Feast of the Soaring Falcon 2015.

November 2, 2015 – November 17, 2015

I’m beginning to believe that when it comes to holidays that I add into my calendar that I will always be left wondering what the point is.

When I was informed that the Feast of the Soaring Falcon was occurring, a 15-day festival, I immediately took to Google. Aside from the KO prayer book stating that the holiday was a thing and something mentioned in a book by Normandi Ellis, I came up with absolutely nothing on what this festival was about. I pulled out the 2 books that I have about Edfu, hoping to find something of import there, but again came away with nothing.

All I knew was that for fifteen days, the ancient Egyptians celebrated a soaring falcon.

It seems like more and more, especially with regard to holidays about Horus, I’m left guessing. I have to sit in reflection more than I have in the past regarding any holidays that I celebrate for Hetheru or Sekhmet, trying to determine what could possibly be occurring and why.

As with the 3-day Festival of the Winged Disk, I came away feeling as if it was all a grand mystery… and I had no clues to investigate properly.

I spent much of the first week just kind of sitting around, contemplating the icon of Horus in the off moments. I could see gold and sparkles; I could see banquets of food just laid out to be picked over; I could see incense and maybe even hymns of some sort being sung. But it was all an imaginary world of my own choosing. None of it was based on what may have happened in antiquity. I was only guessing.

I will be honest and admit that I mostly didn’t care. Things have been hard lately. The time off that I decided to take after I posted my Boundaries post is important and necessary; I need to work through a lot of things related to my personal life as well as my religious life. Throughout all of this, I have been waging a daily war, it seems like, against my anxiety and depression. There are some days where I don’t feel as though I have won the battle. Other days, I feel like I have.

Falcon

The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim. – Sun Tzu

Every day, I pull up my silly little Tarot app and see what card it chooses for me to represent that day. I like the app. It’s an easy way to access divination tools without having to pull out a deck to shuffle. I guess that might paint me as a lazy diviner, but whatever. The apps that I have downloaded are easy, simple, and usually pretty damn accurate.

For weeks and weeks, I’ve been getting the same old cards. I get it – I get that things need to change. I get that I’m at the edge of a precipice and if I don’t stop, then things are going to wind up looking more like the Devil card or even the Tower. These are two cards that frighten me, worry me, set off my anxiety a bit. I don’t like those cards at all, but the recent spate of Swords with an occasional smattering of less painful cards has put me on edge.

I keep looking over my shoulder, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

About halfway through this particular holiday, after I had settled myself in with a nice cup of coffee and finished my French lesson of the day, I pulled up my little Tarot app and looked at my daily card. I was expecting something a little more frightening, a little more worrisome than the 5 of Cups. It was almost with a sigh of relief that I read the little advice above the divination interpretation the app provides:

If you’re feeling sad or down today, honor those feelings. Don’t try to push them away. Whatever loss or disappointment you’ve experienced lately deserves to be felt. When you take the time to really feel your feelings, you can process them, learn from them, and then move forward, with greater self-awareness and wisdom.

5 of Cups

This is a card of loss, of grief, of disappointments.

The same day that I pulled the 5 of Cups, while I was at work, I reached up and fingered the ib pendant that I wear daily around my neck. As I clasped the pendant in my hand, the cord began to slip from around my neck. I pulled it free and saw that the knot I had used to secure one side had come loose… again.

Recently, I had swapped out the frayed black cord the amulet had come with for a red, silken cord. Since the cord is silken, the knots I have tied in to it so that I may tighten and loosen the necklace around my neck come undone randomly. I expected the piece to come loose again since it had been months since the last time. But for some reason, it felt like a blow to the stomach when I pulled the necklace into my hands and studied the side that had come loose.

It felt like a metaphor for everything: my whole life was becoming undone and I just don’t know if I have the strength to figure out how to fix it. I didn’t have time to fix the knot before I had to jump on a conference call and so, I slipped the piece into my pocket until I got home. When I got home, I plunked it down in front of Sekhmet and just stared at the loose side, trying to get up the energy to re-tie the piece together.

But the nagging feeling that this stupid silken cord with the dark spots at the edges from daily use was the perfect representation of me, my life, of the way things had been lately wouldn’t stop. I kept staring at it and finally just left it on the altar. I figured I could get around to tying it at some point, but as I lay the necklace down at Sekhmet’s feet, I couldn’t imagine caring enough to actually getting around to re-tying the knots.

