believe that they will hold out. That they will show me the way. It’s just a matter of my getting through the tough times long enough to see the happening materialize.

So, yes.

I pray to my gods. I talk to them daily. I tell them about how hard it is for me to believe that things will work out. I’ve fallen down, sobbing hysterically, in front of my altars and demanded to know why this shit is happening to me. I’ve had my moments where I have raged at them, angrily, because I don’t understand why things are the way they are. But, I don’t just turn to them about that. I talk to them about how my kid is great, even when he annoys me. I talk to them about how excited I am about going Christmas tree hunting with TH’s family or how I’m so happy my nephew is finally taking tiny steps (even though walking, on his own, is probably a long, long way off). I talk to them about how I’m worried a new god is coming in. I talk to them about how I will find a job. I talk to them in positives and in negatives. I don’t just go to them with all of my problems, unload, and expect them to fix it.

That’s just not how this works, as far as I am concerned.

While I will often tell people that if you don’t doubt, then the miracle can’t happen, I also believe that telling your deity of choice about the good stuff and the bad stuff is how the relationship works. It’s just like a having a friendship or a relationship with a significant other: it’s not all puppies and rainbows and unicorn farts. Sometimes, you’ve got to discuss the bad thing going around. I’m jobless. I’m worried we’ll end up homeless if what the Hubby told me is accurate. I can’t fix my car to get to jobs outside of the Springfield area or to get the Hubby to any jobs that may open up in the next month or two. I don’t really have the money to pay the bills and I’m hoping that they really can’t shut off the heat in the winter time. I talk to my gods about my worries and my fears.

But, I tell them about the good things, too.

And I think that’s something that all divisions of faiths, from Christian to pagan, need to do. Otherwise, what’s the point in praying if all you’re doing is inundating them with the bad shit? Why would they want to have a relationship with a Negative Nelly?

Would you?

If A Man Be Lacking In Good Fellowship, No Speech Has Any Influence Upon Him.

be·lief
–noun
1. something believed; an opinion or conviction. 2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof. 3. confidence; faith; trust. 4. a religious tenet or tenets; religious creed or faith.

faith
–noun
1. confidence or trust in a person or thing. 2. belief that is not based on proof. 3. belief in god or in the doctrines or teachings of religion. 4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc. 5. a system of religious belief. 6. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc. 7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one’s promise, oath, allegiance, etc. 8. Christian Theology the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.

In regards to belief and faith, these two words are not interchangeable although they both seem to have a similar essence. It is through belief that religion is given life in one’s heart and mind, but it is through the leap of faith that we keep that burning belief alive. If we held onto a belief, such as that of Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, then we would have the faith that Santa would come every Christmas morning and that when we lost a tooth, the Tooth Fairy would show up with money beneath our pillow. As you grow older and you stop believing in “childish notions” such as the Tooth Fairy, then I think it becomes harder for those of us to continue a belief and to continue to have faith.

I have a belief that there are many gods out there. I believe in all pantheons, whether I worship from them or not. I think that all of the gods are moving around up there, somewhere, and watching out for us. They had lost their belief structure a long time ago when the Christian God came and muscled them out of His way. Do I blame Him? No. I think it a heady thing for any form of god to have worshipers and even more exciting for them to have people do anything to maintain them. I think that if I were in the shoes of the old gods, I would have been upset at the decline, but I would have understood the need for change. That isn’t to say that I don’t think the many gods are happy with the way things have gone–far from it–but I do believe that they have finally come to a live, and let live policy on the whole thing.

And besides, they have believers now.

I have a belief that when I ask for help from the gods, they will grant it to me if I am deserving. I have a belief that if I wake them every morning, they will be satisfied. I have a belief that they are happy with their daily offerings. I have a belief that they are thrilled with my open acknowledgment of their existence. I have a belief that they are there and watching over us. I have a belief that they will help me to protect my son with everything they have. I have a belief that they agree that he should have a form of god-protection in his room. I have a belief that they speak to me every day, either in my mind or with things that I see and things that I hear. I have a belief that they are here.

However, it is with faith that I bring them alive in my life. And I have little faith at the moment.

I believe that they exist, but I have little faith to put it into practice.

I have always had a problem with faith.

I think this stems from the blind faith movement that all religions ask for: You just simply have to have the faith that they really are there and that they really are listening. You can believe it with your mind, but faith is an act of the heart. My heart is shriveled, used, and cold most of the times. My heart is so used to the anger and the hurt and the pain that to have anything positive within it is a new, painful sensation. Not only that, but it is difficult to maintain.

Faith is an act of the heart, while belief is the act of the mind. It is easy to train the mind, but more difficult to train the heart.

How do you train your heart when you think it’s broken? How do you train your heart to believe the same things as your mind? How do you manage to give yourself that which every human being, a basic belief in something that is unchangeable? How can anyone do this on a daily basis? I feel like I’m lacking on this. I feel like I am so far behind everyone else who walks a similar path. How do I become a good follower, one who has both belief and faith?

I have one, but little of the other. How do I fix this?

He said that faith is like a glass of water. When you’re young, the glass is small, and it’s easy to fill up. But the older you get, the bigger the glass gets, and the same amount of liquid doesn’t fill it anymore. Periodically, the glass has to be refilled.