The Break.

You ever just get so tired of all the nattering going on around you that you just want to throw your hands in the air and scream, “fuck it,” while you stomp around like a child? Or, you ever just get so fed up with everything that you finally realize if you don’t do something, possibly crazy and definitely unintended, you’ll end up wrapped in those hug-yourself coats for a few years? Or, maybe, you just get so sick and tired of the constant background commentary going on around you that you finally come to the crushing realization that you are so far off your intended course and you don’t know how to get back there? Yeah, I’ve been there. Hell, I’m still there. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get back to where I want to go, but I know that I need some time – a few weeks, a few months, a few years, the rest of my life – so that I can at least try to choreograph my movements more precisely…

I’ve been pretty tired regarding all religious items for the last few months. Everything that I have been building up to and creating had been jettisoned to the backseat in since, oh, around February or thereabouts. It was something that would leave me awake late at night, while I stared at the ceiling unable to sleep. All of the things I’ve been doing lately have all been those surreal and frightening experiences relating to my godphone or adventures on the astral. Everything was suffering because of this, not least of all me. I have to admit that when it comes to constantly having some really tough fucking conversations with beings who are bigger than you are, it can take a lot out of you. Never mind the addition of running around on the astral and the absolute desecration it can have on my energy reserves/spoon management. I have to say that since my godphone got really loud this year, everything has suffered. It’s felt very much like I’ve been trudging along and just trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy as my Kemetic practice slammed on the breaks and halted in its steps.

Every post I’ve written regarding the whole “doing as opposed to thinking” or the entries where I harp on how we need to live in ma’at or the entries when I go on about how we need to remind ourselves that our religion is an orthopraxy… Every single one of those posts in recent months would rear their heads at me on those nights where I would toss and turn because of religious matters. It was like a poker of guilt had begun to wedge itself at the back of my mind until I found myself unable to do anything but ponder how much I was putting off or not doing. There are so many varied aspects to my practice, specifically relating to the orthopraxy, that I try to do. But with each step further into the astral, each step further into questioning my sanity, I began to feel like I was failing all over the place. I knew that I needed a break, some quiet time, and figure out what in the world the next step with all of this was.

The thing is about asking for a time out is that you may not necessarily get it. As many parents are wont to say to their children, “the worst they can do is say no.” And in this case, it was something that was a little more important than asking if you could borrow someone’s Hot Wheels or asking to go along on a shopping trip to the mall. I was asking for myself, specifically, and a deep-seated need to step away from everything that was peripheral. I needed to jump back into the foundations of what my practice is supposed to be – laity – and shunt things forward on that. If I’m legitimate about wanting to create a layperson practice specifically for other people in my shoes, then I need to focus on what the hallmarks of that laity will be so I can explain it to others. And frankly, I’m having a hard time focusing entirely on work nowadays with all the head crap going on inside of me. There was no way I was going to be able to adequately focus on what I needed to without some form of, “I need some indefinite time off while I work on this.”

I have to admit that I’ve felt completely wrung out in recent months. I know a lot of it has to do with my personal life and work life. Neither of those two items have been particularly … smooth lately. It takes a lot out of you. But, even with all of the crap going on when I was unemployed or I was having troubles with my family, I had the ability to throw myself gung-ho into my religious practice. I knew that while things may been kind of crappy in other arenas that at least my religious practice was where I needed it to be. And it would always just be there to help me pick up the pieces with everything else sucking so badly. However, since I started working I’ve noticed a severe downtrend in my religious life. While I have attempted to keep a balance, it was like the only answer was to listen to the godphone messages and to have those conversations and to go to the astral more frequently. Bitterly, I would give in to each impulse to discuss, to go, and ten times more bitterly, I would come from those sojourns knowing that I was failing somehow, somewhere, in some way…

