Kemetic Round Table: Hush-Hush.

When people start looking to other religious choices outside of the “usual fair,” there’s a lot of waffling back and forth about whether or not this is a thing. Not only are people worried that what they’re looking into may not actually be in their best interests, but they also have to take into consideration public opinion. Even though, in my opinion, religion and religious choices should be a private affair that’s taken into consideration on an individual basis, this isn’t the case in this country or in this hemisphere or on this fucking planet. Everyone has an opinion, sadly, about everything else and that includes religious persuasions. What makes it worse is that some of the newer religious choices are looked down on by other people for various reasons: some people think that they’re worshiping the devil and going to hell while other people think everyone with a religion is full of shit and making stuff up. In either case, these are things that must be taken into consideration when it comes to choosing what sort of religious practice, or not, is best for them.

This pretty much accurately represents this post in its entirety.

This pretty much accurately represents this post in its entirety.

Personally, I am both in and out of the “closet,” so to speak, when it comes to my religious practices. The short answer is that all of this is really fucking complicated and it comes on a case by case basis. I’ve been burned and I’ve been supportive, so it is truly dependent both on the status of my relationships with people as well as what reactions I believe they may have if I discuss it.

When it comes to family, I’m technically out. I don’t really discuss it with either my family or with TH’s family, however. It’s a subject of conversation, briefly, when it comes up, but I tend to shut those conversations down as quickly as they begin. I think part of this is because, in all honesty, to explain everything to a regular person is very difficult. Polytheism is easily explained as long as you understand what that word actually means. But when it comes to the devotions to various gods, the levels of those devotions, and everything in between, one can be looking at having a few hours’ long conversation that leaves heads spinning. Another reason why I tend to shut those conversations down is because I can see how some people react or based on inflection in their comments – if they sound like an asshole, I’m not going to want to discuss it any more than I normally do (and I don’t normally want to discuss it because, again, it’s kind of personal and not anyone else’s business).

My mother’s family is not supportive of my choices – they’re all staunch Catholics and so, as far as they’re [probably] concerned, I’m going to burn in Hell with all the other people who have chosen not to follow “the one twoo.” But my mother is supportive. She is ecstatic that after years of saying “I’m an atheist,” I finally found a religious tradition that works for me. She’s watched as I’ve changed dynamics and created something that works for me. I think, honestly, it’s based on my mom’s statement, “finally, you have faith,” that made me realize that the subject matter of that faith doesn’t matter so much as if people have faith. And I do. I believe. I believe in more than just myself and while things are weird and rocky and can be uncomfortable when my family makes asinine comments about it, it’s fucking mine.

TH’s family doesn’t really understand how many different branches of paganism there are and I don’t have the patience, usually, to enlighten them. They understand that I am a pagan and that I do practice magic (heka), however they don’t fully comprehend all the dynamic changes, on a personal level and on a spiritual level, that have happened since I first discovered this path. But at the end of the day, they’re supportive. They might make jokes and TH’s mom may end up using me as a threat against her students to behave properly (she told one student I would turn them into a frog if they didn’t cut the shit, which I’m just like, I can’t do that but that’s fucking awesome especially since the student actually did cut the shut). Of course, TH is aware because I do [occasionally] talk to him about this.

But when it comes down to it, I still have this staunch belief that who says what or who knows what doesn’t matter. All that does matter is if it makes me happy. And as much as I have to admit that this shit drives me up a wall with the wants and desires and the constant doubt, at the end of the day, it fulfills me.

And then I have so many different types of friendships that to discuss something that, to me, is as personal as my religious practice is is just not up for debate. I have acquaintances who have asked to read this blog and I have flatly refused, knowing that my blog may not be the best introduction to what a pagan religious tradition can look like. I have had Christian friends who read this blog and grew offended over what I said. (We’ve made up since that blow up, but we both leave one another alone when it comes to our differing faiths now, which is seriously downer.) I have pagan friends who know about this blog, but don’t know much about my personal life.

I guess you can say that when it comes to my friendships and how open I am about myself really depends, highly, on how much trust I place in them. And I have to be honest here. After having the person who was supposed to me the best get up in arms over things that I’ve written on this blog, based on my observations and based on my religious choices, I have to say that compartmentalizing my life like this works out for me. Does it suck? Yes. Ask anyone on Tumblr who I have spoken with about this – sometimes, there are just moments where I want to cry in someone’s lap because I’m pretty sure I’m not practicing a real religion but I’m just having taken a long walk off of the short pier of sanity. But I’ve been burned by the person I trusted and loved the most – and learned the lesson that compartmentalization with my friends is better off for me when it comes to our friendships than not doing so.

Of course, I have two friends, locally, who know a lot about what I believe in. One is a local Hellenic pagan. We don’t really talk as much as we used to and that’s… well, that’s nothing to do with religion but she knows what I’m up to. And if she doesn’t that’s only because she’s not reading this blog. My other friend allows me to wax poetic about the nature of souls and takes my spiritual advice even though she’s a Christian, but she is just like me: it doesn’t matter what faith is had as long as faith is had.

And of course, to make things even more complicated, I work for a Tea Party Republican who also just so happens to be very much a Christian. I honestly don’t know how Christian she is but she’s told people that she’ll pray for them when things go wrong (and then maybe she does, but I don’t know). And I can tell you that if she knew that the ankh I wear wasn’t just a fashion statement but a religious statement as well, she’d find a reason to fire me. The things she says about people who aren’t Christian (and I’m not talking about pagans, but about Muslims) is disgusting and disheartening. The things I could imagine her saying about me if she were to find out… Well, I need the paycheck so I have further compartmentalized my life.