I didn’t know if I ever would care enough to get around to it.

Undone

It was not… that she was unaware of the frayed and ragged edges of life. She would merely iron them out with a firm hand and neatly hem them down. – P.D. James

It was at that moment that I finally realized what this celebration was about at least for this year, at this moment in time.

On that day when I pulled the 5 of Cups, I listened to the advice provided by that card pull. I stopped letting myself keeping moving autonomously forward and instead, sat for the day and allowed the grief and disappointment to fill me. I was like an empty cup – heh – and allowed those feelings to fill me. I let it overflow and then I poured it into the land around me. I let the world soak up the after effects of my disappointment, depression, anxiety, fear, and grief.

The next day, I looked up at the sky and watched as a hawk soared above me. I don’t see them as much right now. It’s November and the prey is harder to find, I guess. But I saw that animal swooping down over the trees and I knew that it had found something juicy to eat, something delectable that would see it through for a while. I watched the hunting predator and I knew that this holiday was less about celebrating Horus and his soaring falcon form and more about me and my attempts to get into soaring falcon form.

The ancient Egyptian representation of a soaring falcon is a symbol of strength and protection. In its feet, the falcon clasps shen rings – protection. The outstretched wings show a beast upon the hunt, finding what it needs in order to survive. I could embody that form, but in order to do so, I needed to work up to it.

You can’t just get onto a bike and instantly know how to ride it; you can’t just put on roller skates and instantly know everything you need to know in order to maintain your balance. It takes work – hard work in some cases – to get up to form.

I have to let these issues roll through me, pass over me, and vomit up the sorrow, pain, anger, depression as I can in order to make it possible to take off. The Litany Against Fear is often used within the original Dune universe. It’s kind of like the last half of the mantra:

I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Only instead of fear, I am working on all of the other types of emotions that bog me down, that suck me into the mire like quicksand.

This holiday wasn’t about the soaring falcon, wasn’t about celebrating Horus and all the joys that he brings me. This holiday was about reminding me that in order to be in tip top shape, I have to sit and just be sometimes. I have to work through my own stuff in order to be the only thing that remains at the end of it all. And in that moment, maybe then I will be the soaring falcon I know I can be.

Festival of the Winged Disk 2015.

November 2, 2015 – November 4, 2015

The Legend of the Winged Disk is one of my favorite myths. I can admit to being biased, though. There are very few myths specific to Heru-Wer that I have been able to find, so it is truly no surprise why I’d like the Winged Disk myth so much.

Copies of this myth were inscribed at the Edfu Temple complex, which was a very old temple rebuilt during the Ptolemaic era. As with many of the Heru myth cycles that we have read, the basis is a Heru, in this case Heru-Wer as the son of Re, goes forth at Re’s request to tear asunder enemies. Heru of Behdet was sent forth as a great winged disk and was able to achieve victory over the enemies. (A full recount can be found here.)

This is where the winged sun disk gets its name: behdeti.

I looked for this holiday in the two Edfu books I have. These are my main resources at the moment in my ongoing search for more information regarding Heru-Wer. Unfortunately, as seems to often be the case with most of the information that relates to the various forms of Heru, the information I have found seems to mostly be glossed over in an effort to jump through to the Osirian myth cycles.

Based entirely on the name for this holiday, I can only assume that we are celebrating the Winged Disk and perhaps its victory over the enemies of Re. I can’t be sure if that is the case, however, as this celebration comes prior to the Festival of Victory which occurs (according to The House of Horus at Edfu by Barbara Watterson) in the second month of winter.

Even though this celebration comes well before the Festival of Victory, I think it’s probably an important celebration in its own right. It is specific to Heru of Behdet whereas Watterson’s discussion regarding the Festival of Victory seems to be more inclined towards all of the various victories that have occurred because of one of the Heru.

I think this is a reminder, a signpost so to speak, that Heru-Wer, in his aspect as Heru of Behdet, was an important warrior in his own right and something that we, as modern polytheists, should celebrate.

IMG_7080

Lintel above the entrance to the Edfu temple.

One of the things that I have often found when I’ve interacted with other people regarding Heru-Wer is that he is very “chill.” I guess relaxed would be the most appropriate word. But something that has always rang true for me was an online friend’s description: that he is a tired vet, enjoying the quiet and solitude after having been there and done that.