Whether or not my OTHERS™ saw it as that is irrelevant here. I know for a fact that they were quite all right with my going off to do the things. However, I was not all right with this trade off. I know that it works in some peoples’ practices, but not mine. I’m supposed to be creating a fluid practice based on laity for all and sundry to pick and choose from. I’m supposed to be the keeper of the faith – the person who tells everyone, “Hey, yeah, it sucks but you have faith in your gods, right? So keep it going.” I’ve still been sending those messages, but I no longer feel like I’m as full of faith as I used to be. And damn it to fucking hell, that fucking bothers me. That’s the whole point – to me and my thoughts – in this shit, “have faith.” And if I’m having some severe troubles with the “have faith” message I try to pass around, then I think there’s a huge fucking problem. No matter what my OTHERS™ may think or feel on the subject, this is about me and what the hell I had initially wanted when I entered this whole religious sojourn.

So, I asked for a break.

Not in so many words.

How do you convey to your gods that you can’t do this anymore? How can you really just sit down, look them in the eye, and say, “I need a time out. Please put me in the corner.” That statement makes it sound so, so easy and it’s just really not. After years and years of wanting this whole kind of experience – and getting it – I was asking for them to kind of take it back. And it wasn’t like I was saying, “for right this second” or “for the next few months.” I was just thinking that I needed a huge break. The volume was too high and the words were too painful and there was so much fucking chattering from every fucking corner of my religious life that it was just… eating at me. So, without using words and without really getting into the details here, I kind of surged my feels at all of them. After writing my post about the godphone mess, I just felt all of these horrible, awful things relating to my practice and just kind of made them realize what the hell was going on with me. Why things were slowing down; why I felt like I had no energy; why everything was too difficult to do besides sitting on my ass when I got home from work… I just laid it all out there without thinking or even talking or even asking, but just feeling. That night I dreamed I went to a party with every single one of my gods.

The lwa were conspicuous only in their absence.

I didn’t really understand what it was I was seeing in this dream. All day, I thought about it. I wanted it to mean as a kind of like “farewell, bon voyage” kind of thing. That’s what I was hoping. When I got home from work, I decided I needed to at least ask if that was the case. I pulled cards to clarify. It felt like if I tried to contact them via the godphone thing that I was really just saying, “kidding!” And besides, I had used my cards for so long and had relied on them so heavily. And then in recent months, you know since February or so, I stopped paying attention to them outside of the general deck I use for everyone but me. I just… It’s like this quintessential need to go back to the “simpler times” we hear old fogeys talk about. Yeah, you know… it was exactly like that.

There’s something really meditative, for me, when it comes to reading cards. So, I was pleased with myself when I very easily went running to something that I knew, for sure. I mean, yeah. It’s always possible that I could be screwing up the interpretation. And in same vein, maybe some netjeri takes a hold of what it is I pull and fucks up everything. But, there is just something soothing about the control of being able to, well, see the future for a bit. During the entire reading, as I went through the meaning behind each card, I kept getting this feeling like I had a year to see this reading through to its completion. And you know what? I was pretty okay with that time frame. A whole year to get through whatever it was the cards were telling me? That seemed like a pretty good deal, all said and done.

The gist of that reading? I had to focus on the foundation of my practice. I had to go back to the beginning, sort of. There was more to it than that. The cards all hinted at the return of my energy and a return of my faith, which is an excellent idea if you ask me. But it also told me that it was time to start applying all that I’ve learned, from the books and from others and from various trial and error, to get this cohesive unit of a practice going. It also reminded me that I have a strong intuition – which is where I get the ability to Tarot so effectively, if you ask me – and that no matter how much I cry, later, about taking this back, I had to keep going and trust my intuition. And frankly, unless my gods are planning on smiting me down all wroth like, then I don’t think I really care right now. What matters is that I’m getting what I wanted.

After a year or more of constantly being told I have no choice in anything that gets thrown my way this is… well, it’s a novel experience.

It’s like asking for a lollipop and getting an entire chocolate cake for dessert instead.

It’s time to get back to the foundation of what it is I’ve been intending on building from the get-go. It’s time to remind myself that I am full of faith. It is time to stop worrying so heavily about whether I’m normal or insane. It’s time to get back to it. Now, let’s just see where we should begin…


The Hermit.