Work. Friends. Family. Religion.

Very rarely do any of these in-roads meet. Yes, I am “out” and my Facebook profile even labels me as a “pagan.” But the people who are friends with me on Facebook, most of them, don’t look at that. Some of them because they like to ignore things – such as my mother’s family – and others because they don’t care and I’m not going to enlighten them. I’m a little open on my Facebook account regarding beliefs and whatnot, but I always second guess and third guess before I post something religion specific. As much as it sucks, and it really does, my life is a many-spoked wheel with me at the middle. And nothing really touches at all.

In case I haven’t really mentioned it, while doing things this way makes life easier and safer for me, it really kind of sucks. There are moments, at work, where I want to scream at Djehuty for not watching over a phone system when it goes down. Or, I want to meditate to Sekhmet, but instead, I’m stuck silently saying words that may or may not have power, depending on the spoon allotment and energy reserves I have at that moment in time. There are moments where I want to scream at my mother’s family and tell them that all beliefs are good beliefs as long as they’re taken to a good place and not used to condemn others for what they feel, think, believes, or are. There are moments in my life where I just want to scream because of how compartmentalized my life has suddenly become when even two years ago, it was hella easier.

I tend to feel, a lot of times, that this segregation is actually detrimental to everything going on around me. I can’t really pinpoint when I started to feel this way, but I noticed that carefully and purposely dosing out different portions of my life in this way began to tire me out. I would go off and be at work, followed by coming home and doing religion things and then I would spend time with my family and never the multitudes to meet. And I have to admit that it’s kind of dragging, a lot, to have to keep things so differentiated. It sucks. And I think a lot of times making sure that everything is not touching as carefully as I do, it takes a lot of spoons out of everything else. It leaves me breathless and bitchy and tired and depressed a lot of the times and I end up coming home and just staring at the television or reading a book.

I don’t think people are really meant to do this to their lives. Even if there are valid reasons for it, I just don’t think we’re made to keep anything separate from anything else. We are a multifaceted people and facets should touch. They should integrate. But in this day and age, especially with asshole bosses or unsupportive family members, we have to do these things, possibly even to our own detriment, if we want to have our cake and eat it too. (If that is even remotely apropos here because I honestly don’t know.)

Based on what I’ve shared, I have to say that if a new Kemetic wants to tell others, I strongly recommend not doing what the fuck I’ve done. I’ve kept myself so separated that I hardly know what the fuck way is up anymore. So, if anyone wants to tell their friends and family and their coworkers what their religious situation is – not that, I attest, it’s any of their fucking business – then I think that not doing what I’ve done is a good idea. It’s seriously just not healthy, in my opinion, and it ends up causing a lot of problems for you later on.

But the thing about telling people is that you have to be sure that telling them is even remotely useful to you or whether or not them knowing has any benefit to you whatsoever. You can shout whatever the hell you want from the rooftops and back, but if there’s no real point in telling them, other than you think you should, then you have to seriously taken into consideration the reasons behind why you want to tell them. Do you just want to share something new and exciting with people you care about? Or do you want to shock them? What is the point in telling them something that, quite feasibly, will not impact them in anyway? So, it comes back to having to decide of announcing your personal religious choices is useful to you. If you think that’s the case, then I think the next thing to take into consideration is whether or not they’ll be supportive.

And this is the crux of the matter for many pagans out there. We live in areas that aren’t supportive of anything outside of “the norm,” whatever that is. And there are people who we love and adore who may react very negatively towards whatever choices we make in our lives if those choices are deemed to be outside of “the norm,” whatever that is. So, if the person you believe you are telling will be supportive and benefit you, then I absolutely think that you should move forward with what you want to do. However, if the person is going to behave like an asshole because you’ve made a choice about your life, then maybe keeping it quiet is in your best interest. As much as you may feel that telling them is a good idea, if they’re going to be a complete dickface about it, then I strongly recommend just not doing so.

Honestly, I have to tell you that when it comes to telling people things about you that, in my opinion, are personal and private, such as one’s religious decisions, doesn’t really gain you much. Hell, in my experience, it seems to have caused more anxiety than when I was quiet about it. Just because you think someone will be supportive and nice about it doesn’t mean that they will be. Or maybe they’ll start off that way and then change their mind later because you say something they disagree with or because they convert to a religion that doesn’t tolerate others’ “differences.” While I can’t say that all people are going to react the way I’ve come to find many to most of them reacting in my life, I do have to think that what I’ve experienced (as generalized as I’ve described the experiences) should at least be taken into consideration when someone decides they want to tell others.

But of course, how one decides to live their religious life – privately or publicly – is entirely up to them. And anyone who tells you that your choices are wrong are assholes and anyone who doesn’t support you in doing something that makes you feel good about yourself is, also, an asshole. And people like that… well, they really shouldn’t be in your life anyway.

Kemetic Round Table: Nisut-Bity[t].