The prevailing idea that Heru-Wer is a “chill” deity, while not inaccurate, forgets the fact that he is also a deity who has slaughtered enemies. The link above says it all: he brought forth such a dizzying array against the enemies of Re that they became confused enough to kill one another. In effect, he did his job so splendidly that he was able to get the enemies of Re to do the hard work on his behalf.

While combing through Borghouts not that long ago, I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of mention of a Heru standing behind the hekau while the heka was being conducted. While I can’t say definitively which Heru was referenced, it still kind of stuck with me. It almost seemed to me, as I mentioned to a friend of mine in the last few months, as though the hekau was stating, “I am bad ass and I am so bad ass that I have Heru at my back who will definitely mess up your day if you do not do what I am telling you to do.”

This is unverified of course, but it always kind of made me think of Heru of Behdet, of that solar disk with its wings outstretched, with the dazzling array slammed against the enemies of Re. Maybe it wasn’t really just a Heru standing behind the hekau but all the power and might of the behdeti itself.

Edfu Temple

Edfu Temple

This festival was quiet for me. I haven’t been myself lately. I’ve often felt the need to sit and retire early, a requirement to sleep more and to pay better attention to what my body is telling me. (It’s telling me that I need to slow down even more, honestly.) I wanted to do something big and expansive – after all, Heru-Wer is very important to me as a deity.

But it occurred to me that if this is about the Winged Disk, if this is about its dizzying display, if this is about its victory over the enemies of Re, then I could use that to my advantage. This festival became less about big and expansive; it became more about me. It became a few days in time, a space between the ticking seconds to sit back and breathe, to plan my mode of attack so that I, too, like my deity long ago could unleash a dizzying display and destroy my enemies in a massive display as well.

I guess you could say that I used this time to plot with the intention of one day unleashing that display. I can’t be a good warrior if I don’t know what the end game is supposed to look like and I can’t offer a good display of frightening plumage if I’m too tired to do much more than stare blankly until I fall asleep. Self-care is important – integral – to maintaining the status quo.

I’m taking back the crown
I’m all dressed up and naked
I see what’s mine and take it
(Finders keepers, losers weepers)
Oh yeah
The crown…
So close I can taste it
I see what’s mine and take it
(Finders keepers, losers weepers)
Oh yeah

Emperor’s New Clothes by Panic! at the Disco

I would like to think that Heru-Wer agreed with me on my determination that taking care of myself was important here.

For the first day of the festival, I saw a northern goshawk streak over my car. The shadow it left reminded me of the behdeti. Yesterday, I heard the shriek of a hunting hawk in the distance. And this morning, a rough-legged hawk flew over my car before flying passed my open window.

I’d like to think that he was letting me know that he’s watching over me, providing me with the skills I will need in order to embody the winged sun disk.

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.

Wep Ronpet 2015.

July 30, 2015 – August 2, 2015

When I was reading The House of Horus at Edfu by Barbara Watterson, I discovered that the celebrations for Wep Ronpet went much longer than I had realized. I had always thought that it was a six day long festivity: five days for the birth of the children of Nut and Geb and a single day for the actual new year celebrations. The day after the new year, the populace went back to work and the world was reset and everything was as hunky-dory as it could get.

Evidently, at Edfu, they celebrated WR for 9 days and there was reference to other places that continued the celebrations up to 11 days after the start of the epagomenal days. That kind of made the panic in my chest slow down to a crawl, which was nice. I always have a lot of ideas about what in the world I plan on doing during the celebration of Wep Ronpet, but I never feel as though I have enough time to see it through. The knowledge that these types of celebrations were a few days’ long made it possible for me to see to everything I wanted to see to.

The sun just touched the morning;
The morning, happy thing,
Supposed that he had come to dwell,
And life would be all spring.

– The Sun’s Wooing by Emily Dickinson

Dua RaI have a love-hate relationship with the sun. I’m not a morning person, although I’m not usually cranky after my first cup of coffee has been ingested. Some mornings, I sit and watch as it climbs above the trees outside the window, marveling at the majestic beauty. Other days, I wish it to be covered with gray cloud cover, a hint of rain on the breeze heading in my direction.

The morning of the 30th dawned bright, though, and I didn’t feel like the rejuvenating rays of Re needed to be covered. After I felt awake enough to see it through, I brought all of my icons, excepting Sekhmet of course, over to greet the dawn. I tried to imagine what it must be like to sit and feel the sun’s rays, feel it renewing me just as much as it must have been renewing my icons. This was something the priests did in antiquity – bringing the sacred icons out to greet the sun. But I have to wonder if, besides all of the pomp and circumstance, did they try to imagine what it was like to be renewed too?