Recently, my Radiant Rider-Waite deck and I have been in a hate-hate relationship. It started requiring a lot more energy than usual in order to use them. I’m pretty sure it’s my fault that this ended up happening, but it happened. So, I put them up and away for a while, telling them that they needed to behave themselves when I use them. And everything was fine until a friend of mine requested a reading. This friend has asked me a couple of times since I put the deck up and away for a reading and yesterday, I decided to pull them out. I tend to bring my deck with me to TH’s family get-togethers as a way to obviously ignore people. (Since apparently my reading means that everyone has to come over and see what I’m reading and ask questions, but not with Tarot cards – I don’t fucking get it.) And I figured if I was in public, the deck would behave itself properly. And it did. On a whim, I began shuffling and “lololol” asked it about my religious life. The first two cards of the reading were unimportant as I’m passed that, but my current phase? It’s the Hermit.

At first, I thought that this was entirely based on my community mongering. I’ve been so intent with community building and the project therein that I’ve written about needing one no less than once a month in the last year (or more). And in all that time, I’ve been so focused on the community that I’m having issues in my personal practice. The thing is that we are working with a religious framework that, while it is community based, is also outside of our normal framework. Many of us solitary Kemetics are coming into this religion from a monotheistic background, which may or may not have a communal backbone as Kemeticism does. (I know my childhood monotheistic practices were not community based, though there was a community within it.) And to compound the appearance of getting nowhere fast with the community posts that we’ve had going around, I’m rather tired of people as a whole and Kemetics, in minor. I go through phases where I am an extreme introvert, which is usually categorized as my “I hate everyone” or “let’s nuke the planet and start over” phases.

I said it was excessive, didn’t I?

The thing is that this is only part of the whole Hermit-ting the card is getting at. I can look at it in one aspect and see, “ah yes. I’m using too many spoons on that when I need to be conserving them for this.” However, I tend to view my divination practices as more than just simply two-dimensional readings. The card wasn’t just simple about having to pull back my spoons and pulling away from my community for a while. It was more about worrying about me, about my practice, and what that actually happens to be. I’ve become so complacent with my practice that I’m beginning to worry about everyone else and what they are doing and what sort of drama-mongering Tumblr is up to that I’m forgetting I have gods who need/want me, I have lwa that require me, and I have a life to lead.

On a whole, I think this is something that all people, of polytheistic, Kemetic, and-or pagan stock, need to pay attention to. If you send things out on the Internet all the time, what does your practice look like? How often are you online, worrying about what others think about you? How often are you online, calling someone else out on what you perceive to be a slight or injustice? Is your relationship with your gods suffering because you’re so focused on things that have no impact on you? Is your practice suffering because you’re so focused on “teaching a thing” to people who have absolutely no part in your life aside from having seen them in passing online?

I was so focused on what other people were thinking about me and worrying about not saying things that I felt because of how other people would react that I was forgetting the most important thing in my entire practice. I was at the point where I was so focused on coming home from work to see the latest drama on Tumblr or to see who was pissed off at whom on Facebook that I was forgetting about the most important facet in my entire practice. And that most important thing is me. There is no one else here who can pick up my mantle should I fall. There is no one else around who will be able to write the guide I’m planning for Sekhmet. There is no one else here who can do the work Papa Legba has asked of me should I get caught up in outsiders’ drama.

And frankly, what is the point in all the things that I’m doing with my practice if I’m focused on other people?

My practice, as I’ve been harping on lately, is orthopraxic. I don’t have to sit around and debate theology with anyone about anything (although I will, occasionally). My religion has nothing to do with what I’m thinking or what Joe Blow Tumblr is thinking. This practice is about what I’m doing. And if I’m focusing on other people and other things, then all of the shadow work, SVP entries, grave-tending, and devotional acts go down the drain. They all end up failing the ultimate test, which is to create a functional, cohesive practice on a solitary level so that, maybe one day, we can create a functional, cohesive practice on a community level.