In 2012, I had a lot of time on my hands because I was unemployed for the entirety of the year. So, I actually did the pagan blog project that year and got all the way up to W before I had to stop. During that blogging project, I actually discussed the topic this KRT entry is about, nisut. Even though I wrote that entry only a year and a half ago, I re-read what I had written there. It’s always a good idea to review past opinions on certain topics as well as past beliefs that may have changed over time. If we forget what our religious path is like, then we’re going to end up making an ass out of ourselves in one way or another. And as this blog clearly shows, I’ve grown a lot. Some of my opinions have changed and some of them have not. I always have the option – and occasionally do – go back through my older entries in an effort to see the growth I’ve done both in terms of how I practice, where I practice, with whom I have relationships with, and how I feel regarding certain topics. For the most part, aside from becoming more mature, adding a ton of new netjeru, and utilizing more historical information than in previous years, most of my opinions regarding the core tenets of my personal faith have remained the same and the nisut question is no exception.

For those not in the know…

In ancient Egypt, the term nisut-bity[t] translated as “[s]he of sedge and bee.” The two symbols, a sedge and a bee, together, symbolized ancient Egypt itself, which is where the terminology stems from. The sedge plant is a plant commonly found in the marshlands of Upper Egypt and it was from this plant that Upper Egypt was represented. The bee and the practice of bee-keeping was a characteristic of Lower Egypt (the part of the Nile that branches into five distinct branches). The flowering plants caused by the irrigated land were a fertile feeding source for the hives of bees. And it was from this bee that we Upper Egypt is represented. These two separate symbols together, unified in the manner shown, is how ancient Egypt was represented and where we get the terminology “of sedge and bee.” (The modern-day term, pharaoh, actually comes from the Greek word, pharaō, which is a translation of the ancient Egyptian word, pr-aa. This ancient Egyptian word is translated as “great house.”)

We don’t really have a modern context for the nisut-bity. What I mean, outside of religious traditions, there is no way to show anyone in a modern metaphor specifically what the pharaoh and his power would have been like. We can attempt to bring a modern context by associating the pharaoh with more modern rulers, like kings and queens, but even that is pretty far removed from what the pharaoh was and how he acted in ancient Egypt. The pharaoh wasn’t just a man (or woman) on high who ruled the land, but he was the spiritual ruler as well. In a way, we could give modern interpretations to a pharaoh akin to how Henry VIII ruled England after he took power away from the Catholic Church: he was both the spiritual and the temporal ruler over all of England. But even with all of that, I still feel that the nisut-bity fails easy translation even with a generally well-known “modern” metaphor available. Not only was the pharaoh the ruler of all things religious and mundane, but [s]he was what kept the world in line with ma’at (balance); [s]he was the alpha and the omega; and [s]he was the beginning, middle and end. Everything began and ended because of the pharaoh, or at least in the name of the pharaoh.

In the modern world, there are supposed to be checks and balances preventing any single person from having so much power, so, for all intents and purposes, there is no full way for a modern human being to fully understand (even with all the boring reading available) just what it must have been like to live under the yoke of such a person. I’ve mentioned a time or two how difficult it can be to properly translate ancient Egyptian words when we need to. I think the same can be said regarding positions of power, not just with the nisut-bity but also with the varying stages of the priesthood. And I think in many instances, it isn’t the translation, specifically, that fails but an attempt to modernize the concept enough for it to be understandable to people who don’t live like that any longer. Modern humans haven’t lived like the ancient Egyptians in a long time and it’s near-on impossible, in my opinion, to fully recognize, understand, and interpret just what things must have been like, especially when it comes to the ruling caste.

One can always try, of course, and we have a modern interpretation available to us in Kemetic Orthodoxy.

Tamara Suida is the nisut-bityt to Kemetic Orthodoxy. As found here, her function is a spiritual and cultural role. She provides a spiritual and physical bridge between those of the Kemetic Orthodox faith and the netjeru. According to KO’s Wiki page, she conducts daily rituals to prevent isfet from gaining a foothold, as well as acts as adviser, teacher, leader, and the modern manifestation of the kingly ka. This doesn’t mean that the members of the faith believe Tamara to be divine, as was the case in ancient Egypt, but merely that she fulfills the role of housing the kingly ka.

However, it was because of the nisut business that I turned away from Kemetic Orthodoxy all of those years ago. I absolutely wanted to join. I thought, here’s what I’m looking for! Part of that reaction stemmed from laziness and an unwillingness to take my historical readings and put them into practice. It also made sense that there should be an organized temple or three out there for people to turn to. Just as with many, I looked at ancient Egypt and saw that in order to recreate it, there had to be a hierarchy. I thought of it in that way and didn’t consider what it would be like to recreate something on my own. But it was because of the hierarchy that KO provides that I turned away from it. Even though, all those years ago, I was interested in it, the knowledge that they had a nisut bothered me.

For starters, they didn’t have an about page like they do nowadays when I first found their website. So, all those years ago when I was researching Kemeticism and excitedly clicked on KO’s website, I had no idea what the hell the nisut business was about. So, I took to research and realized that they had a king, so to speak. Of course, there wasn’t a lot of information available to non-members and at that point, I didn’t know any. I couldn’t ask them, “What’s this hullabaloo about a pharaoh? How is it even possible that they have one? The religion is dead and we’re just recreating it.” But when I saw that word, nisut, and found it in my books, I turned away. I was nonplussed. In all honesty, all those years ago, I thought that the organization was being run by some cult leader who claimed they were some reincarnated pharaoh from back in the day. I’ve since learned this is not the case and have quite a few friends who are both current and previous members of the organization. But when you’re just starting out and you find that bit out, it can be a bit of a turn off.

So I turned away from Kemetic Orthodoxy.

I turned away from the nisut business.