When I went out to see to my dog that morning, I closed my eyes and turned my face to Re. I don’t know if he was inclined to give me a bit of his power, but it felt good. I felt like I could feel it working its way into the pores of my skin, giving me a little added boost for the days, the months, the year to come. Maybe he did give me a little added bonus. As I opened my eyes and turned toward the house, ready to get on with the day, I swear I saw the icon of Djehuty wink at me.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
“Hope” is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson
Last year, I created a sa for my car. I had decided to make it before I got rid of my rusty Oldsmobile so the original intent was because that bucket of bolts was in the middle of its final death cries and I needed it to last a little longer. But just before Wep Ronpet last year, I bought Karen who was in much better shape and didn’t need as much gas to fill her. I decided that just because I had bought a new car didn’t mean I couldn’t make myself a sa. One should always be mindful of the needs we have for keeping ourselves safe.
This year, I decided to create another sa which will go into the significant other’s car. I didn’t really tell him I was doing this until the day before the intercalary days began, “Oh, by the way, I’m making you an amulet of protection for your car because you clearly need it.” He asked me why and I just kind of stared blankly for a minute and said, “Well, it’s as demonstrative as I can be at the moment with my affections. Don’t ask questions. No, you don’t have to hang it from the rear view mirror like I do.”
Kemetic Arts and CraftsWhen I made my sa last year, I had chosen to use red felt (red being a major power color) to create it. I was looking more for durability than anything else. I found it difficult to force the felt into the shape that I wanted, but with slowly lost patience, I managed to get the shape I needed. I swore then I would never, ever do this with felt again but since I needed to retain durability and I knew (or vaguely remembered) how to make my fingers force the thing into the shape I needed, I figured I was okay.
The SO’s sa is a little thinner and a little smaller than the original. I had unmade the original amulet to follow its steps as well as to recreate the symbols I had drawn inside. I annointed each symbol with some crown of success oil. I then rolled them up, cursed quietly under my breath while I tried to get the silky cords to do my bidding with clumsy fingers, and then managed to tie the beasts together. Professor, in his Aspect as Maurice the Netjeri, has been looking over the amulets and helping me to charge them, to keep them filled with their purpose. (Guide to make one yourself.)
YOU cannot put a fire out
A thing that can ignite
Can go, itself, without a fan
Upon the slowest night.
You cannot put a fire out by Emily Dickinson

Over the months, I’ve managed to create a lot of heka for various reasons. Some of it is for myself, but most of it is for friends and family. A lot of the stuff in the pot is months old, waiting for the moment where it can be released and set free. I have a very large, old, and ornate jar that I keep my heka hut works in and every year, I try to burn it all. Last year, I found it difficult to do so because there was so much of it and because it was all folded paper. I decided to write out heka on strips of paper, hoping it would be easier to burn.

I chose to do this at my in laws’ house for a variety of reasons. With there being so much to burn, I’m finding that my little cast iron pot isn’t large enough. I also find it irritating to burn things while the bar across the street is hopping or my neighbors are home. I don’t really feel like answering questions. The in laws have a very private back yard with a burn pit anyway. So, I took the jar and Professor in his Aspect as Maurice the Netjeri on over to get everything settled in and burned.

This may be surprising, but I’m not very good at the fire bug thing. I actually had to have the SO light everything up for me. Once he managed to get it lit in multiple places, the flames took over and I just watched as everything that required destruction was destroyed. I got eaten alive by mosquitoes but it was pleasant just sitting in the heat and humidity of the evening, a slightly cooling breeze coming in off the pond in the back, while everything was burned asunder.

I not only fed the heka hut accumulation into the pot, but I tried to feed it my newly minted depression as well. I received some… not good news after work on Friday. I’ve been job hunting at a particular place, but I can’t start off with a full time position evidently. That’s not how the company works and I began to feel like a listless asshole, stuck in this hell hole that I’ve been working in for two and a half years. I can just see the months of hell stretching in front of me before I break down entirely, destroyed and defeated by this place.