As Sekhmet said to my earlier,

Being a hermit isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can be a good thing. It’s not an act of selfishness to lock yourself away from other people. It is an act, as you are already aware, of unconditional love. And sometimes, those acts of love require you to step away from the whole and work on the one. I haven’t been working so hard on you for all these years for you to be of no use to me now.

Kemetic Round Table: Little People.

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

A lot of people get stuck on the dream of becoming a big name pagan (BNP). I think the reason behind this is because they have ideas and those ideas are good ones, and so, those good ideas should make them famous while they enact them. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are actually a good choice of person to look up to or to have been made famous. Since they put on the air of solicitous BNP while in public, we just can’t know what that person’s daily devotions and personal practice is like. Just because they were able to publish a book doesn’t necessarily mean they really are what’s good for the community; they’re just the loudest. The thing is that we get so focused on what the big names are doing that we forget that every Kemetic is just as important in the grand scheme of things. Just because someone has a name that you’ve heard thrown around the forums a few times doesn’t necessarily mean that they are living in ma’at and effecting a lifestyle of living that way.

I think pagans, and Kemetics in our little sliver of it, get caught up in the glitter and polish of BNPs. Maybe it’s the fact that, individually, we all have fandoms that we obsess over. And we bring that to the table of our Kemetic practices. So, in a way, we bring our obsessive fandom qualities to our religion and we obsess over the people who spout out the things we think and feel. Thing is, as I said, we don’t know what their practices are really like. None of us have a bird’s-eye view of how they practice. We can only see glimpses of those practices in blog posts and in the books that they publish or discussions at the ‘cons that they go to. We can only guess if they really are as they portray themselves to be or if they are big, fat liars. Besides, just because they were able to publish words that make you go, “hey, this is what my religion is about,” doesn’t make them an expert. It just makes them more qualified at writing things down and more qualified to talk at those ‘cons.

The thing is that we’re forgetting that the whole population of our religion is important. We forget that it’s not just about the people who have their names on books and have the most followers on Tumblr. This religion is about all of us – it is a communal affair. While community is an issue, in an of itself, for numerous reasons I’ve already complained about, the one thing we can all do to make sure things are going smoothly is to say, “fuck that noise,” and stop quasi-worshiping those who have spoken the loudest. We can look up to them. We can ask them for advice. But, in the grand scheme of things, they are as important in this religion as everyone else, perhaps less so because they are louder. This isn’t just a religion of people who are de facto pharaoh and the priesthood, but it is also a religion about the people. And we – the little people – are those people.

In a way, perhaps, we are even more important than the priesthood and the pharaohs because, it is through us and our actions that things begin to solidify to form a cohesive practice. It is through us that people are made aware that this religion is alive again. It is through us and our questions, our comments, and our thoughts that the gods are remembered, the gods are seen again. And while the priesthood and the pharaoh were all the rage back in the day, things had changed to include the little people and their practices into the fold. Their belief, their actions, their devotions had become part of the practice and so, too, our devotions become part of the revivivalist and reconstructionist movements. And in same vein, you can possibly begin to see that while the big people and their huge acts may be what keeps the sun from falling out of the sky and may prevent the Nun from destroying creation, it is through us that things are finally getting done.

The one thing we need to constantly remind ourselves about in this practice, to remind people that its the little people as well as the big people that are important, is that it is the act of doing and not thinking the keeps this religion alive. It’s nice and wonderful to have philosophical discussions on texts we find regarding our gods. It is nice and wonderful to randomly plan possible future events in which a bunch of Kemetics get together to stomp some mud in a devotional act. It is wonderful and beautiful to be able to bond with people, usually over the Internet, who have similar desires and beliefs as you, as well as to be able to get a perspective that may be a little different. All of these things are lovely and nice, but they go against the point in the religion.

