Local Cultus: Neighborhood.

When I was 9, we moved to a suburb after living for most of my life close to downtown. There was a multi-tenant house before the apartment but I don’t remember it that much. What few memories I do have from my youngest years are in the apartment on the bus route that took my mom to work every day.

The neighborhood we moved to was on the edge of another neighborhood so we straddled the divide between “the good zip code” and “the so-so zip code”. We lived in a good area frankly, and most of the houses and shops were from the post-WWII building boom in that area. It was the first time we had a yard and there were trees and plants everywhere. No weeping willows though, which had been the only tree in the tiny dirt backyard of the apartment we lived in before. My first walk through the neighborhood had me feeling like we had moved to a magical place.

I can remember stopping under a tree and becoming dazzled by the way the sunlight filtered through the leaves. The feeling I had that day wasn’t so much that I was home but that I was finally discovering something meant for only me. The following year, I recreated that walk, hoping to find the magical quality that had so enchanted me that first time. It wasn’t there.

It took me a while to find the flow of that neighborhood. It was quiet until the kids came out like you expect a suburb to be but it felt tired and cranky for all of the childlike adventures the neighborhood kids went on. It was like it had been put through its paces for so long that it needed a rest. And that’s the truth; the neighborhood was filled with blue collar workers who has “paid the dues” to buy houses away from the busy city center. Nowadays, it is resting as all the people who snapped up homes there say goodbye to their children and grow older, quieter, and more housebound.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

My original forays into local cultus had me focused on local landforms. The idea felt a bit like all of the mountains and rivers and parks and fields needed attention; they needed some form of homage or tribute paid to them. The wildlife of these places, too, needed attention and affection in some way. The world in which I inhabited, an urban hellhole with animals that hardly made an appearance day or night, required no love, no attention, no tribute. It existed merely as a place to live for those who couldn’t or wouldn’t ever live close to a rural, or more suburban, flow.

Years have gone by and while I had started and stopped attempts to get in touch with my city, to pay it homage in some form, it never worked out. I had a bad attitude about it. I was trying to force things to fit in while being disgusted with my urban home. Neither of those, being disgusted or forcing things, was ever going to make it work. It was never going to happen if I didn’t let the process evolve naturally. And frankly, it wasn’t until the last year or so that it really began to develop.

I think the idea began when I really started noticing how many bunnies called my yard home. Or, it could have been the night a skunk silently waddled through my yard while my heart leapt into my throat in fear of being sprayed. I had never actually seen a skunk that wasn’t dead before then. But it may have begun when I started taking daily walks along the river that sometimes included walks in the city instead and I noticed so many little details of the yards, the houses, and little things that spoke to the history of the neighborhood I lived in.

I came to be fascinated about what happened before I even came into existence and would spend hours reading and downloading historical tidbits from bloggers, webpages, and city funded surveys. With each new thing I learned, an appreciation for the city I had called home for most of my life developed into a sort of childlike wonder at all the things that had come before to form what I see everyday all around me. It was a trip.

The more that I learned, the more I came to realize that to leave out the neighborhood in my local cultus forays wasn’t a good idea. Whether I liked it or not, I lived there and to think that ignoring its existence for some imagined “grass is greener” ideal was faulty and rude. I began to focus more and more on my neighborhood and all the ones that had come before, trying to piece together what my intuition was telling me.

The spirit of these neighborhoods may have changed dramatically through the years, but they were still there in some form. And some of them wanted the attention that I had been paying to other things. They wanted just as much to feel that breath of life blown back into them that I had been giving to others.

When I realized this, I mused and researched the idea of paying homage or tribute to your neighborhood. It didn’t seem particularly common from what I found. It was as if everyone wanted to ignore their home setting for something else. Or maybe those who had been pulled in this direction were silent on the topic, uncertain on how to speak of it. In either case, I began trying to figure out how to make this work especially in an urban setting.

The first and most important piece I found was that research was the key. In many cities, we live in areas that have been around a far bit longer than we have been alive. Researching the areas that I felt most connected to, or the area that I lived in, gave me a sort of general feeling and idea about what the neighborhoods had originally been created for. While that purpose is no longer the case for any of the neighborhoods in my city, it’s a good starting point. To know a thing is to know its history.

The second piece was to begin searching out specific areas mentioned in the research. Those pieces of the neighborhood may still exist, or they may have been torn down. But those areas were central, once, to its existence and it may still play some large part to the overall spirit of the neighborhood. I found that that is the case for only one of the neighborhoods (ish) that I lived in over the years; the rest had changed and morphed into whatever the city needed after their primary focus had been taken away.

The third was to focus on the plant and animal life that made the neighborhood home. As I mentioned above, most wildlife in the area that I had been living in hid away from human eyes. We had encroached so heavily into their territory that even many birds tended to stay away from the urban sprawl. But if you look hard enough, you’ll begin to find their habitation all around you. You just have to know what to look for.

And finally, when I felt ready, I began to explore the sense I was getting from the spirit of the neighborhood. I would close my eyes at random times of the day, take a deep breath (sometimes with a bit of smog mixed in), and try to connect with the feeling of the place around me.

I’ve done this twice now since I began realizing that I was doing myself, and my home, a disservice by ignoring it: once in a truly urban setting and again in a suburban setting. It’s worked out well so far.

The Village Within the City

After moving back up north, we found ourselves a tiny-ass apartment at the end of a quiet city street and the end of the main street through the neighborhood. It was literally on the very edge of the city; our yard was the last one in the city and the sign proclaiming entrance to the city next door was on the edge of the property. Across the river was another city, easily accessible from the 75 year old bridge that was the easiest way in and out. It was a nexus of sorts, simultaneously quiet and overlooked as well as busy and noisy.

The neighborhood proclaimed itself a village, which was technically true. It was one of the last neighborhoods to be truly settled in the city and was a village unto itself until the industrial boom of the early 1900s that was its claim to fame. A large river separated the village from the city across from it and it was on that river, towards the edge of the village, that the mills and factories were built with tenement buildings for the workers. The main street was picturesque with trees and sidewalks. The railroad had a depot in front of the mill and factory area along the river. Another railroad, still functioning, cuts the edge of the village off from the city-next-door.

The houses that line the streets are a hodgepodge. There were three-deckers for apartments, bungalows and ranches, multi-unit buildings, American foursquares, and the like. Every available space in the village had been taken up for some urban use, either commercial or residential. Victorians and Queen Annes made up smaller sections of busier roads, everyone with a postage stamp sized yard to call their own. Trees decorated the city sidewalks and offered shade for those who needed it.

For all the beauty of the river, the planning board didn’t give much thought to parks or conservation. Three parks call the village home. One is difficult to get to, another has a water feature and is used by many, and the final largest park was in talks to be sold off for a parking lot years back. The largest park is the only local home of a decent basketball court and the parking lot lies full for hours at night and on the weekends during good weather, yet another reason the city thought about selling it off since the majority of the population are Hispanic, black, and poor. The only conservation taking place are the hilly spaces on the outskirts where building more plants or mobile home parks are nearly impossible. There is nowhere for preteens and teenagers to really go to hang out.

The village lost its image after the mills and factories closed. It had a face to present to the world. It was a good face: the face of hard workers (men, women, and children) happily working in the mills for pennies on the dollar. When the factories and mills along the river dried up and closed down, the buildings were shuttered and the tenements were raised to make room for parking or commercial needs. A large swatch of cracked blacktop sits where pictures were once taken to document the child workers in the mills.

Two major businesses still call the village home, though on the very edge of the village, and one of them pollutes the air or the river with their runoff. The smoke stacks puff heavily into the morning sky, and either blanket the mobile home park or the part of the village that I once called home with chemicals. No one had raised an alarm against this business; they are after all interconnected with very big government names and who cares, really? The village was built on the idea of the factory and the mill: isn’t it grand that a single token of that heyday still stands? And besides, who cares about the poor?

Once when I was talking with an old-timer about the area, he told me a little anecdote that encapsulates this point:

“I can’t believe they built the elementary school there. There were better places to put it,” he said to me.

“Why do you say that?” I had asked, not knowing a lick of history about the area at the time. It had never interested me before.

“Well, one of the old factories turned uranium rods into slugs. And it was down the street from where the elementary school is now. You know it; the place that’s fenced off looks like it should be a parking lot? That was the dump. The solar farm is where the factory was and they dumped the uranium there. They say it’s ‘remediated’ now, but how can anyone think a school within a mile of that place is a good idea?”

I drove by that place every day on my way to or from work.

The village never rebranded itself. It didn’t seem to want to. Walking down the streets early in the morning or late at night, a desire for an identity seemed fleeting. It was as if it had had its heyday and couldn’t be bothered to come up with a new image, a new face. The councils have tried rebranding and marketing the busy little village as more than a pass-through for people on their way to work in the morning or people on their way home at night, but nothing has truly stuck.