My mental health, or so I’ve been informed, is important. And because I know that I could get into this place easily, I chose to throw all of my hopes into a single basket. Well, unfortunately, my hopes were shattered. I realized while I watched the flames dance in the night that I needed to stop doing that. I also recognized that I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself, but it can be really hard to do that when you’re primed for it.

I didn’t do anything on Saturday. I rarely feel like I can just take a day off and not bother with anything. There’s usually offerings to provide in the morning or cleaning to do in the afternoon/evening. But on top of feeling sorry for myself, I also somehow managed to wrench my knee in a very unpleasant way that I was feeling all the way into my bones Saturday afternoon. So, I chose to spend another day of the WR celebrations sitting around and reading Chapterhouse Dune.

With the final day of my celebrations (I can handle 9 days, but I think 11 is a little overboard personally), I decided to do a large execration against A/pep. I haven’t done one in a while and I was due for one. I had also indicated to Sekhmet before she closeted herself away that I would at least consider it and do something A/pep related while she was away. This is when owning Ancient Egyptian Magical Texts by J.F. Borghouts comes in handy because I didn’t have to figure out what to do on my own or make something up on the fly: I chose to utilize spell 144.

It’s a little weird to use some of the older spells. I’m not talking about the ones that call for crocodile dung or other seemingly weird ingredients. It’s mostly the wording of the spells. I gets the point across, though, and it actually has given me a seemingly better understanding as to what could be considered heka with a purpose, or heka hut shenanigans, versus merely paying attention to what words I’m using when I speak aloud and/or write something down.

But I stumbled and I mumbled. In the end, though, I felt like my representation A/pep was good and destroyed. I flushed the remnants into the abyss that is the public sewage system and reminded the pieces that they were destroyed; they were less than nothing; I had not only survived the battle but won.

I won the battle over this last year.

I know I will succeed and win the battles over the upcoming year.

Just watch 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.

Festival of the Beautiful Reunion: Week Two.

I stop a lot and marvel at my hands.

We use our hands for a lot of things and in the middle of the doing of those things, I will stop and look at them. In the middle of typing an email; in the middle of scrolling through a blog entry; in the middle of changing the channel on the radio; while I’m driving… I will be in the middle of something and look down at them with a sort of wide-eyed wonder at the two of them.

They seem awfully small to rebuild anything.

The nails are chipped and cracked. I paint them only to wait for the days when the polish is mostly damaged because I feel like that time best represents my hands. I wear rings every day and there are cuts around my cuticles. The lines in my palm grow deeper everyday. I have healing cuts on my fingers and on my thumbs. They are busted and probably ugly, but they are mine.

They seem like such pitiful things to be used to recreate a fucking thing.

Consciously, I understand that hands have the power to do many things. People create with them all the time. Am I not creating while I use them to drive me somewhere? Am I not creating while I type this? But it all seems a little more than miraculous that two hands, mine or yours or anyone’s hands really, can build anything.

My two hands are supposed to create the life I am to lead. My hands led me astray, I think, in a few arenas but I’m willing to learn how to build something better out of the ashes. My hands are supposed to create the religious life that I am to follow. My hands led me down a path that I did not see coming, but I am figuring it out as I go. My hands are supposed to create me in the forge of my own soul. They have no idea what the map of a human soul is supposed to look like and I hope that I don’t look too misshapen when I am done.

It amazes me that these two appendages are supposed to do all of these things. How, I ask myself as I marvel down at them.

There is no answer as yet.

Day 713 / 365 - I'm a dreamer. I have to dream and reach for the stars, and if I miss a star then I grab a handful of clouds

The rebuilding of one’s soul starts with the core components of who we are, but what if we do not know who we are? (Image by Jason Rogers.)

The first week of the Reunion was a constant lesson in balance and patience, of which I am pretty sure I have very little. It was like a field trip of sorts that I had semi-invited myself along on but it was okay because I had parental permission before we left. That first week was a stretched out eternity dedicated to the needs to the gods. I remembered how much I didn’t figure into things.

The second week of the Reunion was about how much I did figure into things. It had nothing to do with the gods, dedication or otherwise. It had to do with a reunion of sorts, but mostly of the endless climb into the reaches of the atmosphere as I slowly but surely lose my mind, bit by bit. I felt less like I suffered from exhaustion and more like I was being burned alive.