Our religion is an orthopraxy, which means we need to have correct action. Or as I’ve said above, and I’ve said elsewhere, we need to stop thinking about and we need to actually do it. We need to step away from the computer screen, step away from the meet ups, step away from the blogs, step away from the BNP books, and step away from one another to create a practice. And in so doing, instead of constantly debating and thinking and wondering, it means you are actually going to have to get up and do. It means that you’re going to have to actively worship your ancestors. It means you are going to have to actively worship your gods. It means you are going to have to pray, cry, rage, and laugh with you gods. It means you are going to execrate. It means you are going to get off of your ass for five minutes and toss a pre-made bread into the oven as a devotional act or that you are going to go outside, lay on the ground, and think about Geb and Tefnut for a while. Whatever it is to you to get out and do, then that is what this religion is all about.

And that’s something that the BNPs don’t necessarily tell. That’s something that those of us who have been at this for a while may discuss amongst ourselves, but we may not tell the new people about. And that’s something we need to stop. This isn’t a stand back and see what happens kind of religion while you profess beliefs on the Internet. This is a get up, go out, and go do some fucking devotional work for fifteen minutes to all day kind of a religion. And it’s in that: the telling of the neophytes as well as our just doing that can make this whole thing a lot easier. It would leave out the need for those people who talk the loudest and it would make this religion about the people, about us. And really, if that’s not the point to having a religion, then what is?

Calming manatee is a messenger from the gods. Source.

Calming manatee is a messenger from the gods. Source.

If you need suggestions, I’m here. I’ll give you some. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m here. I’ll tell you. If you’re worried you’re going to do it wrong, stop it. We could all be doing something wrong and does it matter? The point of this religion is the acts themselves and the belief that goes into those acts – the belief that you are maintaining ma’at, using appropriate heka, and just doing something – that is the most important aspect here. The doubt and worry can come out later and you know what? I’ll be here with my Tumblr fanmail open or my asks open or you can E-mail me or send me a comment. And I’ll tell you what calming manatee will want you to know and we can laugh about it later.

Kemetism is Orthopraxic: Live in Ma’at II.

Since my last post on this subject, I’ve been thinking extensively about how I wanted to continue it. I always knew, no matter the responses I received on that last installment, that I would get back to it. The thing about theological discussion is that as much as we may want to philosophize about it as often as possible, most of us have a life. And since that post went live the day before I started my new job, I haven’t really been able to put on my philosopher’s hat and get back to it. And I will be completely honest, considering the varied responses because of my last post, I’ve wondered if I should even bother with it. It seemed like no one but a select few really understood what I was getting at when I posted last time, so why bother moving forward with it? Giving up, however, is probably not living in ma’at though.

As a quick recap, I left off wondering what in the world ma’at actually is.

I think a part of that is because I am constantly questioning this main, huge, big, important concept to my religion: What is living in ma’at and how can I do that?

I forget about this concept all the time. I said it above; I’ll say it again. I forget about living in ma’at all the fucking time. There are days when I’m not nice. There are days when I’m too involved in my own shit to stop what I’m doing and help others out. There are days where I’m so busy running from the second I’m up that I forget about this whole integral part of my religious practice.

I don’t know what this thing is, honestly. I don’t really know.

But I know that my gods need it.

They need it and I need it.

I just have to figure out what “it” is.

I left off with the knowledge that it really is something but what that something is, I couldn’t have said. I’ve taken the last three months to ponder this. Over the months, as I sat back and let everything process in my subconscious, I’ve been slowly but surely trying to figure out what all this stuff is, what it means, and how I can definitely add it as part and parcel into my life. Without their knowing it, my Kemetic community has been helping me – first with their helpful comments on my blog entry and secondly, by just being themselves – so that I’ve been able to come to terms with why I have issues, specifically, with the shopping cart theology and what I actually think ma’at, and therefore living in it, may just entail.

Let’s revisit the SCT, linked above. In my last post, definitively all I could say was that it didn’t feel like this theology worked for me any longer. In one of the numerous responses to my last entry, I was told to “re-read the essay.” I’ll admit that I have a few times since then as well as re-reading it to just prior to writing the entry. I was almost hoping that, magically, by re-reading the words that had been written I could either define myself in the version of ma’at Kiya was espousing or, perhaps, at least figure out where I was having troubles with it. If I could diagnose the issue, I could fix it by either deciding I was full of it when I said it didn’t work for me or comprise a personal theological discourse to counteract the shopping cart essay. And by counteract, I mean, you know find something that worked for me that I could try to explain to others in case they needed something else, too.