The village often felt like it had been forgotten. As if it had once served a valuable, capitalist ideal and had never recovered from that ideal later. It was a mecca for travel but not for anyone looking to stay for long. People who drive by perhaps look at the older store fronts with picturesque windows and brightly painted signs, hoping to entice people to stay for a bit and shop. But the store front windows are mostly dusty and unused, a reminder that what had once been important isn’t any longer.

The overall feeling of this little village with a vast mix of people is tired. It is a place to go home to but little else. It only bustles on the weekends for all the people driving to somewhere else. The village often seemed to me like it had had enough. Not unlike that first neighborhood that I mentioned above, it was done with it all. Only instead of cranky, the village felt more resigned than anything else. It was as if it had seen it all and nothing could surprise it anymore.

As the village seemed to not want to interact, I respected its wishes. There were places where a hint, a whisper of a desire called to me and I paid these tiny little spaces homage with little offerings of food or pictures. These tiny little bastions of want weren’t common and on the by and large, I did my best to leave the sad, little village alone. It wanted to be left behind and progress refused to allow its wants. So the best I could do was to walk the sidewalks and wonder what things had once been like a hundred years before and whisper that I could understand how it felt.

The Bedroom Community

As some readers may remember, my husband and I finally bought a house last summer. The area we moved to is filled with an historical pretension it doesn’t have. There are only about half a dozen houses that date to between the 1750s-1850s, but most of the houses built here are trying desperately to hearken back to ye olde days.

There are a lot of houses built during the 1900s revival era: Georgian colonials, Cape Cods, Dutch colonials, and New England colonials. Some people may like to think their homes are older, but none of them were in fact built then since our little bedroom community was originally wild forest before it was turned into pastoral grazing land for the town next door. And this isn’t to say that we don’t have the standard ranch, split level, bungalows, raised ranch, or A-frames in the neighborhood because we do. However they’re more like beacons amid the historical throwback attempts of the other homes on the block.

My town was incorporated only 126 years ago, but people had moved here only starting in the mid-1700s. Most of those original houses were lost and there’s only a single one that claims to be from then. The rest of the handful of older houses are from the 1800s and every single one registered with the historical society are within walking distance of where I currently live.

This place is a bedroom community for the metro area beside it. And as I stated above, it has staked a claim on a history that was not properly recorded and so, therefore, is most likely inaccurate in many respects. But that doesn’t stop my neighbors from putting cute little decorative carriage house hardware on their garages and front doors, or the pristine green of their perfectly manicured front yards.

After the quarries dried up in the early 1900s, the city rebranded itself as a bedroom community for the metro area. It also focused heavily on conservation efforts across town, many such efforts centering on one of the hundreds of quarries that once called this place home.

Many houses in my areas have been built to conserve as much nature as possible with thick copses of trees and wildlife strategically found up and down the city streets. I have a bog and a few hundred feet of wooded area between me and the houses behind us although strengthening wind storms due to climate change have downed many of the trees back there. There are 470 acres currently devoted to conservation areas and they attract many hikers.

They built one of those rail-trails a few years back across a good portion of the town. The original train depot still exists and they’re working to conserve its legacy as the stopping point for visitors and the loading point for the stones mined from the quarries to places unknown. Nowadays it’s used so often by locals and non that I prefer to stay away from it. There’s too much going on over there.

The wildlife is everywhere, making itself felt in the hoards of geese and ducks that call the baseball fields by the tiny man-made lakes home. The birds and bees and rabbits and squirrels and chipmunks all scramble through the yards and streets on their way to finding the next delicious morsel for sustenance. The deer keep to the outskirts of town, but they’re easily found if you look hard enough. They claim there are bobcats around here, but I couldn’t say for sure. I can only assume that there may be.

The overall feeling of this community is hopeful. They saw the writing on the wall when the quarries began to close down and realized that they needed to do something to keep their home functional. They hadn’t seen it all having only had its incorporation legal for twenty years, if that, by the time the quarries began to close and knew that they had to do something to keep their home alive.

As I walk through the twilight hours down to the cemetery nearby or down the hills towards the center, the feelings that come to me are peaceful. I am still a bit in awe of all of the beauty around us with the trees and shrubs and flowers coming into bloom now. But I have always felt relaxed and at peace here (my grandparents lived here when I was a kid so we visited a bit) and that feeling has never diminished.

In Conclusion…

I know this has been a long entry and for anyone who has continued to read to this point, thank you for sticking it out.

I wanted to convey the point that while the idea of living in either an urban or suburban settlement may preclude the idea that we can find local cultus there this isn’t necessarily true. It may require more time, focusing on the research of the history of your home or just spending time outdoors with eyes closed to catch the sense of the world around you, but it is possible. And I think, on the by and large, we may be doing our homes and ourselves a disservice by not finding that spirit, that sense, that feeling of home and giving it the attention that it truly deserves.

This is fraught with issues for a variety of reasons (and I won’t get into them all). I can’t tell you how many times I left a little offering out on the crossroads beside my home in the village with semi-trailer drivers staring at me from their temporary red-light home while I started back, nonplussed. Or the amount of looks I get from old-timers in the bedroom community as I stop for a moment to soak up the way the sunlight hits the blooming flowers in their yards in awe and wonder.

But it helps to feel that connection with your home, to build upon its connection with you so that you can, in turn, build upon it as a form of foundation to branch out into other local cultus arenas.

Stand in the Sun.

As a baby pagan, after I had gluttoned myself on all the books by all of the authors that older pagans cringe at now, I found a website that told me believing and worshiping the ancient Egyptian gods was real. Floored by what I had found, I read through the list of names of the gods over and over again. I formed their names with my lips and wondered what worshiping them might look like. And as I went through those list of names, perhaps influenced by early divine goddess rumblings or merely my own past, I swore I would never worship the male deities. They had had enough worship; I would only honor the women goddesses.

I’ve thought about that time in my life and I’ve come to the conclusion that this was a childish form of rebellion against the wrong religion. All my life, I had been indoctrinated to believe that while God has no true sex, it was He this and He that. I was tired of all the He. Even my irritable changing the He in prayers and Bible readings to She wasn’t enough. I was sick of male deities after living a lifetime suckling the teet of male deity propaganda. (Side note: churches should only use They for God now.) So, I decided the ladies was where my attention would go and that was that.

Hoo boy, has shit changed in 20 years.

A Wild God Appears

In very late 2018, shortly after Samhain, I felt the first real kick from Ra. I was distinctly uncomfortable with the attention. As anyone who may have followed me for a while knows, we don’t get on. But there he was like a towering statue out of the thick fog. I knew why of course; the 2019 Year of Rebirth project may have started off about Sekhmet but it really was about more than just she.

One thing I’ve found more and more as I go deeper down this road is the fact that hard polytheism only works so much when it comes to the NTRW. If you’re working on things for one deity, invariably what you’re doing will no doubt effect or benefit others. Sekhmet, created from Ra’s power, is as connected to the other gods as the rest of them. Dying for Sekhmet’s benefit was dying for Ra’s benefit.

He was patient and quiet, which is what I needed to get over some things. Say what we will about gods busting down doors without knocking, occasionally they seem to be able to read the room before they even get in there. So he was mostly quiet while I came to terms with the idea that he was around, he was going to stay around, and that most likely his presence would continue well past 2019.

It didn’t start to become more of a relationship until about Spring of 2019. Things started kind of piecing together for us. He asked for very few things other than attention and a few little baubles. I asked him once if this would turn into something more. He kind of snorted and said no. I had assumed originally that this relationship would turn into a shrine, an icon, altar space for prayer. But when I had asked, I got the distinct impression he found my question amusing before he told me no.

He did ask for a daily rite that I had written for him for the Year of Rites project, which I managed to finish before 2018 came to an end. While the Year of Rites project fell apart about midway through 2019, he didn’t seem too unhappy that I had stopped doing the daily rites with the words I had written. I did the physical portion of the rite and that seemed to be enough.

For a while anyway.

Once you start down the rabbit hole, you get a little lost. No matter how many times you try to back track to the start to find your way out, the labyrinth closes up behind you until the only way out is through. The way through looked weird and strange to me. Not completely at any rate, but a good bit of it was new territory. Ra merely said to keep it up; I’d know where the exit was eventually.

That Wasn’t an Exit

As 2019 came to a close, I began to register that Ra’s presence was dimming so to speak. I don’t know how to put it that will make it clearer but as October hit, he seemed to have collapsed in on himself. I assumed it was because the year was starting to come to a close and he needed strength for the actual birth of the new year. I was partially right, but not completely.

It was the week of Samhain that it all came together. The clock change was set to begin the Sunday following Halloween and I could sense that this was it. He was going to do one of those dramatic exits that the gods seem to love to do and leave me with some vague request. The request wasn’t completely vague oddly enough.