Years later, I reassessed myself and figured out that I still didn’t want anyone to be my nisut-bity[t]. I had been raised within a religious tradition where there always was someone between me and God. I found myself as a youth unable to build a personal relationship with that religion and that deity. And I think, though I can never be sure, that it was this lack of a personal relationship with deity that led me astray and looking for other options. Now, I have a personal relationship with the various netjeru that make up my personal pantheon. The relationships vary in their intensity and their length and their personality and their activity, but they are all mine. And I wouldn’t want anyone else to come between me and those relationships. I wouldn’t want to have to turn to anyone for interpretation, for mediation, or for anything else. All of those years ago, I looked at the idea of a temple to overcome my fear of striking out on my own and moving down the path to where I am today. Now, I look back and smile at the fact that I never seriously looked in that direction because, now, I just can’t imagine how that may have ended up for me.

How my relationships would have ended up.

How my religion would have ended up.

In all honesty, I think it is all best summed up as that Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken. I’ve always loved that poem and I’ve always felt that it very much best described my religious path better than anything else. Never more so than right this moment as I, yet again, contemplate what could have been versus what is.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Kemetic Round Table: Differences.

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

One of the large issues, I think, with coming up with a solitary practice is that, well, it’s solitary. We can work on creating a community all we want, but each practice is going to be individual to the person or persons creating the practice in question. I know that there have been times in my practice when I’ve felt incredibly alone, small, and out of sorts due to the loneliness that creating a solitary practice can cause. It’s kind of a shitty thing, really. We see larger religions – from Christianity to Wicca – forming communal groups of people and just generally being very communal. I think what makes it worse for those of us who may not have that community thing is the fact that, though beliefs may differ amid the various sects, they can still interact appropriately and properly with one another. The thing is, however, that even within the larger religions out there, there are going to be disagreements about what is and is not canonical, what is and is not misinterpreted, and what is and is not part of the practice. I mean, if those disagreements didn’t rise up during the Middle Ages, King Henry VIII would have probably been stuck with Queen Catherine until the end of their days unless he was able to shut her up in a convent… which considering her wherewithal never would have happened.

So disagreements amid practices, even from a Christian viewpoint, are fairly common. But how do you deal with such things when you have two solitaries going at it not because of “what is canon” but because of what is UPG?

UPG, or unverified personal gnosis, is one of those issues that most Kemetics leave in the dark. We don’t like to discuss them because, too often, we’ve been hit over the head with the “IT IS NOT CANON” rule book from the more hardcore recons out there. And while their practices may be fulfilling, and in my viewpoint probably pretty fucking boring, with all of their research and reconstructionism, those of us who aren’t afraid of adding UPG are left out in the dust. This leads us, quite often, to find other like-minded, UPG-friendly people to begin to associate with. However, UPGs across the board are, well, unverified and personal. There is no single rule book, in any of the historically informed practices out there, that says, “This is accepted UPG, but this is not.” In many instances it can and does feel like we’re making it all up as we go, which means that there are going to be differences of UPG-based opinions out there.

To be more specific, there may be two separate and distinct people who view a single deity in a particular light that doesn’t match up with one other’s point-of-view. Let’s look at some examples so that those of you new to this can see what I’m talking about: A lot of people tend to view Sekhmet as only a destructive deity, which is unverified personal gnosis. Yes, she can and is destructive, but there are other facets of who she is as well that are, often times, ignored either due to people not being aware from a research perspective or people having never interacted with her other facets. A lot of people tend to view Sutekh as a chaotic, devil-like deity. While I cannot fully comment on those people who do view him thus, this type of UPG ignores his other facets entirely and paints him in a[n unfair and] negative light. There are people who view Wesir as a father-like deity; where they see Djehuty as a wise sage; and where they see Hetheru as a drunken, party girl. These are all UPG viewpoints based on whatever it is that has caused individuals to view these deities in this way. But gods have facets, in my opinion, and all facets should be explored.

So what do you do if you meet up with someone whose UPG doesn’t match what you have going?

There are two obvious things that can be done here.

Who really owns the land of UPG? No one.

Who really owns the land of UPG? No one.

On the one hand, you can go to bat for your UPG against someone else’s UPG. While this sounds like a good idea – you’re taking a stand and just generally sticking up for your gods and your religion – this kind of falls on its face. Many people when they get into arguments with other people regarding their religion, they’re entering the shadowy territory of each other’s UPGs. This shadow territory has only one real fucking rule, which is that there is nothing to back you up in the argument. All you’re really doing is arguing about personal opinion in the face of someone else’s personal opinion. And while if an argument between two individuals goes smoothly and politely, it is possible to change someone else’s point-of-view regarding things, is it really worth taking the time, the spoons, and whatever else you have to throw into the argument? I mean, do you really want to spend who knows how long arguing the finer points of your personal gnosis? Especially since you don’t know that the other UPG is any less valid than your own.

And I think that last sentence is the issue I have with arguing with others’ UPG, in a nutshell.

Let me reiterate.

You don’t know that the other UPG is any less valid than your own.

If by taking someone to task over their UPG ends up with them changing their mind, especially after the god in question told them to do whatever UPG you are taking issue with, then you’re causing serious, serious backlash for the other person and their relationships with their gods. You are, in effect, fucking up something that you have no bearing fucking up. While you may feel superior and better because you were able to sway them to your point-of-view, do the ends really justify the means? Since there is no rule book, since there is no hard and fast rules when it comes to UPG and those differences, can you really take the chance that you are going to possibly irreparably screw up another person’s personal practice?