No one thought to mention that the brick and mortar I had to use to rebuild myself but also to build up to new levels of my personal religious shenanigans had to be crafted by me. I guess this is what I get for not reading the fine print. It occurred to me on the first Thursday of week two that the reunion I had just celebrated was a sort of blue print of sorts, but I had to get all the fixings together in order to recreate the objects I was trying to build back up.

That shit is hard.

I spent much of week two feeling very out of sorts while I shifted around and dithered about things. I made some hard decisions, which later felt wrong and I went back on them. I made some less difficult decisions, which I felt much better about having made them. I sat up and looked around, realized where the pieces were missing and what I had to do in order to vault over the deep chasm of my soul. I don’t have all of the pieces in place – I’m sorry, but building people doesn’t happen in a single day, much less a single week in this house hold – but I have enough to feel at least partially comfortable with the process.

I just wish I had figured there was more to the story than what I was seeing originally.

the night of the shooting stars

A few more pieces to give vague outline; but how does one build up and out when the destruction is wrought on the inside? (Image by Alessandro Villa.)

I came to my senses about a lot of things during that second week, but a lot of it was little things that, upon reflection, don’t seem like a whole lot. I guess you could say that they all add up to a lot but it doesn’t feel like that. It feels more like tiny little crevasses in the skin of my hands, growing deeper and thicker as time passes. They were always there, but time molds and changes them. It’s not noticeable daily, but it is if you stop and look hard enough.

Building a human being out of the soft clay like Khnum does at his potter’s wheel is a difficult process. As TTR pointed out over on Tumblr, Henadology’s entry on Khnum states: “Khnum’s role of fashioner of the bodily form was not completed once and for all before birth, but continued throughout life.” I’ve been thinking about that a lot, especially regarding the last week of the Reunion.

I am not complete, not by any stretch of the imagination. I honestly have to ask myself if I will ever be able to look at the processes that I have begun in an effort to both better myself and to work on past traumas and realize that I’m “done.” I don’t think so. I think I will always need to continue the fashioning, and like Khnum, I will be constantly working towards the goal of uniting the different aspects of myself.

In same vein, I have often assumed that I would get a “functional practice” together that would be something that I could, maybe, pass on to someone one day. I often thought that the overall goal I was aiming for was a tab-A in slot-A approach; very simplistic from a distanced point of view, but the point is really that I was hoping I could easily create and one day go, “Ah, yes, this is ready now to be born anew under someone else’s guidance.”

Well… I don’t think that’s possible either.

Just looking at the years that this blog has existed should have probably made the above obvious, but I can be fairly dense when I want to be.

In both cases, the fashioning of myself and of my practice, I’ve come to conclude that there are changes on the turnpike ahead of me. Those changes aren’t necessarily for the betterment of myself, but for the processes I’ve been going through. Like the souls that Nut swallows, I am being masticated, swallowed, and digested to be remade. The only thing is that I will be constantly going through this process. So, too, will the practice. There doesn’t seem to be a finish line in the distance just the overlong journey as I wander around, hoping that I’m not fucking things up completely.

Festival of the Beautiful Reunion: Week One.

I spend a lot of my time recreating my religion with a sort of inner panic pounding at the back of my mind. There are resources that I don’t have access to. There are items that I can only guess at. There are little clues strewn about for what I can think my religion is supposed to end up looking like, but I don’t honestly know.

That’s where the panic steps in.

I think a lot of people take a glimpse at the pictures I post or the things that I say about my religion and just automatically assume that I know what I’m doing. I never do. Part of the reason why I try not to plan things out too much in advance is because I fear that plans will make the expectations that much higher and that much worse.

The anxiety of fucking everything up by mispronouncing something or dropping a dish accidentally is a pretty big thing for me. It’s a hurdle that I don’t think I will ever be able to leap over. Maybe that’s not true; maybe one day I will get through passed it but that day is not today… or this past week.

I just… never really know what I’m doing.

Fall Sunrise III

Sometimes I can feel Re’s rays like hands upon my face, but mostly I just wonder what it must be like to go through the same damn journey every fucking day and night. (Photograph, Fall Sunrise III, by Brian Doucette)

Every morning, I was up early to greet the day. This was never my intent. I do not like being awake at five o’clock in the morning, even if I can take the time to reflect of a religious nature. Or maybe even to use the time to psych myself up for what the day ahead could possibly entail. I am not one of those people who feels the requirement to take time out of my day for that and besides that is precisely what my two cups of coffee between 6:30AM and 7:15AM is for.

Waking up at 5AM seemed beyond ludicrous.