“Look beyond the trappings and you’ll find me there,” he seemed to say as his time with me grew ever shorter. I remember standing in my backyard the weekend of the time change and staring at the sky. “My time for now is over. Use this quiet to figure out the puzzle.” Not like I needed clear cut answers anyway.

That winter, as the world cooled and the snow refused to fall, I would look up at the watery light of the sun and wonder what Ra was up to. I would imagine the rays of sunlight trying so desperately to reach me in my backyard but unable to do so through the winter wind and ice cold frost. I tried to play his playlist and found it didn’t work for the way the land and world around me had changed to winter.

The trappings are encapsulated by my altar room. That was the place where I found my gods over and over again and while I have pieces that are designated for Ra in there, I had never really felt him there. He was always outside, in the land, in the air, and in the world around me. I had looked beyond the trappings and found the god in the natural world.

This isn’t strange; it’s not abnormal. I’ve long had a local cultus push for my gods, but it was Ra who solidified it in a way I hadn’t been able to do until he showed up. The physical reminders of worship and altars are for the priests; the natural world and the worship within is for everyone else.

Timing is Everything

Since Ra all but disappeared at the time change, I wondered if I could expect him back in 2020 when it changed again. I waited throughout the winter, wondering if my hunch was correct. The Tuesday prior to the time change, my calendar told me there were Ra festivities coming up (feast for three or four days in his and the Irt-Ra honor) and just after the time change, the Divine Birth of Ra lined up nicely with his return.

I looked back to see what was going on, calendar-wise, in October as I hadn’t been paying as much attention to the holiday alerts since fall is a busy holiday time for my calendar. Nothing so concrete as a “say bye to the sun” but there were a few hints that I missed back then, which will become important in another entry.

It seemed that I had figured out that my relationship with Ra was to coincide with the world around me. As spring approached and the whispers of birds and plants began to grow louder, I could feel him more and more in the air and beside me. I remember waking up one morning between the time change and Ostara whispering, “oh there you are.” And there he was.

He hasn’t given any directives since he showed up and other than a matter-of-fact hello-how-are-you, he’s been pretty quiet while I try to figure out what all of this means. It’s one thing to understand, finally, the reason and the push, but it’s quite another to turn it into reality.

I kind of feel like I’ve been stumbling along, occasionally picking up clues and messages that tell me I’m headed forward to somewhere else. After talking about this a bit with TTR, I was happy to find that I’m not the only one in this boat, but it doesn’t necessarily help anyone at all. We may all be headed in the same direction, but who really knows what it will all look like at the end of the day?

Ra, probably.

The Beginning is Now

My local cultus push has been a thing for some years now. It started in fits and spurts around 5 years ago, maybe more, and has been increasingly felt throughout the rest of my relationships with my gods. Part of this push has caused decay in some of my relationships (Sekhmet and Ptah, who I have yet to find in the world around me) and solidified others in ways I hadn’t ever expected (Heru-Wer, Hetheru, and of course Ra).

Over the winter, I read through Hathor: A Reintroduction… by Lesley Jackson. One of the quotes that I ended up posting on my Tumblr has stayed with me most often, especially now that I understand the next phase of where this relationship with Ra is supposed to go:

…but the Egyptians also detected her presence in nature; in the rustling of papyrus in the swamps, in the breeze through sycamore leaves and in places in the desert where there were conspicuous outcrops of rock

P 198, Hathor: A Reintroduction to an Ancient Egyptian Goddess by Lesley Jackson

This isn’t, by all means, the only clue-by-four that’s showed up leading me down this road, but it’s the one that stuck with me the most often. Usually it comes up when I’m sitting outside, staring up at the sun and trying to parse out the nuance of how local cultus is supposed to formulate the basis for many things going forward.

All of this, whatever this may actually end up being, is a reset in a manner of speaking. The ongoing path project has always been a bit of a disappointment for me. I’ve always felt the push in one direction and never really felt comfortable in going that way. But I’m reminded that my path is ever-evolving and has always been best summed up by the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken.

Now, the path ahead is forged with oak and grass, bees and tree frogs, hawks and owls, mayflower and staghorn sumac. There are gods within these places as there always has been; the gods of these places may be gone now or colonized into silence, but there are other gods who seem to want to be found there, gods who have followed me for most of my life in some form or another. And while I’m not sure whether I have the right to see them there since I am living on land stolen from indigenous peoples, I see them there anyway.

In Conclusion…

In February, I did a month-ahead Tarot reading for the month of March. I didn’t foresee the pandemic (sorry) since I was looking at myself. The Theme of the Month was a card called Spellwork, which we can sum up as meaning this: “create a recipe of your own choosing; gather the ingredients together to gain clarity and insight; you know exactly what you need so follow your intuition.” If that doesn’t tell me what I need to know, then what does?

Ra has made it very clear that he is here to stay and while sometimes I still feel like this is all an elaborate prank on the stupid human, sometimes I think everything will be okay. His entrance into my life has overtaken many other areas of my practice, almost like he’s clearing the slate to a point where I can actually start over. I’m a little hesitant only because I don’t want to fully sacrifice the carefully created relationships I’ve already made, but I’m also interested to see how this could play out. And I can admit that I haven’t felt interested in my religion in a very long time.

The other day, as I was taking my daily walk, the sun threw its life-giving rays between a thick scattering of white pines. The rays of the sun were clear and reflected off of a small creek that traveled through the wooded area. I managed to snap a picture of it, and it looks like there are two suns: one in the sky and one on the ground. The rays of both suns meet in the middle in a sort of new horizon. I take a lot of nature pictures, but that’s my favorite so far. I think it neatly captures my religious life and where it’s always been headed.

The Question.

 

One of the many little parts of my daily ritual includes the pulling of a daily card. I leave it out on the window sill beside my cupful of Ma’at to soak up the morning rays or the leaden skies that are forecast for the day. Sometimes, when I pull the card, I immediately understand it. It’s a reminder, a suggestion, and push in the right direction. Sometimes it begs me to slow down and to take care of myself. And sometimes it makes no sense whatsoever; it means nothing to me at the time. Whether it means something to me later is a matter of debate.

As part of this little ritual, I select a single deck to use for the month ahead. I prefer to use the same deck day-in and day-out for the full month because it helps me to understand decks that I may not use regularly and it also helps me to rotate my various decks. I have many, many types of oracle and Tarot cards and I can never use them all as much as I would like to.

This month of January I allowed my hands to float over my various decks until I pulled out a deck that I had been gifted with last year that I had side-eyed when I opened it but have found myself enjoying using: The Heart of the Faerie Oracle.

I know very little about the fae; it’s just not an area of interest to me. I love the posts about fae politics and culture and culture that go around Tumblr, but that’s about it. That’s why I didn’t understand why the deck was sent to me, but as I’ve used it over the last year, I’ve begun to understand the draw. Sometimes the cards are oblique, immaterial, confusing; sometimes it is like a punch in the gut.

Today’s pull was puzzling.

The candle is from CottageWicks and frigging amazing.

The guidebook had this to say about the card, The Question:

Intention / Dialogue / Answers

In Faerie, questions are very important. Questions, answers, and wishes, all of those things that help or hinder us on our journey are very much a part of our relationship with Faerie. “Who am I? What is your quest? Why have you come here, and what do you seek?” are questions often asked by the individuals you meet in Faerie. They don’t as often ask you who you are. It is more important for you to discover who they are.

It is important to know why you are traveling in Faerie and to be able to express that reason. You will be asked. When you cross the border into the otherworld, you should have a reason to be there. Are you a tourist, just looking around, hoping to send a postcard home? Are you on a quest, a journey of the spirit? Do you want knowledge? Experience of the otherworld? Are you looking for love? Are you searching for something that you have lost?

If you draw the Question in a reading, try to answer those questions for yourself. When you have answered, you can ask one of your own. What is that question, and of whom are you asking it? If you are clear about your quest (in Faerie and in life) and what you seek, you will then be able to ask the right questions and be ready to hear the answers.

This was all very nice and lovely, but it didn’t really explain why this card had come up this morning. I wrote in my Tarot Journal that I truly didn’t understand the purpose of all of this and figured that either I would eventually come to an understanding, or I wouldn’t. Sometimes I’m lucky and something pops up that allows me to connect the dots and other times, I’m left with a puzzled frown on my face, trying to understand what the cards are trying to say.

I was lucky that I was able to figure it out a bit after settling down to read through my WordPress Reader. I had a number of outstanding posts that I had been saving up for when I had a free moment and I had nothing to do for a bit while I waited for the world to wake up. The last post I had to read through was a post by someone I’ve known for years. I found myself at first uncomfortably interested and then visibly intrigued by what they had to say.

As I sat back, phone on my lap staring at the ceiling, I could understand what they had been going through. I, too, have watched as others have managed to bring to flesh their religious practice in a way that I cannot fathom. It is as if the language those people with fleshed out practices speak is so close to my own and yet, it is nothing like my language. I, too, have found myself envious and admiring of what those people have posted and wondered what that would look like for me.