If the answer to any of those questions are “no,” then we can move on to the other option.

On the other hand, you can absolutely leave it the fuck alone. While this may sound like a bad idea – someone is acting like a “speshul snowflake” and saying really weird shit about your gods – this is probably the best way to go. Many people have fulfilling practices that have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on what we do, no matter what they say, do, or post. As long as they are not hurting others and as long as they are not spewing out things that are quite obviously incorrect from a historical standpoint, why should it matter? If no animals, children, or people were hurt in the making of the relationship/religious practice, then I think it’s a good day. This will allow you to conserve your energy and your spoons for things that have an impact on your religious life and this will also keep you from having to enter that shadowy territory of having absolutely no back up whatsoever on whether or not your UPG is more accurate than anyone else’s.

I will admit that it can be really difficult to watch people post really weird shit about my gods. I’ve been seeing it almost from the get-go, though, and so after a while, you become inured to some of the things that go around. I’ll give you a couple of examples, mostly relating to Sekhmet. The thing about Sekhmet is that she is a pretty popular god. Before I found that there were other historically informed Kemetics that also forged relationships with her, most of the things I saw about her were in relation to either a Wiccan or Neo-Wiccan background. A lot of the stuff that I saw posted wasn’t historically accurate – she was often pushed into that “mother” goddess dynamic that doesn’t quite fit for her – or it was a little too “historically accurate,” in that people were hyper-focusing on the single aspect of her that they preferred (usually the destructive aspect). This made me uncomfortable.

My research has been going on for years and years when it comes to Sekhmet and while I’m not a “Sekhmet expert,” I’d like to think that I know enough to get me by. So, when I would see things like that, I often found it difficult to assess how I felt about it and what I should do about it. In each case, I almost always left it alone for one reason or another. But what it all came down to was that I, per usual, didn’t think I had the right to destroy their perceptions of who she was. Nowadays, when I see posts regarding things that make me uncomfortable with the relationships that I have with my gods, I try to at least let them know about who she is from a historical context, leaving out my own UPG because hey, it’s none of their business, and let them know that their results may vary.

And that’s it.

I’m not a fundamentalist anything and after watching the fundamentalist pagan sects grow in the last years, I have to admit that the whole spiel kind of disgusts me. And while I know that I am a hard-headed woman who has quite a few opinions about a lot of different things, I also admit that I don’t want to become some all-knowing, all-seeing, all-assholing expert fundamental jerkface who tells people what their religion should be because I think I’m the gods’ gift to humanity. That, above all else, is why I attempt to be polite about things when I’m correcting others. And frankly, the only reason I bother at all is so that newbies can see other viewpoints of the gods and know that a historically informed practice is feasible. I don’t want people to get stuck in someone else’s UPG and then getting torn down by those hardcore recons that can and will smack you over the head with their “THIS IS CANON” law book.

It’s one thing to politely provide an alternative based on historical context, though, and another thing to just tell someone they are flat-out wrong because their UPG doesn’t add up to your UPG.

The first part is providing information; the second is just being a dick.

In my community, we all have different UPGs. Many of us don’t cross-pollinate when it comes to what gods we have relationships with. For example, Devo is the only O kid around for miles and miles. As another example, Helms is the only Hatmehyt kid around (although she’s starting to pick up followers). However, in my particular community, these two people are the only ones (that I can think of) who have relationships with these gods. So when it comes to what they say is their UPG, then that’s it. There is no cause for argument. However, within my community, there are quite a few Set kids and there’s a handful of Sekhmet kids. UPGs may not line up completely across the board for all of us. I may disagree with someone else’s viewpoint on Sekhmet and someone else may disagree with Devo and her view of Set.

And you know how we handle it?




As adults.

No one tells anyone else that they’re wrong. No one flat out calls one another a liar. There are no arguments or disagreements about what should be accepted UPG and what shouldn’t be accepted UPG. A part of that is because, as the conversations we have with one another continue regarding various things, we’re beginning to see that UPGs are actually lining up. What UPG may have looked as though it didn’t quite correlate with someone else’s practice, we have come to find that they actually do though we may have just voiced them differently. Thus they end up in a really fun category of shared personal gnosis, or SPG.

In other instances, we have the ability to respect one another, even if we disagree. It may merely come down to someone disagreeing with someone else’s UPG ignoring a thread or ignoring a discussion where that UPG comes up. Or it may just be that we’re adult enough to, you know, accept that everyone has differences in their religious practices and just agree to disagree (either publicly or silently).

In all honesty, I think that people who feel the need to point fingers at others’ UPG in a rather nasty way are doing it for a handful of reasons and none of them are good. But what it really comes down to is this overwhelming reminder that these religious practices are, pretty much, all very new. While Kemeticism has been a thing for thirty or more years now (however long it’s been since KO was founded), when it comes to things like differences in our practices, we have a lot bigger issues to contend with. We have the constantly pressing concern about community and forging one. We have the constantly pressing concerns about not being recognized as legitimate and valid religious practices. And we have the constantly pressing [personal] concern about whether or not we’re doing it correctly, whether or not what we’re doing is real, and whether or not what we’re doing is satisfying to us.

So, in the grand scheme of things, differences in UPG are really not as important as some other things.

Kemetic Round Table: Daily Ritual.