But I would roll over and stare blankly through the blinds above me. I would listen to the birds shriek that the day was coming and that we should all be cheerfully happy to greet it. I would watch the sun rise. My thoughts hardly ever were introspective though because that’s just not who I am more often than not.

No, I would watch the sun rise and wonder what it must be like to live permanently on a boat.

Personally, I think it would get boring very quickly. I wonder if he’s conned other people into doing the do for him, if for no other reason than to take a break. I mean, if you really think about it, sitting on a solar barque for the entirety of creation has got to get a little boring after a while. Maybe he’s got Skinemax and Xbox though…

When it was close enough to my normal time to wake up, I would roll to my knees and start the day. Hot coffee for me; cool water and bread for them. My routine changed for this holiday. I always start with Sekhmet, as being the closest and most obvious deity to my ib. But since it was the time of Hetheru and Heru-Wer, I would go to them in the morning and get their offerings for the day gathered together before getting everyone else squared away.

Some mornings, I would stand in front of the space that I had created for this whole shindig and just look at them. Other times, I would move them a little so that they were closer together. I made sure that the ankh-and-lotus-blossom necklace remained wrapped around them, a potent symbol of the reunification of the two of them in my brain.

Every morning, I stopped and played music. I had started all of this with a sort of musical theme semi-mapped out in the back of my mind. Music is, honestly, very integral to my religious practice. It may not seem like it considering the fact that I listen to music that may not be often associated with religious practices, but UPG is still valid to me. And my musical choices have become so soaked in my religious practices that to not have played music would have been as close to a Kemetic no-no for me as I could possibly get.

I play songs that tug at the strings of my ib but also ones that I have found have assisted me as I figure out what I am being led towards. I also played other songs, songs from a past long since dead, but songs that have personal meaning. It all worked together for a single moment to bring me into the dawn of another day on a two-week long journey that I was beginning to eat at me.

sunset 2

As the blood of sunset touched the horizon, I felt weary beyond all words. Even maintaining a hint of piety throughout the work day was impossible. (Photograph, Sunset 2, by Djura Radin.)

I spent my evenings prepping meals for about an hour to an hour and a half. I had certain parameters that I felt that I needed to meet, which is why it could take me so long to get everything completed before I set the meals before them.

There were dishes to be cleaned (again) as I do not have many and had to  reuse most of them. Once that was done, I spent my careful time preparing what I felt would be healthy meals: zucchini; asparagus; apples; grapes; fresh bread. I had a certain integrity to the supper table that I needed to maintain. I found that I liked having at least one meal a day that included all of the requirements of the food pyramid.

But I also found that I grew quite full quite fast. A dilemma, I suppose. I found myself reusing portions of the evening meal to cover my lunches. And found that I was still full well into midday on the next day. I made less and less food, but I still felt myself full for later and later periods into the next day. I still haven’t quite figured that out yet.

I made sure that there was chocolate for afterwards and soft scents to perfume the air. The one thing that stuck with me in my reading was, of course, the fact that the scents of myrrh could be smelled for miles around the area of Edfu. I wasn’t able to recreate that part, but I tried my hardest. I also plied them with plenty of drink, which I was happy enough to revert.

Each night, I found myself exhausted by nine o’clock. I had barely finished eating my meals and I was ready to curl up and sleep forever. I rarely was able to go to bed then, though. I found myself thinking long and hard about my day at work and how I needed to change my job post-haste or found myself sucked into the world of my mind, wondering what it was that I was expected to be doing that could ease how exhausting this religion thing really is.

And that’s the crux, I think. I found myself so exhausted each night that I could barely function. I was little more than a being sitting peacefully on the couch, staring blankly into the night.

I was thinking one night about the priests and priesthood in ancient Egypt. I definitely understand so completely now why their job was nothing but seeing to the needs of the temple for 4 months out of the year. Having a second job and having to tend family coupled with the religious requirements I felt compelled to do was eating me alive.

unsorted

Love knows not distance; it hath no continent; its eyes are for the stars. – Gilbert Parker (Photograph, unsorted, by Jessica Naomi.)

I’ve felt like this holiday was a large turning point in my religious shenanigans. I haven’t been wrong so far.

I’ve learned a lot of very interesting and intriguing parts about myself as well as to the religion that I am attempting to recreate. I’ve had a lot of thoughts about the whole relationship between Hetheru and Heru that have made me look hungrily for older resources regarding the two. I need to know more.