I’ve known for a long time that the practice I’ve been kind-of dealing with hasn’t been enough. I knew it wasn’t enough four years ago, but I kept sticking to it because Kemeticism is what I knew and what I wanted. I can admit that it is still what I want; I want the relationships with the gods that I have and I suppose I’m amenable to exploring the relationships pushed upon me by such gods as Osiris and Ra. But I want flesh to cover the bones.

I want to be able to sink my hands into the dirt of my practice and feel it soak through my soul. I want to see it and smell it like a verdant garden, ripening eternally in spring-like splendor. I want to hear it and touch it. I want to know that it is there and it is made not only myself whole, but my life whole. I want to feel the ecstasy of release and the comfort of it all. I want.

I pulled my phone back up to my face and carefully typed a response to the post, “I’ve had similar issues myself. I can feel and see the bones but the flesh isn’t there. It’s been an ongoing issue for me for, well, a long time. Part of that is because I’ve felt very adrift lately.”

After leaving the comment, I put my phone down and stared at the ceiling some more. (This is actually something I do often when I’m lost in thought. I’m not sure that a ceiling has ever been able to answer questions, but it has been able to form the questions I was looking for.) The Question was there buried in the meat of my mind and it finally took form: “What would it feel like to have a fleshed out practice? What it would it look like to have something with tone and form and more than just tossing a dart at a dart board? How would I even do that?”

We don’t see this sort of stuff in Kemeticism; not really. The only person who really talked about it was TTR and they’re gone for the most part. I don’t doubt that there are Kemetics with something that is concrete and comfortable and livable, but if they’re out there, I haven’t seen them. Oh, I see people effect that persona and make it seem like that’s where they are, but I can see through the veneer. They’re no better off than I am.

When I compare what I do with what others have done, I see the difference. My practice and the practices of many other public Kemetics appear to be charcoal drawings. Others’ practices from other faiths look as if they have been shaded and painted and have a form that I can only marvel at. I want to know what that would be like for me, but alas.

Personally, I’m just cruising around, letting the flow of the world around me push and pull me wherever it decides I should go. That’s normal for me; I’m a go-with-the-flow kind of person and (contrary to popular misconceptions) I don’t like to cause a fuss. I just want things to be smooth, simple, easy, and ready for the taking. I’m just a little lazy that way.

But it doesn’t feel good. And as I’ve mentioned a time or six, it doesn’t seem to be working. As usual, I have to decide what’s best and where to go from here and I have to admit that fuck if I know. Fuck if I know.

So… well… This day started with a card pull; I should finish it with one.

The deck is the dual deck The Hidden Path & Well-Worn Path Deck which is a Raven Grimassi deck. I’ve had it since long before I learned how to better vet things and people in the pagan sphere.

I decided on this deck because it was always the one, back in those early 20-teens days that I could turn to and find a form to what I was looking for. It was the stop-gap when I felt like I was going off the rails. I needed to feel that foundation again; that feeling of knowing where I was going and what I was doing and using the very deck that steered me so well back then seemed to make the most sense.

I chose the ten-card spread called The Cauldron Spread from the book. The ten positions are listed below along with the cards I pulled for each:

  1. The Present Situation – Yule
  2. The Challenges Ahead – Ostara
  3. The Underlying Root – Tree in Summer
  4. The Querent’s Appearance in Relation to the Question – The Altar
  5. The Influencing Aspects – Faery Door
  6. Aspirations and Concerns – Wheel of the Year
  7. The Probable Course – Between the Worlds
  8. The Possible Alternative – Earth
  9. The Final Outcome – The Old Ones
  10. Transform the Outcome – Oath

I found it interesting that the card that represented my personification of this spread was The Altar. This card tends to mean a balance between the divine and yourself, which is the basis of one’s altar. The Altar is the direct interface, according to this deck anyway, between the divine and yourself. It is that physical connection that allows you to develop those relationships in many, many ways.

The reason I found this an interesting card for myself is that, no matter how many times I try to push it away, I keep coming back to that post from TTR, Ma’at Shines Through my Body and how it should relate to the utilization of one’s body as an altar-of-sorts for our gods, for our religion, and everything in between. Based on the card, I am a confluence of the physical and the divine.

The second most interesting card was the card, Between the Worlds. In effect, the card tells you that your vision isn’t clear and that in order to manifest what you want, you must have clarity of thought, clarity of vision, and cut out the distractions so that you can focus on that which you manifest.

The reason this was interesting is that it was low-key calling me out on my bullshit. I have a tendency of saying, “I will do this,” and then just not doing it. I did my Ritual365 last year, but I cut it back, cut it down, and didn’t bother to finish any of the entries I had originally intended on writing last year. Part of that is work and that nonsense, but I could have made more of an effort… which ties into that whole lazy thing I mentioned above.

And that is the crux of my issue, card reading or otherwise: I am a lazy creature. I do not want to do. I want it handed to me if it can be. That doesn’t mean that I won’t, it just means that I will put off until I cannot put it off any longer. Perhaps lazy isn’t the best word for it but that’s what I’ve always assumed it was. (That’s what all the adults told me when I was a kid. But it really goes hand-in-hand with the genetic heritage of sticking one’s head in the sand when big things happen, hoping that they will go away.)

To start, I suppose, I should solidify my vision. I should make a sort of vision board to give me clarity, to focus my desire in a specific arena that I want to flesh out first. But where? I’ve had so many ideas in the last year alone – reading subject matter that has little to do with Kemeticism but explores other avenues of religion so that I can try and figure out where I go from here – that I’m not quite sure which ideas make sense to include and which ones don’t.

I think I’ll just start with writing out the things that I want to include in my practice and see where that leads.

The Twelfth Hour.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

The final hour completes the rebirth and regeneration of the sun and life. “In the freshness of the morning, “the sky is gold, the water lapis lazuli, the earth is strewn with turquoise”. [p 140, Abt & Hornung, Knowledge of the Afterlife.]

The World-Encircler from the previous hour is shown on the ground. It is ready to receive the solar barque with all of the gods and the dead. They travel through the serpent’s spine to be rejuvenated. The Sungod is transformed into the scarab-headed god, Khepri, and is lifted in the horizon by the arms of Shu.

The lower register show the primeval gods of the Ogdoad as they work to assist in the act of creation. They are drawn beside the eight gods of the oars. The final depiction of the final hour ends with a jubilation at the regeneration of both Re and Osiris. Osiris is depicted in mummiform and is attested that while he may have to remain within the netherworld, he is awaiting the next return of the sun.

The Book of Gates

And so finally, we have come to the final hour and the conclusion.

The sun god has finally arrived for his impending rebirth, ready to enter the gateway to the day beyond:

The mystery of sunrise, into which the dead are here inducted, unfolds in several individual scenes, beginning in the upper register with gods who “carry the blazing light,” which is represented concretely by the sun disks in their hands. Stars again prefigure the appearance the sun, while goddesses seated atop serpents surround the solar child.

Before the sun god’s solar barque, A/pep is rendered immobile and tied up. It is depicted to show that it is unable to prevent the upcoming rebirth of the sun from continuing. Behind this, four baboons announce the sun god at the horizon. The lowest register shows symbols of power, crowns specifically, which are to be worn while leaving the netherworld. Isis and Nephthys, symbolized by uraei, guard the final gate.

The conclusion of this book is not divided into registers. The whole course of the sun is condensed into a single image. “Half hidden in the depths, the god Nun raises the solar barque out of the primeval waters, which are indicated by wavy lines. In the barque, the sun, in the form of a soaring scarab beetle, is embraced by Isis and Nephthys, while he betel pushes the sun disk toward the sky goddess Nut, who receives the god Re.” [p64, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife.]

All three of the interior spaces of the cosmos are thus contained in this complex representation: the primeval waters, the height of the heavens, and the depths of the earth (the netherworld). From above and below, arms are stretched toward the sun, arms that hold it and move it through these cosmic spaces, day after day.

The Book of Night

The name of the gateway for this final hour is “She Who Repels the Destructive Ones”. This hour is associated with Nut’s thighs as the sun rolls down towards her feet. The hour itself is named “She Who Sees the Beauty of Re” and the solar barque continues to be towed forward. The guide is another crocodile-headed deity known as, “The Primordial One of the Lower Sky”.

Ma’at stands before Re and offers him up the sign of life, the ankh, to symbolize his rebirth. The solar barque sales upon the primeval waters of the Nun, and it is through these waters that the inundation occurs again, only this time bringing forth the sun into the new day.

Though it may seem as if everyone may attain the moment of rebirth, it is possible that not all will make it even in this hour. Standing in the upper register of this hour is “He Who Causes Enemies to be Forgotten”, ready to ensnare the travelers so that their living memory is forgotten and annihilating all traces of their life.