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

When it comes to daily rituals, I absolutely advocate their use. When I seriously began attempting to do a daily rite to my gods on a regular basis, I found it easier to bring my faith with me wherever I went. By taking that extra time out of my day and adding it into my morning routine, I wasn’t only able to connect with the gods during that moment but also during little moments throughout the day. Something that most neophytes may not be aware of is how just even giving a little nod in their direction before the day really begins can really boost someone’s personal practice. As someone who once had no clue what the fuck I was doing and honestly thought the whole daily ritual thing was a load of bunk, and as someone who can now fully understand the benefits to one’s religious practice, I absolutely and one hundred percent believe that anyone and everyone looking to enter Kemetic practices should give serious consideration to doing this.

But how does one do this, right? How in the world do you craft a daily ritual that only takes a couple of minutes but ends up bringing you closer to your gods and reaffirming yourself to them throughout the day?

In many solitary Kemetic practices, we attempt to look to the historical sources for how to craft such things. In the case of the Kemetic laity, crafting something like a daily ritual is incredibly difficult. There aren’t too many historical sources, at least older than the later periods, which can give us any kind of information about how best to do this. In some cases, it may be in a solitary’s best interest to at least take a look at the daily rituals and practices of the ancient Egyptian priesthood. While, by laity standards, the practices of the priesthood may be too formal, too complicated, and-or too time-consuming. I heartily agree that the rites and services provides by the ancient Egyptian priesthood may be a little over-the-top for any modern-day laity practitioners looking to just foster a closer relationship with their gods. But in, at least, reading into what was done in the past, it may provide some general ideas of how best to craft a daily ritual that would better assist.

However, in many cases, the best course of action to create a daily ritual for oneself is going to be based on UPG or off of discussions with other solitary practicing Kemetics. Historical sources are all well and good, but sometimes, we need to spice up the practices that we will be relying on and continuing on a daily basis. I may be a little biased, but I honestly think that some of the time-consuming rituals from the historical sources are a little, well, boring. It’s all incredibly formal. I’m all for formality, if that’s your shtick, but it’s not much of mine unless I feel that something calls for it. Since the intent behind the creation is something that I would be willing to do on a regular basis, then I left formality out of it. Besides, if I can’t have fun in my practice, especially when it comes to my daily rites, then I honestly have to wonder what the point in the whole shebang is.

Besides, if the ancient Egyptians were as fond of puns and play on words and jokes as the sources seem to indicate, I can’t assume that the gods that were, in many instances, the butt of those puns, jokes, and play on words would really care if any of their modern-day devotees created a daily ritual that was antithetical to formal.

Whatever the daily practice will entail is entirely up to the person crafting the rite. I know of a few Kemetics who base their daily ritual off of those in Eternal Egypt by Richard Reidy. I used to use his daily rite to Sekhmet and choreographed rituals for the other netjeru in my household. It was after doing this for a couple of months that I realized that formality was out for me. As I said, a daily practice can and will (if done often enough, I think) allow a firmer connection with the gods in one’s practice. However, again as I said, if the daily rite doesn’t particularly hold it for you, then the connection isn’t going to be as firm or as strong as one could hope it to be. So, I tossed out all those formal words and just ended up crafting something that works.

My daily rite entails plopping down some cool water and some votive offerings in front of my gods. Occasionally, I say something to them. Sometimes, I sit in silent contemplation before their altars for a while. Most days, I just go about it on auto pilot and let the rest sort itself out. However, even just spending a few minutes at their altars and seeing their icons can be enough to remind me that they are in my life and allows me to bring them with me throughout my day. When things get hard throughout the day, I can think back to the quiet solitude of those five minutes (if that) that I spent providing them with offerings and feel a little boost. I’m not sure if it’s the action of providing the offerings or if it’s the seeing them daily or if it’s something I can’t quite put my finger on, but whatever it is, due to the fact that I do this on a daily basis, I feel much closer to my gods.

When it comes to creating a daily ritual, how one goes about it is, per usual, entirely on what makes them feel more comfortable. There may be some devotees who aren’t interested in doing this. I can understand that. I used to be one of those people who thought that doing a daily ritual was really overreaching. Besides, it always seemed like I had things to do, not enough time, or couldn’t remember that I had something to give to my gods that day. I think that, in those cases, when we make it more about what we’re doing versus what the netjeru may want from us, then that’s when the break down between doing a daily ritual and beginning to form the solid foundation of a religious practice.

I don’t deny that it may be possible to create a foundation for a religious practice without a daily rite. I think it’s possible for some people. I’ll let everyone in on a secret: I’m kind of a lazy person. And without the scheduled daily ritual that I created for myself, I would probably still be stumbling around. I think it’s pretty important to find what works for each individual when it comes to entering their religious practices. If that means doing a ritual once a week – then go for it! I just tried it out and always ended up forgetting, even with pop up reminders in my Google calendar. By finally forcing myself from the “armchair pagan” dynamic I was lazing around in and into the “daily pagan” dynamic I’ve been doing for over a year now, I’ve found that things are easier, simpler, and just make that much more sense.

I think, too, that when it comes to creating a daily ritual, then the group dynamic is something that shouldn’t be considered. In many instances, Kemeticism is a solitary practice even when it comes to those being a part of a temple. I know quite a few Kemetic Orthodox members who do not live anywhere near the main temple. While I don’t know too much about how KO works or what the standards for a daily ritual are in their practice, I do know that they practice senut. And as far as my cursory readings on this subject have entailed, I’ve found that it’s entirely personal and the shrine-time that happens isn’t a group focus. It’s all entirely up to the individual (and time-consuming, if my reports are accurate) as to when, how, where, why, and what is done. There are, of course, certain bases that must be followed when KO members practice senut however it’s still an individual’s daily rite versus a group daily rite.