I think I’ve figured it out.

When writing that last post I said, “The thing is that I tend to view this theology on its face as ‘orderly.’ And I don’t necessarily equate ma’at with ‘orderly.’ It reminds me, in a manner of speaking, of those movies where humans line up like the mindless little automatons we can be and do as we are bid.” I wasn’t quite satisfied with that explanation back then and I’m less so now. The thing is that I still believe it equates to “orderly.” I still honestly think that the SCT is all about order and less about balance. And as time has gone by, I’ve come to realize that my version of ma’at is simply that… it is balance. And for whatever reason, I don’t see the theological essay as balance, but as order. And while they go hand-in-hand, according to definitions and all of that, they’re not quite the same to me.

While thinking about revisiting this topic, I went back through the responses on my entry. I took careful note of Devo’s response. Out of everyone in my Kemetic group, I think our definitions of ma’at mirror each other very well. She can pull from Shinto and explain it in ways that my work in the world of voodoo doesn’t quite afford me. I’m left guessing and floundering while she can at least appear to got her act together on this. But, when I was re-reading all those responses the last few days what particular struck me was, “It really is a matter of how you look at it. Ma’at is balance. That’s the easiest way to say it. Because it’s different for each of us- we can’t get too definite in our answers. We can’t pin down our definition to something that is too narrow- or we lose the point, the beauty that is ma’at- that its diverse.” Ah, yes… that’s what I’ve been aiming for and all I really had to do with steal Devo’s brain and borrow it for a while.

Part of the reason, I think, I have such a difficult time with “order” over “balance” is because of the perceived notions, from an American perspective, that I associate with that particular word. Order to me tends to be seen in terms of black and white, guilty or innocent, light or dark. It also means putting things away in their designated spaces, but those designated spaces are, again, seen as either this or that and never in between. Balance, to me, doesn’t quite hold the same association.

In some perspectives, I can definitely see it as having the same connotation as order does for me. I have no delusions here; someone will see that paragraph and tell me that I’m wrong because balance means those things. But not necessarily. As Devo went on to say in that prolific comment, “I would also say that ma’at is big picture. We forget that sometimes. The big picture. We’re so caught up in the OMG RIGHT NOW SUCKS that we ignore what great things can come in the future from acts that are being done right now. As I’ve said a lot recently- sometimes NTR throw you under a bus. Usually, its because it supports a bigger picture. It sucks, but it’s part of ma’at. It’s part of maintaining the whole.”

Ah… shades of gray.

And that has always been my major issue with ma’at and the concept of living in it. I tend to view ma’at as shades of gray as opposed to anything concretely this or that. Sutekh is considered a god of chaos, and yet, he also protects Re’s solar barque on its voyage through the Duat. Sekhmet is a blood-thirsty warrior goddess who once tried to destroy humanity, however she is also the protector of the pharaoh, an upholder of ma’at. In terms of black and white, we would say that Sekhmet and Sutekh are “bad deities,” but they’re not. They provide other helpful bases that we as a people who were not raised with this same fluid morality have difficulty grasping.

Let’s take a look at execration rituals for a minute.

In ancient Egypt, there really wasn’t much an individual [poor] person could do in order to maintain ma’at. It was not their roll in life to be a part of large rituals that would keep the world from falling apart at the hands of isfet and its agent, Apep. However, they had, at their disposal, execration rites to protect them from their enemies, either perceived or real, human or demonic. In some ways, we may view these types of rituals as a kind of curse against someone or something that may be trying to cause pain and harm to a specific individual. In that regard, some people who see things in black and white would determine that these rituals were “bad.” They are, in effect, asking for harm to come to another human being so, from that supposition, we assume that these were “negative” rituals. But point of fact, and the evidence indicates, that these rituals were not seen that way. They were another form of maintaining ma’at on a level with people who had no stakes to play in the cosmic game, but had stakes to play in the living game.