In the lower register stand “He Who Judged According to His Knowledge”, “He Who Severs Heads”, “Frightening of Face”, and the “Trapper in the Sky”. The nets of the trapper are waiting to trap those who are opposed to the way of the sun-boat, those who may try to stop the solar barque from moving forward into the turbulent final hour of rebirth.

An image of a potter’s wheel is shown near Nut’s vulva. The potter’s wheel stands on a sledge and upon the wheel is a scarab beetle with a stream of liquid coming forth from its head. The liquid flows down toward the hieroglyph for the sky, which is supported by another scarab beetle. Beneath the beetle is a seated child. Kneeling before the potter’s wheel are two gods of the Ogdoad, Huh and Hauhet, the two known as Endlessness.

Beneath Nut’s feet stand Nephthys and Isis, hands held aloft beneath the sun. They are the midwives of this hour, helping to bring forth the sun, supporting the newborn sun when he comes forth from Nut’s body.

Further Reading

  • The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife by Erik Hornung
  • Knowledge for the Afterlife by Theodor Abt and Erik Hornung
  • My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts

The Eleventh Hour.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

The upper register is associated with the mystery of time and with the birth of the hours. The double-headed Sungod is depicted as “Master of Time” gesturing to the two representations for time, Neheh and Djet. Beside this image, Atum holds the wings of a serpent with legs. The following serpent is depicted with stars around its head. The stars represent the night hours.

The middle register shows preparation for the upcoming sunrise. The “World-Encircler,” a giant serpent that is being carried before the solar barque by twelve deities. Isis and Nephthys are shown at the end of this register as Uraeus-serpents that carry the crowns to the Gate of Sais, the eastern gate. They are met by four figures of Neith, who was the goddess of the town of Sais.

The final register is used to prevent any threats that may attempt to stop the rising of the sun. Punishment is used against the condemned who may try to stop the sun from being reborn. They are shown in fiery pits, which are drawn like hills. Several goddesses armed with knives stand before these pits, spitting fire. Behind these pits, the “desert valley of those who are upside down” is shown. “They are decapitated and set on fire, their hearts are torn from their bodies, their heads placed at their feet, their bodies upside down.” [p 132, Abt & Hornung, Knowledge of the Afterlife.]

The Book of Gates

The Eleventh Hour shows A/pep in the upper register. It is bound, dismembered, and rendered completely harmless. The top which it is bound with includes its assistants, and is held by a giant fist. The central imagery of this hour depicts the face of Re as he enters a barque, allowing the deceased to gaze upon him. He is preceded by the stars. The final register both the oarsman of the sun god and the goddesses of time are shown. A few of these deities are already undertaking the job to announce the sun god’s appearance at the horizon in preparation for the next hour.

The Book of Night

The crocodile-headed god called “Gold is God” leads the solar barque through the eleventh hour gateway. This gateway is known as “She Who Protects Her Lord”. This hour is associated with the legs of Nut, and it is in this hour that rebirth truly begins.

At the bottom of this hour, all of the akhu who have been justified appear in their divinized state. Above the solar barque various deities stand guard, bearing names such as, “the One with the Holy Eye”, “the Brilliant One”, “Benben“, and “He Who Loves the Female Unique One”.

Through their service of Osiris the night travellers are now granted the supreme visiion of cosmic rebirth at the eleventh hour in ‘the following of this god’, seeing the radiance of Re and his uraeus companion shining at dawn. Towed by the ‘Unwearyin g Stars’ and guided by “Gold of the Gods’, those in the sun-boat come to see that nothing in the world dies, that death is not destruction but change and becoming, a transmutation of all beings in a recreated world.

Further Reading

  • The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife by Erik Hornung
  • Knowledge for the Afterlife by Theodor Abt and Erik Hornung
  • My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts

The Tenth Hour.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

The upper register shows the cure and protection of the solar eyes. These eyes are marked in red and are cared for by two goddesses. Beside this imagery, we find eight Sekhmet deities (four with human heads) and eight images of Djehuty in monkey-form, holding the restored eye within his hand.

The middle register shows twelve guardians of the solar god who protect him from his enemies. The first four guardians carry an arrow, the next four carry a spear, and the final group of four are shown carrying a bow. The texts indicate that they accompany the Sungod throughout the entire twelve hour journey of the night and during the twelve hours of the day.

The lowest register shows the regenerating water of the Nun. This region is known as “with deep water and high banks”. There are bodies within this watery rectangle floating in various positions until Horus assists them with coming ashore. He prevents them from decomposing although these deceased beings were not provided a standard burial. They share the same fate as Osiris.

Here we have the consoling part of the Amduat, that even those who – by a natural accident – do not have the benefit of ritual preparation for the afterlife are preserved by the divine intervention of Horus.

The Book of Gates

The central imagery of the Tenth Hour shows the battle between A/pep and the gods who fight against it. Fourteen deities hold nets within their grasp, lifted above their heads. Within the nets are magical power and lifting these nets seems to render A/pep immobile and defenseless. A single god, known as the Old One and possibly signifying Geb, ties A/pep up.

The register above and below this central scene show special forms of the sun god’s various manifestations. He appears as a griffin in the upper register, surrounded by two serpent deities who also focus on the attach of A/pep. A single rope connects the figures. The sun god’s form is that of a falcon, though it is referenced as Khepri. “The accompanying text mentions ’emergence’ and stresses that the journey is proceeding towards the sky.” [p. 64, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife.]

The Book of Night

The tenth hour gateway is called “Lady of Fear”. The solar barque is guided through the gateway by a crocodile-headed deity, who is named “Good Fortune of His Mother”. The body parts of Nut that are related to this hour are the vulva, for this is when the rebirth of the new day truly begins.

In the upper register, there are a number of divine beings. One is “The One who Causes Breath”, who knows the secrets of divine utterance. There is also a divine being called “The One who nurtures his Father”. This relates to the Bull of His Mother epithet, meaning that the son has become the father. They have become unified.

When the two are experienced as one, complete and perfect in unity, so the divine nature is realizes whilst traveling onward to the place of dawn and pure light. Such a unity is also recognized in the text of the justified:

Those who adore Re on earth, and those who cense the gods in the Duat, will be in the following of this god.

The lower register shows two identical transfigured or justified ones, wearing the divine beard. These beings have become divine and their mummified bandages have been removed: “Your head-covering has been taken away, your bandages have been undone, and there will be no removal of your bread.” [p 156, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother.] This passage seems to indicate that the mummification process is only needed for the first few hours; once we enter the tenth hour, the soul no longer is necessary for the deceased’s continued existence.

This hour is a place of memory, invoking images of one’s past and name:

During the tenth hour the essence of a person’s existence in experienced in the glorious state of unity reached through the heart. Empowered by memory at this sacred place of birth, the initiate comes to understand the mystery of totality in which all contrasts are subsumed, all opposites dissolved.

Further Reading

  • The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife by Erik Hornung
  • Knowledge for the Afterlife by Theodor Abt and Erik Hornung
  • My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts

You’re Toxic.

Alternate Title: The toxic a-holes of the Kemetic community won.

On the first day of the leadership conference, the second panel was a Q&A panel. They do these to break up the 30 – 50 minute talks along with the breaks. The Q&A panels are usually pretty good, but my team and I were especially looking forward to this one because the topic was toxic work environments. After a year of having to deal with just that very thing, we were very interested in what Bozoma Saint John had to say on the topic.

After the session, we could all agree that the panel would have been better if she had been able to speak freely. She would begin to go down a specific rabbit hole related to the topic and the host would gently nudge her back to the primary topic, or force her to go off into other directions when we were interested in what she had to say on what she had just been talking about.

I also really enjoyed her energy. She was… vivacious and she grabbed your attention. As I was taking notes and processing what she had to say, I kind of got the feeling that no matter what Bozoma was talking about, everyone would have been entranced by her subject matter.

The reason she was invited to speak on this particular subject was because Bozoma went to work as the Chief Brand Officer at Uber. She had heard some of the horror stories of what was going on in 2017 for the company, which was having a bit of a bad year. After hearing what was going on over there, she left her position as a marketing executive at Apple Music to go to Uber in the hopes of helping turn the company around.

While I don’t know much about Uber or its current state, it kind of sounds like she wasn’t as successful as she had hoped. It sounds like the toxic environment of the company was all pervasive and while she made some changes, there were more people stuck in their ways than there were people willing to make the change.

power plant

When we think about the culture of a workplace, we start to think that the overall dynamic is created by the HR department or the CEO’s office. But that is a misnomer. The culture of one’s work environment can be found first in your cubicle or work station, and next in the cubicle or work station beside you. The CEO and the people of the HR department are, of course, part of this but it isn’t their rules or regulations that necessarily create a toxic or not-toxic work culture: it is the attitudes of the people that make up the company as a whole.

The problem is that a toxic work environment typically is created because there are multiple people coming at things from a completely different point of view or basis of an idea. Instead of everyone being on the same page about X, Y, Z thing, they all come at it from different directions.