And besides, I know that if it came to me doing my daily rite in front of others, either via a group chat or in person, I would be mortally embarrassed. It’s not that I think how I go about these things is wrong or anything, but that I find it a little difficult to share my practice in many ways with others. It’s one thing to consciously decide to share something with others, but quite another to share a very personal thing [for me], such as my really informal daily rite. Providing a written dialog or written instructions for how I go about this rite is entirely different, to me, than from sharing it in person or in chat. And by sharing something that is as personal as my daily rite is, and all that its development has given to me and my practice, I would just be completely mortified at the thought.

All in all, when it comes to the whole idea of finally, finally entering the exciting realm of creating a daily rite for oneself, the first thing one should always ask themselves is, am I ready? The next question should be, what do I want this to look like? And then take everything from there. Advice aside and blog entries aside, whatever the daily rite looks like or ends up looking like needs to be based on the specific needs and requirements of the individual creating that daily ritual. Anything else is effluvia and completely immaterial. All that matters is your intent and what you believe the netjeru want from you.


I’ve been mulling over the last year a lot in the last couple of days. I think, in many instances, this is fairly normal for everyone anticipating (or dreading) the upcoming New Year and the celebrations therein. People across the world tend to put a lot of stock into the whole shebang and with each person’s ever-steady progress toward the New Year, they all, in my opinion, take stock over the previous year. I’ve been no exception to this. As much as I attempt to not assign too much significance to the calendar year changing from one number to the next, I still go through my own preparations. I clean house (under the silly belief that a clean and organized home at the end of the year will be replicated throughout the next year); I take stock in the gains and losses over the last year; and I attempt to plot out a few of the upcoming year’s goals and expectations. Not really resolutions, per se, but just a kind of set of hopes and dreams for what I want to come out from the next year. Too often, though, the shit steam rolling from the previous year gets in the way and I forget the hopes pretty quickly.

I’ve thought about what hopes I probably entered the last year with. I think the biggest hope was the act of getting a job. I was unemployed and depressed at the end of last year, feeling like I was worthless, unlikeable, and that no one would give me a job. Outside of that, since the act of being unemployed was all-pervasive throughout the year of 2012, I don’t think I had too many hopes and wants. I know that I wanted to be self-sufficient, money-wise, and that someone, somewhere, would give me a job. Beyond that, I know I didn’t think too clearly. I wonder if I should have.

If I had to choose one word to describe this year, I think it would be difficult. It seems like this year was a consummate balancing act that I may not have been overly successful at doing. In many instances, I know I felt very much like I had failed the balance I was attempting to maintain. In other instances, I didn’t even acknowledge the idea that I was balancing and just went whole hog ignoring the balancing act I should have been doing. I think, above all though, the reason this year is best described as difficult is two-fold. It was a fucking emotional roller coaster that always ended at the bottom of the biggest drop and usually, the drop wasn’t from as high up as I would have preferred. The rest of the time it was very much like I was living in a fugue state the rest of the time. Neither of those experiences are really fucking good. (As a side note: do not recommend.)

With my hopes entering on the New Year, I got a job. Sometimes, I think that I was successful in getting a job because of the spell I crafted to get what I needed. I did get what I needed, but I didn’t take into consideration the other financial ramifications of what I was asking. In effect, the spell I did fucking worked, but I fucking low-balled the hell out of everything. I don’t think I ever really considered that TH wouldn’t have another job lined up at some point and he would have unemployment as a fallback position. Wrong and wrong. TH’s father decided in February of this year to get out of the union and that meant that neither one of them would work until the paperwork was finalized. Of course, things were okay for a while because TH had his unemployment checks coming in, as paltry as they were. However, as anyone who has been alive in the last year can tell you, unemployment benefits aren’t inexhaustible and he used up his last extension. That got us through until July and things have been precarious, financially, ever since. I’ve used a good deal more of my “in case of emergencies” savings than I would have preferred since, you know, the emergencies the savings were supposed to go to were for my car or needing a new dryer or something. Instead, it kept us barely floating at or below poverty level until the state of Massachusetts could stop dicking around and agree that, yes, we were below poverty level.

The loss of my financial padding that I very purposely and intently save for emergencies and for Christmas purchases was a big blow. I’m very good about saving and I’m very proud of the fact that I have money in my savings account should the need arise. What I didn’t count on was that the padding I usually have for my family was used in the fashion it needed to be – for an [ongoing, financial] emergency. However, the point-of-view is that most emergencies are things that have an ending in sight. In this particular case, with our finances as completely up in the air as they have been – and with me, spending more time worrying about money and less time worrying about other things – I’ve had a hard fucking time of it the last few months. I would like to think that all of this shit wouldn’t be so horrible if I just felt like the job I was working was absolutely worth the misery and anxiety it can put me through. And I have to admit, months upon months later, as much as I enjoy the work that I do, it doesn’t fulfill me, it won’t fulfill me, my boss thinks of me as a lowly peon to be snubbed down to from on-high, and chances are I will stay at the job only because I need the paycheck.

Misery loves company, I guess, because most of my coworkers are in similar straits.