Shades of gray, indeed.

Right now, I can definitely attest that after three months of pondering, back tracking, pondering, giving up and just generally trying to put all the puzzle pieces together, I can clearly say I know what I think ma’at actually is. If someone else asks, I can say, clearly, that I think of it as balance although the type of balance that I may associate with it may not be the same as others willing to openly and congenially discuss it with me. And that’s okay, too. Maybe the open discussion of what it is and what it isn’t to other people is part and parcel to living in ma’at, too. As Devo said, we can’t clearly define it too much because then we’ll lose the point and the beauty that is ma’at.

Or, as Cher Horowitz says in the iconic movie, Clueless,

Cher: No, she’s a full-on Monet.
Tai: What’s a Monet?
Cher: It’s like a painting, see? From far away, it’s okay, but up close, it’s a big old mess.

Kemetism is Orthopraxic: Live in Ma’at.

I noticed, a while back, that each of us who work with gods tend to become a quasi-expert in that particular deity. Now, I’m thinking specifically in a Kemetic framework here, but I suppose it could be true across the polytheistic board. I know I tend to recommend various friends of mine for different deities: Bezen for jackals; Devo for Sutekh, Wesir, and occasionally Aset; Helms for specific items and lesser know deities; Sard for Sutekh, Khnum, Montu, and netjeri. I suppose I am considered the go-to girl for Sekhmet and occasionally Het-heru. I have networked a bit on Tumblr, so I can direct people to others who work with Djehuti, Seshat, and that ilk. We’re all experts… on the gods.

The thing is that while we are learning all we can, how many of us are forgetting what Kemetism is all about?

I know I am. I forget all the time.

I also know that I am not alone in this. Sometimes, it is difficult to keep in your mind that the religion you are carving out isn’t just about the gods, what to offer, and how to continue to earn their favor. It isn’t just about forging relationships on a level that is inherently personal to each of us. I have a hard time, especially lately, in remembering that my path has concepts that are integral to its very formation all of those millennia ago. I know that I’m not the only person around in the Kemetic hemisphere to have these issues, though. I know that I cannot possibly be the only person in the entire Kemetic arena of the polytheistic stage that has to stop and remind myself, on occasion, that the foremost of concepts in all of this are two-fold: live in ma’at and community.

Now, I will admit that this is my own view on the subject matter. Anyone else who reads this entry, of which I’m hoping there are a few, can speak up and tell me what you-all believe the inherent concepts of the religion are. And I will accept those concepts as much as I can. But to me, the two major and foremost things that we need to keep in mind is to live in ma’at first, followed by community. To me, you cannot have one without the other; you must live in ma’at to formulate a coherent and viable community. The thing is that this post really isn’t about community. I’m sure I’ll be jumping back into that topic at a later date in time. Right now, let’s talk about how we live in ma’at, how we offer ma’at, and what the fuck we’re doing here.

As a Kemetic, when you start to think about living in ma’at, it can get kind of insane for a while. It’s a concept that really has absolutely no place in the English language. I really cannot convey how difficult this concept can be just in the premise of a language barrier. Whenever you read a book and that concept comes up, each definition or translation is different from each other. I have seen it translated as “truth,” “harmony,” “justice,” “cosmic harmony,” and a thousand other things. This is something I’ve discussed before – taking words from other languages and trying to fit them into a square hole, but the peg is a circle. You can’t cram it in there because it just won’t fit properly. But these are words that existed in these languages, both ancient and newer, for a reason. These concepts are things that we used to hold very dear to ourselves – ma’at in ancient Egypt, mir in Russian, ilunga in southwest Congo, schadenfreude in German, and kalpa in Sanskrit. We have close approximations to words like these, but more often than not there is no clear-cut translation that can make these words and concepts connect easily in our English minds.