Just like a school of fish, everyone in a work place need to swim in the same direction and together. When you have multiple fish going in a million different directions, it causes chaos. And this in turn will cause issues across the whole school, or in reality, within the work environment.

While competition between coworkers can be healthy as it can promote new ideas and growth, this doesn’t mean that people should be pitted against one another. Worker 1 and Worker 2 who have the exact same title and position would work better together as opposed to working against each other in the hopes of being recognized for one reason or another. They would be able to go further and make the job better for themselves and by extension, for the other people at that work place, if they are allowed to bolster up one another and work together towards a common goal.

Another way to ensure that the work environment is not-toxic is to ensure that you are empowering those who need it. Bolster up coworkers on a bad day, on a good day. Whenever and wherever you see a need for empowerment, give it to them. Work is hard and tiring for everyone more often than not and we need to be willing to bolster up others to promote a healthy and happy work place for everyone.

As the Q&A panel progressed, the hosted asked Bozoma what were three things that can make a work environment better for everyone. Her answer was:

  1. Empathize.
  2. Diversity.
  3. Inclusion.

You have to be willing to empathize with others; not sympathize but to have empathy for your coworkers and the situations that they are in. If you look at a situation and fail to empathize with the person in that situation, you are cutting yourself off from them. This can and will cause work place issues in future, which will only snowball from there.

You have to have diversity within your work environment. Everyone must be invited to your workplace. Whether its an after-work get-together or the workplace itself, diversity helps to promote growth, positive change, and everything else you want to see in the place that you spend at least 40 hours of your life in every week.

You have to be inclusive for everyone. There can be no us vs. them, or me vs. the whole in a workplace. There must be inclusion for everyone. As Bozoma indicated, it’s like going to a school dance and standing on the sidelines, waiting for someone to ask you to dance. You’ll begin to feel badly if you continue to sit it out. You have to join and the other works have to allow you to join in order to make the work environment a good one for all parties.

The last thing that was discussed before the panel came to an end, albeit briefly, was branding. This is something that TTR has already discussed and I won’t be doing the post justice by either summarizing or rehashing it. But the point is that Bozoma indicated that branding is everything – just like TTR’s opening statement on their post – and that branding must also include the internal work culture of the company.

If the company is toxic, but you’re trying to brand it to look like it’s a good placed to work, you’re promoting dissatisfaction and lying to potential employees. Word will get out that this isn’t a good place, no matter what the branding online will tell you, and you’ll lose both potential and current workers. It’s better to ensure that the internal work environment has been cleaned of its toxic veneer in every way possible so that you can be the branding that you’ve put out into the world. This will attract the right type of people for the jobs available and promote growth of the company, which benefits everyone.

Brand

When I was listening to Bozoma discuss toxic culture in the work place, it is little wonder that I first thought of our Kemetic community. We have had a lot of problems in recent years. Some of it is simple growing pains – the more people who say they are a part of the community, the more problems are going to arise because of a variety of things. It’s a people thing. But beyond simple disagreements about how to do something or the way to go about introducing yourself to the gods, there have been Bigger Problems. Our community went toxic as hell and we never really recovered from it.

No matter how hard we try to make a welcoming community, there will always be people who get sucked into the racism problem that is prevalent within various pagan and polytheism communities. And as they slip down that rabbit hole, they change to fit the dynamic that their racist circle requires or desires to see in them. This will continue to happen as long as racism continues to be a problem within our communities.

Sometimes you can educate those people out of those circles, but as we’ve seen in our community with its issues, educating others tends to have them doubling down on their problematic rhetoric because “the loss of privilege often feels like oppression”. There will be people who can learn beyond what they’ve either been raised to believe about racism, or have been re-educated to believe about racism, and there are those who prefer their power and comfort over everything and everyone else.

We must be willing to understand that not everyone is going to be willing to examine themselves and their privilege. And if that is the way that they want to be, then we must do everything we can to police them, to make it difficult for them and their ideas to proliferate in the community. We must be willing to point out their wrong-doings, warn new people away from them, and everything else that we must do to ensure our community doesn’t turn toxic again. We must make it difficult for their shit to continue unabated; we must make them unwelcome and unwilling to continue to gain the foothold they are hoping to have.

The problem is that we all saw warning signs. I know that I did. I know that TTR did. I can remember having private discussions on what to do when we saw concerning behavior begin to manifest in various discussions. When we finally started pointing out the problematic behavior, it seemed to cause more headache than do much because there were so few of us willing to police it.

And I can understand why not everyone was willing to do anything about it. It can take a form of bravery that not everyone has, but part of the problem is that there were so few of us willing to speak up, to speak out. With so few of us willing to stand up and say, “no, this isn’t okay,” it became easy for the problematic people to simply block us. We couldn’t speak up unless we took the time to screenshot shitty behavior.

If a community is what is desired, then everyone has to be willing to think to the three points Bozoma made and do what needs to be done to see it happen:

  • Empathize.

One shouldn’t be capable of empathy for a racist piece of trash. I’m going to throw that gauntlet down now. You can pity them for their misinformation and just generally being wrong, but you should not be able to empathize with them. They have no legs to stand on and therefore, as far as we as a community should be concerned, we cannot and will not attempt to see things from their point of view in any context.

It is more important that the minority members of our community be safe than the privileged and racist few who demand the same sort of “respect” that they see us give others. It is the minority members of our communities who should have our empathy, not the assholes who preach hate either overtly or subversively.

And it is the privileged person’s job, through the empathy we should all have with our minority, to speak over the racist pieces of trash in our community and refuse them a platform to speak from. If that means we get blocked, then so be it. We must make the racists as uncomfortable and unwelcome as humanly possible to ensure that the people who we need and want in our community are safe from that shit.

  • Diversity.

We want to invite everyone – except racists – to the party. Everyone should be able to join us. Whether we agree with all of their ideas about what things are, or how things are defined, we want to extend an invitation to everyone that we want to see in our community. We cannot simply be a white, cisgendered person’s home away from home: everyone should be able to jump into the water and be able to stay. They should all feel comfortable and welcomed.

  • Inclusion.

And in the same vein, we want to ensure that everyone – except racists – feel as if they were invited to the dance. We don’t want anyone to feel like they don’t belong. A newcomer will already feel overwhelmed with all of the resources and 101s that we’ve put out there. We don’t want them to feel like they shouldn’t be willing to post in our tags and be able to get helpful, thoughtful, and kind responses in return.

Thursday - 042210 - Day 61

I know this is long, but for those of us who have stayed with me, thanks.

The community fractured because of the toxic environment it became and it has never recovered. We’ve all seen it.

The content creators are tired of the same old shit and tired of creating. The people who see shitty behavior going on openly in the tags aren’t willing to speak up about it. The new people who joined us after or during the toxic foothold in our community learned to keep quiet and to keep to the shadows, not posting in the shared tags, because it was too easy to get their content derailed by inter-community fighting or policing. The behaviors of the few continue to negatively impact a place that all of us are constantly looking for: a place to call home when it comes to our religious paths.

The toxic assholes won.

Our community broke down and we haven’t done a damn thing to fix it. Some of that is because we’re tired of fighting and policing. Some of that is because life gets in the way and we have things to do. Some of that is because people left, not willing to step a toe into our shitty environment considering the shit that was going on when shit was going down. Some of that is because people are scared to speak up. Some of that is because some people are just selfish.

Whatever the reason, we need to cut the shit and think critically when it comes to our community:

  1. Do you want to be a part of this community?
  2. Are you willing to speak up about concerns you have?
    1. Or. Are you willing to point out problematic behavior or call someone out if the need arises?
    2. Or. If you are worried about calling someone out, are you willing to say something to someone who isn’t worried about calling shit out?
  3. Will you be able to help out the prolific content creators and put things out there?

If you can answer yes to these questions, awesome. Welcome aboard. If you can’t, then maybe it’s better if you go before the going gets rough [again]. This may sound harsh, but if community is what is wanted, it means that you have to put the hard work in and continue to put it in. But everyone has to do their fair share. You can’t rely on the few to do it all; we all have to partake and be willing to do what needs to be done.

Otherwise, there is literally no point in trying.

Related Content

Note: While I am specifically addressing the racism that was prevalent from the toxic shitheads that made our community anathema to many, please note that they also partook in sexist, ableist, and other shitty behaviors. While I may not specifically state that, please know that it is true and that we also must ensure that shit doesn’t get a foothold in our community either.

The Ninth Hour.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

The central imagery of this hour shows the crew of the solar barque, which are depicted in the middle register of this hour. There are twelve oarsmen shown. In front of them, there are three idols which are in charge of the provisioning of the dead with bread and beer.

The lower register also depicts gods that are associated with the provisioning of the deceased. These gods are the Field Gods and they hold large stalks of grain in their hands. They “cause all the trees and all the plants to be created.” [p 112, Abt & Hornung, Knowedge for the Afterlife.]

