Feast of Sekhmet.

September 29, 2013.

Part of the reason why I have my Google calendar set up to ping me a thousand times regarding when I can expect a holiday coming up is because I will always forget about it until the day before the holiday. This has happened to me with every holiday that has come about since I started keeping track of this whole thing and I’m no longer overly shocked, per se, at an upcoming holiday. I’m thrown into a tizzy because I’m never prepared for such a thing and I end up wondering what new thing I can pull out of my butt. As I’ve said about a hundred times – and will probably continue to mention – I really do like the idea of being shocked by a holiday. It, to me, makes things much less fancy and much more real. If you sit about planning something for months on end before it happens, then you may lose the overall focus of the holiday in question.

And that’s just bad news bears, to me.

Something that happens when these notifications come up is that my life ends up cracking around the edges and yet, I have to prepare something devotion like for the netjer the feast day is regarding. My normal fare for a holiday such as this is that I would end up cleaning my home, spend some devotional time on or with the netjer, and cooking a [really poor person’s but meaningful] feast. Whether or not I am successful in any of these items is a hot topic of an [inner monologue] debate, but I do at least try. Considering how things have been going in my mundane life, however, I knew that I just could not provide Sekhmet with any of that. I could try all I wanted, but I knew I would end up failing.

Things have been incredibly difficult lately. And by difficult, I mean that I occasionally and very seriously entertain the notion that I must have been cursed around the time of my divorce because holy shit has stuff been difficult since TH and I got together. In the last seven years, we have only ever had to fight to remain together. We have only ever had to struggle. We have only ever been hit with one crippling financial crisis after another. We have only ever been thrown around in an angst-ridden sea that has been merciless in everything.

I’ve had to forego paying rent in a timely fashion so that I could have money left over from my last paycheck to keep us fed this month. I have had to replace a tire that was shredding [without me knowing]. I found out that the transmission in TH’s car was beginning to slip. So, instead of spending solitude in devotion to my goddess, I ended up spending most of my day on the verge of tears. I had an intense yearning to say, “I’m sorry, TH. I’ve ruined your life.” And then, I would spend a thousand moments irrationally angry with how very “unfair” everything has been.

It’s almost like with each step forward I make on the path – with my religion and with fixing my traumas and the like – that I end up having to fight that much harder in the mundane world. I don’t really know if anyone else has noticed this, but it feels like with each forward motion spiritually, I’m getting thrown back in the mundane world. It feels to me, almost, as though you can’t really have the best of both worlds. You can either be an asshole fucktard who is a dick all the time or you can practice the “not be a dick” strategy and end up shit on from every possible quarter. Maybe I’m just making this shit up as I go along, but all I know is that I feel like this is the case.

I could be wrong.

I could be right.

In the meantime, I end up feeling like everything is being shit on purpose.

I really try hard not to go on about how things “aren’t fair.” Since my discussion on the topic of what “fair” is supposed to be versus what I think it is with Papa Legba, I’ve tried to break myself of the habit. Whenever humans, usually, discuss what is “not fair,” they are usually doing it in comparison to people they know nothing about. The people are presenting this easy picture of achieving whatever it is that I may be jealous of. Whether or not things were really easy isn’t up to me to decide. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I don’t live their lives. But sometimes, it’s really hard to be an adult and admit this in a logical manner. Yesterday was one of those days where it was nearly impossible to admit this shit in a logical manner. All I could do was sit around my messy apartment and thinking, this just isn’t very fair.

One of the few things that I do when I’m really upset is I end up cleaning. It may not always do what I’m hoping it will do – make me feel better – but it gives me a purpose, at least. It also gives me time to listen to really loud music, sing along to said loud music, and just ignore the reality of the world. I know that the reason I do this is because I have no control in my life, so I have to enforce control wherever I can enact it. Case in point, the place I can enact it is on my messy apartment. (Hey, I work all week and I have a five-year-old. You try to keep shit clean.) So, in an effort to at least stop thinking about how things aren’t very fair, I cleaned like a fiend.

I don’t know if “successful” is really the word I would use on what ended up happening. Oh, my apartment got cleaned and I was able to get everything dusted. In the grand scheme of things, in that instance, I was successful. But I couldn’t really stop myself from thinking about what is or is not fair. I couldn’t get the thoughts, I’m tired of the struggle. I’m tired of this. I’ve heard phrases like this from me before and from others. I’m fully aware of what it is about: I’m just sick of constantly having to fight for everything I have and feeling like no matter what choice I make, I will always end up fucked over in the end. I’m not sure if any of this was a really fitting feast for Sekhmet, but even though I may want to do something pretty big and expansive, life gets in the way whether I want it to or not.

I ended up feeling like it was time to get this all out.

I pulled out a red piece of construction paper, pulled out the pen I keep next to Djehuty, and I just began to write.