But at the base of it all, I have found that the belief that this is a large turning point in many things to come isn’t wrong.

Not so wrong at all.

Festival of the Beautiful Reunion 2015: Wetjeset-Hor.

One of the most important recurring themes in ancient Egyptian cosmogonies is the eruption of the primeval mound, or benben, into existence.

In Hermopolis, the Ogdoad merged to form it. In Heliopolis, Atum[-Re] comes into existence and sits upon the mound to create Shu and Tefnut. In Memphis, Ptah is associated with the mound in his associations with Tatenen, who personifies it. The city of Thebes was thought to be the place of the primeval mound.

But these aren’t the only aspects in which we find the primeval mound popping up, either. Outside of Edfu, there is a place known as Wetjeset-Hor. It translates best as “the place where Heru extolled.” To me, this seems clear: this was thought to be a zone of pre-creation, where Heru landed upon the benben and extolled creation… probably in association with his form of Ra-Horakhty. Or maybe there’s more to the elder Heru’s genesis than we know.

In either case, it is at Wetjeset-Hor that Hetheru and Heru come together for the first time during the Festival of the Beautiful Reunion.

Primeval Mound

Primeval Mound; ink and pen. (Art by Jenny Carrington.)

The meeting of the two at Wetjeset-Hor has manifold implications. As the place where life began, it is a sort of cosmological meeting point between the seen and the unseen. I read up a bit on the place and it seems like the beginnings of the Temple of Edfu began there. Egyptologists have found pieces of society dating back to the Old Kingdom and even during Pre-Dynastic times. The import isn’t lost on me in that respect at all.

But I think the symbolism is more than just mere creation. I think it speaks of renewal and regeneration, two items that are so often intertwined in ancient Egyptian belief systems that it can be difficult to do much more than mention it.

As I was reading what I could about this place, I thought back to the Ancestor Ritual that is discussed in My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts. I was thinking, specifically, of the bits regarding the bull’s heart.

A heart is offered to the gods as a symbol of vitality and life. It pulses with the very breath of our lives, filled with the very essence of who we are. In the Ancestor Ritual, the heart is offered up as a physical representation of all that the son has become not just in his own right but in his merging with his mother.

But by virtue of sexually uniting with his mother, Horus has indeed taken the place of his father in every possible way. He has become a ‘Bull-of-his-Mother’, capable of perpetuating an unending cycle of regeneration through the heart. And incestuous though this union of hearts may be, it encapsulates the mysteries exchange of life energy necessary for the empowerment of the new ruler. Though Osiris has gone to his Ka he remains actively supporting his son, who now embodies the procreative powers of his predecessor. (p.77)

The similarities between the triad of Wesir/Aset/Heru-sa-Aset and the triad of Ra/Hetheru/Heru-Wer is not lost on me. And I think that is, above all else, why this particular part of the Ancestor Ritual came to mind.

It is the meeting place at Wetjeset-Hor that makes me realize how similar these two triads really are. And it is by virtue of this meeting in the first place of creation, at the primeval mound of that creation, when the greening of their hearts truly comes to be. As hethert-dot-org says, “It is appropriate that the meeting of Het-Hert and Heru occurs at this holy place, because the fruit of their conjugal union symbolizes new life, fertility and regeneration.”

I think the meeting is very much like that heart – the seat of everything in both my practice and of tantamount import in the unseen and afterlife – being offered up to the gods.

Be Still My Beating Heart

Sometimes my ib chokes me with the weight of it. And other times, it is a comfort about me. (Photo by Mustang Aly.)

At Wetjeset-Hor, I provided so many offerings. I laden the plates with everything, throwing confetti at the two statues in the shape of hearts. If nothing else, it’s a bit like Valentine’s Day for me. Only instead of celebrating hearts and love with people, I’m celebrating it between two deities who have made profound impacts on me in so many innumerable ways.

After, I divined to see when it would be best to finish the journey to Edfu proper. According to what I had read, this was done. It makes sense. Sailing on the Nile could be a nasty business and no one would really want to lose two major icons. It would be quite inauspicious, no? They spent an entire 24 hours at Wetjeset-Hor, surrounded by hearts and love and offerings and more love.

Perhaps the reeds have been planted in their hearts, too, and new life grows in the union between them. It’s probably only my life, to be fair, but at least it grows.