Behind the Field Gods, there are fire-spitting Uraeus serpents depicted sitting above the hieroglyph for cloth or fabric. These serpents are “those who spit fire for Osiris with the flame in their mouth… They are those who illuminate the darkness…” [p 112, Abt & Hornung, Knowedge for the Afterlife.]

The Book of Gates

The central imagery of the Ninth Hour shows the barque within a rectangle of water with images of drowned people within. The water represents the Nun and those adrift within the primeval water being refreshed by the regenerative properties of the water. Ra is depicted within, also taking in the renewal properties of the Nun.

The upper register shows a group of ba-souls who are being given bread and vegetables by people within the scene. The lower register depicts punishments for the enemies against Re. The Fiery One, a giant serpent with the Children of Horus standing upon its coils, spew fire at the enemies. Horus condemns these pictured enemies for what they have committed against his father.

The Book of Night

The gateway of the ninth hour is named “She Whose Flame is Painful.” The solar barque is guided forward by “This Ba“. The hour is related to Nut’s intestines, “the place in the body where food is digested and non-assimilable elements rejected.” [p153, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother]

The ninth hour celebrates the shining countenance of Osiris and those who have been transfigured: “O shining rampart, hear the words of the underworld dwellers. Tend to the needs of those who are in the Duat.” [p150, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother].

Sia commands all beings within this hour, directing them forward. Those who have been transfigured have been ordered to come forth from the inundation waters to receive their offerings. Those who have been transfigured heartily reply to Sia that they have done no harm while within the confines of the Duat. Sia also indicates that all wrong-doers will not be able to see the light of Osiris.

 

Further Reading

  • The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife by Erik Hornung
  • Knowledge for the Afterlife by Theodor Abt and Erik Hornung
  • My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts

Be Kind; Please Rewind.

Alternate Title: The Kemetic community needs to re-embrace “don’t be a dick”.

One of the presenters during the leadership conference was Bear Grylls. My office just about lost it when they found out he was going to be presenting this year. I didn’t understand why everyone was so excited about it. To that point, my total knowledge of him was that he had a show about being outside (I have since learned he has had 3 shows about that subject). My coworkers kept going on about how excited they were to hear from him.

As his segment came up, I was mildly distracted by the sun glare on the snow behind him. He kept squinting at the camera and I had an urge to give him my sunglasses. But when he spoke, everyone quieted down to the point where you could hear a pin drop. I was finally beginning to understand why people gave this man a show. He evinced a sort of charisma that left you waiting for what he would say next.

Fear

The presentation that Bear gave was about what he called the Four Fs. These Four Fs were supposed to be in regard to leadership, but as I listened to him discuss them in detail and relate each word back to his own experiences, it was obvious that everyone has come into contact with these Four Fs throughout their lives. The Four Fs are:

  • Failure

Everyone experiences failure at some point in their lives. No one enters into something and immediately gets it on the first try, the eighth try, the one hundreds try. Failure is a part of the human condition, a part of being human at its most basic level. Sometimes the failure is a large one and leaves you wounded from it; sometimes the failure is something small and easily overcome. Failure is something that everyone has experienced and these failures have helped to forge people into the person that they are today.

As much as we may want to deny the moments where we have failed at something, especially the more dramatic flops in our life, we must come to the realization that more often than not, a failure is teaching us. It may teach us how to do something better the next time we come into contact with it, or it may be teaching us that what we thought we wanted isn’t actually right for us. Don’t deny the fact that you failed; embrace it because these failures will be more, often than not, a doorway leading you forward.

  • Fear

No matter what we have gone through in our lives, we have come across fear. It has found us in the dead of night; in the middle of a meeting; as you write a post on the Internet. It lurks around every corner and everyone has had some experience with this feeling. Life as a whole is scary; it is an unknown thing that we all experience and sometimes, we can experience it with other people. Sometimes, we can hold hands with someone beside us and let the feeling of fear wash over us. And sometimes, there is no one there to help you through it.

Everyone is fighting something; everyone is fearful of something. Sometimes we must embrace that fear and continue over the other side of it. There are moments where, no matter how much your instincts may be telling you to turn tail and run, you have to keep going through that moment with fear walking beside you. Face it; use it; embrace it. Take the energy of your fear and use it to keep moving forward. It isn’t a dark moment, not truly, when you stand beside your fear and have to keep going. As the Litany Against Fear says, “I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.”

  • Fire

Everyone has a furnace of fire burning deep within them; a steam engine that keeps them going; a wood-burning stove deep within. This is the drive, the push, the desire to move forward and keep going. This fire may be dampened or darkened because of illness, but it is still there. It pushes people forward and keeps them going even when they don’t want to keep going. Sometimes you have to stoke the flames and sometimes other must stoke it, but the furnace is lit and will continue to burn.

Some people claim that they have none, but that is not true. Everyone has a fire burning deep within; it may be tamped down or hidden, but it is there. You must find it and use it so that you can keep going. Don’t listen to the voices within or without that may be telling you it’s dead and gone; keep looking. As Bear Grylls said, “N.G.U. – never give up.” Or as Galaxy Quest has taught us all, “Never give up; never surrender.”

  • Faith

Everyone has faith. The faith may be in themselves; it may be for other people; it may be in what they’re doing; it may be for a higher power. It doesn’t matter what the cornerstone of that faith is but it is there, deep within. It can be used as the cornerstone or a slab of concrete to build up and outwards, but it is there. It isn’t simply a voice within telling you to keep going; it is a belief and trust that what you are doing is the right thing.

People may complain and say that people use it as a crutch, but it doesn’t matter. That blind trust, that faith, helps to stoke the fire, to face the fear, to admit and embrace the failure. It is the alpha and omega within everyone. It may start off as small and simple, but it can be built up to encompass the totality of the path ahead, a baseline to continue forward.

The one common thread between them all was the thread of kindness, a need for it. The kindness exhibited could be for others or yourself. But it is paramount to show kindness. Acts of kindness were woven through each story associated with each word and it became the overarching theme.

We all face these things, or have gone through these things, or are going through these things. It is imperative to understand that no one is alone in this. We have all experienced failures; we have all faced our fears; we have all stoked the flames of our inner fire; we have all kept going because of faith. Everyone has gone through this, no matter what the path ahead has looked like for each individual.

We must all understand that the path ahead is an individual path; no two are alike. But we have all experienced or are actively experiencing any one of these things at any given time. And it is with both humility and kindness that we can keep going and by extension, others can keep going.

Be kind to others; be kind to yourself. As we all go through failures and fears and fire and faith, it is kindness that helps to see us through. It is kindness to ourselves that reminds us that we are imperfect beings who are navigating through; it is kindness from others that can keep us going for one more hour, one more day, one more possible failure ahead.

The entire presentation was worth the watch, but it was the bit about kindness that stuck out for me because he was right. Kindness for yourself and kindness for others is paramount to success, paramount to continue on. If we cannot be kind to either ourselves or others, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

kindness.

Something I have found lacking in the community is simple kindness. After TTR announced their hiatus, I went through the conversations we had had about the issues they were finding and began scoping out popular posts in the tags. And something that I kept seeing over and over again was this seemingly brusque persona that everyone had crafted for themselves. I suspect that this is a result of a two-fold problem: the toxicity within our community from a few years back and the exhaustion the prolific content creators tend to fall into after a few years.

As I mentioned in my post about TTR taking a hiatus, it can be exhausting when it’s your name being thrown out there the most and people keep asking for the same types of content or more new content. If you’re the only one giving out the information, then it wears you down until you can’t be kind to anyone anymore. You get jaded from all of the wear-and-tear that being a content creator brings with it and no matter how hard you try, it’s hard to find the benefit of the doubt and therefore, hard to find kindness.

When the community broke down, we all began doing our best to embody a little bit of Squidward in our online life. We needed to protect ourselves from the eventual break down of what we had worked hard for. We needed to distance ourselves from the inevitable explosion because it hurt too much to keep caring otherwise.

So everyone who has been around for that long has kind of started to come across a bit brusque when they respond to things and I think it’s a problem. We need to pull back from those parts of ourselves, the parts that we created to save ourselves from burnout or the burn down, and get back to kindness. We need to try and find the benefit of the doubt and we need to think critically when we respond to one another, to new people asking the usual 101 questions, and to outsiders just trying to understand.

I talked a bit about this last year after the last leadership conference I went to: it’s difficult to read tone when your community doesn’t have the ability or desire to be anything more than an online forum-type. It means that you have to sit back and ask yourself if the words you are choosing come across as rude, as ill-tempered, or flat our dick-like.

This is something that comes up for me a lot at work. As I mentioned in that post last year, the majority of my communication is through email. We have calls and talk to people, too, but I would say about 95% of my day is spent in front of a computer. And I can’t tell you how many times I hear complaints from my team about someone “being rude” or “being a dick” when that person is simply responding to something we sent them.