I think this may be a major barrier to actually beginning to live a Kemetic lifestyle, to actually become a part of the whole experience and use your religion.

One of the arguments you see in some forums is the difference between orthopraxic and orthodoxic. The latter is the use of correct belief and rituals in a religious sense, while the former is correct action or activity, specifically in conduct. Kemetism is an orthopraxy just by its very foundation. This is made abundantly clear when you begin to start working on living in ma’at. It isn’t what you believe that makes the path here. It isn’t whether you have faith or whether you don’t. It is a matter of what you do in that faith that matters. And that is never more clear than when you begin to study and begin to try to live in ma’at in Kemetism.

Each person has a different take on what exactly living in ma’at can convey, which can also cause issues for those of us who want to live in ma’at. In some circles, this means taking the Papyrus of Ani and molding the 42 Negative Confessions there into a type of law system. While law happened in ancient Egypt, it didn’t matter what you wrote in your negative confessions. These were items that you were confessing to the gods that you very assuredly did not do, which would prove that your heart didn’t weigh more than the feather it was being weighed against. However, the 42 Confessions are horrifically out of date, if you ask me. How often do we have to admit that we never stole offerings from the temples or killed the cows of the gods’ temples? So, by turning these into laws of a sort, we’re missing the point.

The first point being is that, while some of these are universal, not all of them are.

And the second point being is that living in ma’at is as mercurial as human nature.

Some people think that living in ma’at means that we should put the shopping carts away. This isn’t so bad of a concept either. It means everything is orderly. It means that everyone does their part to make everything work out in that orderly concept. The problem is that not everyone puts their carts away, do they? They leave them in the middle of parking spaces, which then aggravates anyone trying to get a light grocery shopping done with no parking spaces left. People leave their carts up on the islands separating sections of the parking lot. Some people bring them back to the store front doors, crowding up space but making it easier to grab one when you go in.

I used to think about this particular theology and put it into practice. I do, in fact, put the grocery cart away when I am done using it. It is because of this theological essay that I started doing this with more intent, with more awareness, than I normally would. I’ve been bad – I’ve left the cart beside the parking space or I’ve failed to return it into its little slot. Sometimes, I’ve ever just left it in the middle of another parking place. But for the most part, I do still put the shopping carts away. The thing is that I tend to view this theology on its face as “orderly.” And I don’t necessarily equate ma’at with “orderly.” It reminds me, in a manner of speaking, of those movies where humans line up like the mindless little automatons we can be and do as we are bid.

I don’t feel that ma’at wants us to be little mindless automatons.

As I said above, living in ma’at is as mercurial as human nature.

So, what exactly is living in ma’at? How are people supposed to do this thing that we don’t even really fully comprehend because translations are incomplete or impossible? How are Kemetics supposed to put this orthopraxy into practice and you know, do instead of think and believe?

I get stuck at this part every time.

I think sometimes people tend to view me in this way that I’m not really. They tend to see my blog and see how vocal I am about it all. I think, sometimes, people equate this in a way with someone who has “got their shit together.” I can be completely honest here since it is my blog and no one is probably going to read this: I do not have my shit together. I don’t know what I’m doing more often than not. I have motions that I go through – I give the offerings, I do the execrations, I say the words. But there are days where I break down in front of my shrine because I am feeling so horrific about everything. There are days where the motions are as bare-boned as that word makes it sound. I putter around with my cool water and don’t bother with the bread or the incense or the candles. I am not together. More often than not, I don’t know what the hell I am doing.

I think a part of that is because I am constantly questioning this main, huge, big, important concept to my religion: What is living in ma’at and how can I do that?

I forget about this concept all the time. I said it above; I’ll say it again. I forget about living in ma’at all the fucking time. There are days when I’m not nice. There are days when I’m too involved in my own shit to stop what I’m doing and help others out. There are days where I’m so busy running from the second I’m up that I forget about this whole integral part of my religious practice.

I don’t know what this thing is, honestly. I don’t really know.

But I know that my gods need it.

They need it and I need it.

I just have to figure out what “it” is.