Sometimes, writing is incredibly cathartic and later, I find myself surprised by what has come out. It’s not always easy for me to put a pen to paper and go to town, but it was yesterday. I was able to clearly describe every aspect of my emotional state in a single sheet of paper. I watched as my emotions came out in word form with almost a detached interest in what I was seeing. While I wrote what I needed to get out, I listened to My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up) by Fall Out Boy. While I can’t tell if the song really was a big help for what I was hoping to accomplish, it wasn’t a horrible soundtrack. In fact, with each beat, I ended up feeling more and more confident with the bits that needed to come out and felt less like I needed to sit back and make sure I was saying things correctly.

If nothing else, the song was pretty fucking appropriate for the goddess in question.

May she be well fed upon the entrails of my insecurities.

May she be well fed upon the entrails of my insecurities.

I had always just assumed that when it came to feast days, it would be a home cooked meal. But I knew that I needed and wanted to do something completely unexpected and different this time around. So, with that gut instinct, I ended up with a feast for my lady – I gave her a feast with my execration. I took her statue outside with me, along with my cauldron. I did the usual execration items: spitting, kicking, stabbing, punching, and stomping. I also anointed the paper with some special oils I won from TPR blog a while back. And then, I did what any self-respecting Kemetic and devotee of Sekhmet would do – I burned all the things.

This particular feast day was not what I was expecting. I always expect a tad of the usual. I never really think things are ever going to be weird or different or difficult. However, sometimes the status quo means that we have to look outside the box for devotional items to add to our feast days. I’d like to think that, if nothing else, I definitely succeeded in the fact that I thought outside of the box. But I think I did more than all of that. I think I also proved, more to myself, that sometimes, it’s the shitty goings on in our life that we can offer up on a plate (or in this case, burning in a cauldron) and the gods can feast upon that as well. In particular, with Sekhmet being a deity who upholds ma’at, by offering up my execration, an action that I am performing to attempt to bring my life back in line with [my definition of] ma’at, it stands to reason that I would offer up such a thing to her.

May she be well fed upon the entrails of my insecurities.

And me? I’ll go on with my life and I’ll continue to plod through the treacherous waters I’ve been floating on, waiting for the day when either I realize what all is going on or I end up overcoming it.

My vote is to overcome.

Feast of Sekhmet, Observed.

One of the things that I’ve been slowly working on is my Kemetic calendar. I don’t mention it often because, let’s face it, working on something mundane like that isn’t very glamorous. And you know, it really is very slow going. It’s mostly a slow process because my brain can implode with the amount of information I have to keep to the forefront at any given time while working through all of this. Combine that was even a basic mathematical skill set and you have one cranky Satsekhem. (I usually work on said calendar only fully caffeinated, once or twice a month.) So, it’s slow going but also, I don’t want to overstimulate myself either. There are hundreds of festivals to choose from! How in the world can I decide which ones I should add and which ones I shouldn’t? Never mind the actual ability to find information about the festivals, in a generalized sense. So, as I said, the whole process is taking me a good long time.

I’d like to say that I’m doing this because I want to be altruistic and more in line with my religion, but I have to be honest here. A large part of this calendar project is based more on the personal, more on the selfish. I’m a very lazy polytheist. I read a lot of blogs and there’s lots of talk in those blogs about rituals held, festivals celebrated, and all of that jazz. While it’s pretty insane admitting this, I’m going to say that my calendar project is more for the benefit of getting me into “the swing of things.” I want to be able to hold rituals and celebrate festivals. I’d like to, also, be considered more than a Major Holiday practitioner (as mentioned in the third related post linked to below). I’m not saying that I’m going to run around and go insane, celebrating every major holiday that comes my way. As I mentioned earlier, there are literally hundreds of festivals a person can celebrate in a Kemetic capacity and that’s not including any and all of the voodoo holidays I’m going to be adding to my calendar in some form or another in the future. What I am saying is that in so doing this project, I’m hoping that I can become more fluent in my religion, I can become better acquainted with my gods, and I can have a better understanding of what it is I’m looking for with all of this.

What? After three years I’m still searching?

Right-o, folks. That’s one of those little secrets they don’t tell you when you jump on the pagan train: you’re always looking. Just because you receive and embody and understand the response to one aspect, doesn’t mean you aren’t going to have to go looking for the next set of answers to something related or entirely different. (I don’t mean to be overly cryptic here, but I honestly don’t know how to explain this properly. I’ll get to it at some point.) I’m hoping that with all the work into this calendar, I’ll be better off in the long run. And you know, maybe I’ll be able to teach better material to the masses that are asking about it.

So, part of the reason I’m talking about this is because a feast day for Sekhmet happened yesterday. The week before, a feast day for Heka had appeared on my calendar. I wanted to celebrate that, but I was at a loss of what, specifically, I should do for that. However, when it comes to feasts for my Main Lady, I’m less likely to waffle and prevaricate. I know what she wants, I know how to celebrate her, and I know exactly what I want to do for things. On top of this, according to my newly minted calendar, yesterday was also the first day of the third month of Akhet, known as Hwt-Hrw in the Middle Kingdom and known as Athyr in Latinate. While I doubt an actual celebrate was held for the first day of a month (does that happen in the now?), I decided I wanted to at least honor that in some aspect or another. I got to brain-storming and I got to cooking.