And you know what? When someone says that they got a “rude” response, it is almost always bias. It is a fear that they are coming from a place where they are wrong or a place of anxiety. The tone that they’re reading into the response isn’t there most of the time. It comes across that way because the person responding is trying to be as quick as possible in their response, which means they’re cutting out the fluff to get to the heart of the matter.

It makes things go by quickly, but it doesn’t necessarily mean things are going smoothly.

We do this within our community, too. We try to be quick and efficient, but sometimes you need to add in the flowery, the little kindnesses so that you don’t come across as rude or a dick. It’s a fine line that we walk, but if this community is going to grow as I would like it to and as others seem to want it to, then we need to remember how to not be a dick.

Over five years ago, TTR wrote about this very concept too. It wasn’t framed in a need for kindness, but in the need to embody the phrase “don’t be a dick”. They gave some handy hints on how to not come across that way. We need to go back to that. We need to sit still and think critically before we hit publish or reply. We need to refer back to the “yardstick of dickery” and try to remember that a little kindness can go a long way.

If we don’t, we’re as good as dead. All the chatter and discussion about content and creating it goes out the window if we can’t be nice to each other, or even to ourselves. We need to be kind. We don’t need to take shit, but we at least need to be kind.

Good Enough.

Alternative Title: The Kemetic Community needs to up its content game.

This past week, I attended a leadership conference through my job. This is the second year that I’ve gone and as a result, there will be a few posts based on things I learned about at the conference. As always, as I listened to the various leaders from various countries and background present, I took studious notes, not necessarily for myself, but because I wanted to take what I was learning and use that to help the wider community.

TTR is right – the community does need to do better. And if that means I can impart, perhaps, some form of wisdom to one person at the very right time because I spent two days wearing uncomfortable clothes watching people talk about leadership? Then, I’m fine with that. I’ll go next year and the year after until I finally can go no more because I have died or because I am no longer with this company.

Create

The first presenter talked to us about cost benefit analyses. For those of you who work in certain businesses, like I do, those three words make sense to you. You may have even had to do one or two at work or maybe at home to determine if the cost of something would benefit you or your job or a project in the long run. While the phrase tends to pop up more in investment circles, an analysis of this type can be utilized in many different environments and for many different things.

Recently, someone on my team had completed a review for a site to see if it made sense to make some technological changes for them. As it stood, we found that if we could make the changes we were recommending, we could actually bring back a total savings of about $2500 a year. That’s a really good savings we could bring them and we were all about it.

But as we went forward with this project, we soon learned that there were other factors beyond what we had already studied that put the project into jeopardy. In order to make the tech changes we were recommending, we found that the site would require close to $2000 worth of work to make it ready and capable of accepting our changes.

The cost of the work we needed done to get them to where we needed to make our changes would eat up almost an entire year’s worth of savings. The costs that we were asking for didn’t outweigh the benefit of making the changes we recommended. So, we pulled the plug on the project.

This happens at my job periodically. A client will have an idea that sounds excellent on paper, but we have to help them to see whether or not there is a benefit in proceeding. Sometimes there is a benefit and we don’t find any extraneous costs as we complete our analysis; sometimes we find that the costs are high but so too are the benefits so we move forward; and sometimes there isn’t a benefit and we scrap the project in its entirety.

Now, in the presentation, the presenter had a little graph and his example was the time he spent on one of his speeches or sermons (he’s a pastor). I did my best to recreate it above.

As you can see from the example, if he spends 3 hours of time on something, he can get a decent way up as far as quality is concerned on the graph. He indicated that at this time frame, maybe his sermon or speech was at 75% on the quality scale. He knows he can get it better if he spends a little more time on it, so he does so and gets to the second dot on the graph, which he indicated was probably about 90% or so. If he spends more time on it, the quality of his speech or sermon would more than likely significantly start to decrease and bring the quality back down to the third dot, or what he indicated was probably like 80%.

The point that he spent a decent amount of time talking about was that dot after 5 hours spent, or what he indicated was about 90%. This point was what he called the G.E.T.M.O. point. (I literally thought he said Gitmo the first time he said it out loud and was very happy when he explained what he was actually saying). The G.E.T.M.O. point is the Good Enough To Move On point. This is the highest point you will achieve as far as quality and time spent, so it’s time to put the speech or sermon down and move on with your life.

Too often, people get stuck in this idea that the more time you spend on something, the better the quality. Nine times out of ten that is not true. Much like the bell curve that teachers and professors grade students on, there is a declination point on a cost benefit analysis. The difference being that after a certain amount of cost, the quality of the product, the project, the whatever it is will start to decrease.

Let me tell you a story.

I have a ton of drafts in my blog’s draft bin. I have about 20 right now and some of them go as far back as 2013. I had ideas and I wanted to work on those ideas, to get things out there that I felt needed to be spoken on. My issue is that after 6 years of working on some of those drafts that started in 2013, I have found myself frustrated and irritated with the overall point. I’ve scrapped and re-scrapped the entries so many times over the years that they no longer look like what I had originally envisioned. And frankly, they’re still drafts because they’re just not good.

I should have gotten the drafts to the GETMO point and pressed publish. Instead, I hit save and kept going back to it over and over again until I hated everything that I typed, hated everything that I had said and re-said and re-phrased. Those posts will probably never see the light of day because now, years later, I can’t even remember what the fuck I really wanted to say so the GETMO point has long since disappeared.

I suspect that my story above may sound familiar to some people. Perhaps they had an idea that they wanted to get out and into the world, perhaps to have others comment on or perhaps just to get it seen for future content from someone who was bitten by the bug to write about it. But maybe they hit save instead of publish and now that post will never see the light of day because it doesn’t look good after hours, weeks, months, or years of trying.

If I do it as a person who has tried diligently to bring content to the wider community, then I have very little doubt that there are others out there who have done the same. Or maybe someone has toyed with the idea but assumed they would never even get it to the GETMO point and jettisoned the idea of writing it in the first place.

November-Blues 2

The Kemetic community suffers from a lack of content creators (oh, boy, finally at the point of this post, eh?). Part of this is because of the breakup of the wider community whenever that was: 2015? 2016? Content creators came down on both sides of the split and that meant that the people who were creating before had to create that much more to fill the void. The problem being that more content creators didn’t fill the void.

As someone who was one of those content creators, it is very tiring to sit down and right a post when you know that it more than likely won’t go anywhere. Sometimes your brain turns on you and asks why bother? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down at my laptop to write something and eventually deleted it because I talked myself out of it.

But even with that, I knew that there were ideas and thoughts that I needed to get out there. I would see TTR banging away at content and trying to get people to interact, to think, to come up with their own ideas and I did my best to emulate that with what I had available. But the interaction and follow up that we had once seen happen frequently seemed to dry up. Fewer and fewer were posting their own content or responses to our content and it began to feel very much like we were talking into the void (still does actually).

I can tell you that when I first started this blog nine years ago, I wasn’t writing for anyone but me. I didn’t care if people saw what I said. I didn’t care what the hell the wider community was doing. I needed a place to write down my thoughts and ideas, to figure out what worked and what didn’t while I explored my Kemetic path. When I started to network, I cared a bit more about putting out content because I was Having Ideas and I wanted to share those Ideas with People.

Whether those Ideas panned out or even went beyond a few conversations wasn’t the point necessarily. I wasn’t writing them down simply to write them down. I was hoping to have someone read it, get bitten by the Idea, and move it forward or rework it or maybe say it sucked from start to finish. The hope was that eventually another future content creator would see it and do with it what they would.

I have watched the community silently pack up shop seemingly on the idea of good content. Part of it is no doubt fear. “The thing I want to write is stupid.” Or maybe it’s a fear that assholes are going to do what they do best on the post in question and be assholes. Sure, those are valid fears. But you shouldn’t let them get in your way.

Write the post.

Write the ritual.

Write the rubric.

Write the hymn.

And then hit the word publish instead of save or delete.

Get it out there. Forge ahead on the path that you want to create for yourself, but let others see it.

If they see you making the posts that you want to see, I can assure you that someone, somewhere will see that and get an idea based on what you say. Or they’ll have a response post that they make to what you were originally saying. Or it will shove them into a niche area that they research and put out the content of what they found when they looked into it.

Yes, it’s a terrifying prospect. It is wholly possible that the thing you worked on to its GETMO point gets flipped and destroyed, no longer looking in any way like what you had hoped it would be. It is possible people will dogpile on it and try to shout you down. All of this is possible; absolutely. But that doesn’t mean that what you have in your mind doesn’t need to be said.

Look. We are all of us a long line of Dominoes ready to be pushed over, but only if that one finger pushes the first one over. And the only way to get shoved over is if you write the post and hit publish instead of talking yourself out of it. So go out there, get your idea to the GETMO point, and hit publish.

(Please note: the presenter referred to above is Craig Groeschel. I am in no way affiliated with him or his church. I just find some of what he says on leadership interesting.)