Candles lit, feast begins.

In my attempt to honor the fact that we had finally entered the third month of Akhet, I decided that I would light candles and offer water. I tend to offer water, anyway, since it’s the cheapest and quickest offering I can spare on a tight budget. The water offering was representative of this particular season, more than the month itself. This season is, rendered in English, known as the Inundation. This is the time in ancient Egypt when the Nile would swell its banks and bring the life-giving black silt necessary to begin the agriculture necessary for survival. The water in the cups, therefore, represents the Nile itself. I was also interested in offering black silt or black dirt, but unfortunately, it chose to rain all day. I decided that at the beginning of the next month, if the weather is decent enough, I’ll do my best to dig up some dirt as offering.

My honoring of this particular aspect of my calendar, too, is also an act of symbolism that marks back to the Zep Tepi, or in English-speak, the First Time. I won’t get into specifics about this since I am saving my discussion on Zep Tepi for the Pagan Blog Project, but in so lighting my candles and offering incense, it is as an act of bringing my gods (in their statues) back to the First Time. Someone, once, made this correlation for me in much more eloquent words, though I cannot find them at the moment to share. What I can say is that it has always stuck with me and so, while I light the candles and light the incense (unless it is for a specific purpose), I do try to think of it as a moment of honoring the First Time, when all the gods ruled on this planet.

So, those were the actions and symbols I used to honor yesterday being the first of a new month.

Hetharu on the left, Sekhmet on the right. And Sutekh gets in the middle of things.

With this being a Feast Day for Sekhmet, I knew I was going to be making her a dinner she would appreciate. However, I also knew that this being the month of Hwt-Hrw that she deserved something all her own. As a goddess in my life, I tend to view her as more of a household icon or deity than as someone who I willingly work with. At some future point, perhaps after my shadow work with Hekate comes to an end, she will move to a more prominent role in my life. In the mean time, she is here as a sort of reminder that all I do as a mother and as a woman or any mix thereof is in honor of her. While Aset is more likened to the ultimate mother deity in the Kemetic pantheon, I don’t tend to see her this way. This, possibly, is in large course due to my associations with Sekhmet, but I couldn’t possibly say one way or another. All I do know is that when it comes to baking and/or home cooking, I try to honor Hetharu in some form or another.

So, I baked chocolate chip cookies. As she was given the first cooled snickerdoodles from a few weeks back, so was she given the first chocolate chip cookie (that didn’t enter my mouth or get tasted by TH). This symbolism is, as I said, a reminder that all of the things I do for this house and in this house are merely aspects of her.

In the making of those cookies, towards the end, I started making them larger and larger. This was mostly because I was standing for about two hours straight, making those cookies. So, by the end, I just wanted to sit the fuck down. In the making of the cookies, as they got larger, one came out looking very much like a, well, fat dick. As a quasi-joke, Devo, Helms, Sard and various other Kemetics tend to remark that Kemetic faiths have a proliferation of dick and boob imagery. Quite often, you’ll see dick representations in or around various god images. When I saw the dick, I immediately thought of both Devo and Sard’s relationships with Sutekh and the dick jokes that have arisen from those relationships. So, while I could have given the cookie to Min, Atum, Amun, Ptah, or Re (as all creator deities), it seemed more appropriate to give it to Sutekh. Well, that, and he’s been peeping at me lately. While that’s a story for a different time, I will mention that I’m pretty sure he was pleased with my accidental dick cookie.

To honor Sekhmet, I went with an oldy and a goody, which was steak for dinner. I’ve read in various places that giving her raw meat can go either way. And while I understand that as a lioness she would probably prefer raw, I can’t leave raw anything out in this house. So, she was given the first piece of the lovingly marinated and broiled steak I made for dinner. I also gave her a small helping of potatoes because you can’t just eat steak without a side helping of something. The reason for this is that I tend to think of potatoes as a staple food and it correlates, in my own UPG, as a form of bread. I don’t bake bread often, but bread was a staple in the diet of the ancient Egyptians. That being said, we can assume that it was a pretty normal offering to the gods way back when. With changing times, so too have the staples. And while I still give bread as an offering periodically, I also like to use symbolism in my offerings. Potatoes were a staple diet of my childhood and so, it was given in that spirit.

All in all, I feel pretty pleased with my first major holiday celebration after Wp-Rnpt. There was nothing too fancy and there was nothing too dull. I feel like I did a lot of good and I connected more ably with my gods than I have in a while. And that feeling is the feeling that I want to continue and have proliferate as I continue my journey into crafting my own religion.

Related Posts

  1. Personal Calendars Part 2 by Dee.
  2. Wish Upon a Star by Devo.
  3. O is For Ordinary by LfG.
  4. Beautiful Reunion by Helms.