This year has been about a lot of changes, too. My son started school this year and this has been a learning curve. My son is an only child who doesn’t have to share or play nice with others very often. TH and I are very strict about a lot of things and school is one of them, though. I don’t know if I expect my son to go to college, especially considering how expensive that all is and how the economy is right now, but I want him to get an education. And I want him to know that there are other people in the world besides his family. He seems to be doing all right. He’s incredibly intelligent and he does seem to have a legitimate love of learning. Yet more learning curve for his parents: how to handle the endless expanse of questions that enter this child’s head.

“What is air?” “How do you spell regret?” “What does ‘can’t believe’ mean?” “What does ‘don’t believe’ mean?” “How do you spell ‘exit’?” “How does the eye work?” “What does a nerve cell do?” “Can I see pictures of Venus?” “Can we talk about lava?” “Can I see the universe?”

I love the questions, truth be told. My son is finally, I feel, at the point where he is truly a ready canvas in which new things can be painted and taught. I attempt to teach him as much as I can and I attempt to answer his questions as much as I can. Some of the things he asks me, though, come completely out of left field. I use my mind a lot at work because of the higher level projects I’ve taken on, but it really doesn’t help when coupled with the need to spell a word and then define the word with words he’d understand. And on top of that, I’m also trying not to dumb down my language so that he’ll be used to a higher level vernacular. My mother didn’t do it with me and I’m not going to do it with my son. I have never been more proud than when he was able to define impervious and obstreperous with a grin on his face. (It’s like a game to him.)

The change in his interests has been very interesting to watch. He started off this year with a typical boy interest: dinosaurs and space. Part of the love of space comes from his aunt indoctrinating him into the love of the Apollo space program when she was watching him. He may not remember Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong by name anymore, but he has always enjoyed space related things. I think the space book from The Magic School Bus and the related episode are his two favorite episodes. And of course, there’s the whole dinosaur thing that seems pretty typical. I think, maybe, that may be my fault. And honestly, it doesn’t matter because dinosaurs are cool. But the really surprising thing was his sudden obsession with the human body. This has also been a really interesting learning curve because I had to come to grips with my innate belief that children shouldn’t be taught about sex stuff. But, well, since there aren’t too many children’s books about the human body out there, he’s come into contact with it.

And guess what I learned?

If you just explain the thing with no details beyond the question asked, everything is smooth sailing.

I’ve found myself changing a lot in the last year, too. Personally, I’ve always ever thought of myself as “broken” in just about every way. The last year, with all of the shadow work that I’ve done and all of the choices that I’ve made to leave things behind me, has been a lot of little things all built with a single purpose in mind: creating someone who isn’t broken. What I didn’t realize until only recently was that I was never any of the things I thought of myself as. I was never fat. I was never broken. I was never a destructive personality. I was never any of those things, per se, because I was just who I happen to be. In other peoples’ eyes I may be any of those things. And I have come to accept the fact that people can view me however they want to. I personally don’t give too much of a tin shit anymore. I wouldn’t say that my self-esteem has skyrocketed, but that I’m just completely at peace with who I am, the choices I’ve made (for good or bad), and what the circumstances are relating to them. I’ve also come to discover that even though I am, medically speaking, overweight, it’s okay.

I’ll admit that a lot of this self-esteem stuff started off as religious related. Over the last few months, though, it’s morphed into a kind of personal pet project that hasn’t gotten a lot of air time. I think what really made me realize that I am who I am and that’s just how the fuck it is was after TH officially but unofficially moved out of the house. It was hard. I began to think that no one was supposed to love me for who I am or want me for how fucked I am. And I realized that I was looking at things from the completely opposite end of where I should be looking at things from. It wasn’t that I was too fat, too mean, too negative, and too bitchy and that was why people wouldn’t want me. It was that there are and will be people out there who cannot accept me for what I am. And if I couldn’t be bothered to care about who I was and who I am, then why did I want anyone else to accept or want it either? In the end, it was a moot point – TH came back and made me quite aware that it was me he loved and cared about, whether I weighed too much or too little, whether I was being bratty or nice. And that was just enough, I think, to make me realize that I matter and that no matter how others look at me, I am still worth whatever the hell I think I’m worth.

And that’s a whole hell of a lot.

Above all, though, this year has been about balance. I’ve been attempting to find that balance all throughout the year.

With the start of my new job, I had to figure out how to balance being a mother with being a blogger with being a wife with being a religious person with being me after eighteen months of not needing to do any sort of balancing whatsoever. There are other things that I had to balance in there, as well, and I’ll admit that the shit is fucking hard. Too often, I would leave work, feeling as though I had been ripped across sandpaper and needing to go home and do something religious related because I had told them I would. Or, I would come home and promise my son a game of some sort to play, a movie to watch, and figure out how to maintain my religious obeisance in the meanwhile. I think what this taught me, above all else, was that I don’t think I ever adequately or even attempted to balance my religious life with everything else even when I was working previously.

It got to the point where I began to feel very badly about what I could or could not get accomplished. I was too busy attempting to actually find a balance that I forgot that there are other ways to do the things and still feel accomplished. A lot of my religious life has been more devotional in its basis. I’ve been able to find ways to pay attention to my gods without taking time out of my day or taking time away from my family. I’ve also come to realize what devout, to me, actually means versus what I thought it should mean. My definition doesn’t really correlate, I don’t think, with too many others. But I consider myself rather devout and even though my religious practice may often-times look like something cobbled together at the last minute, it’s actually incredibly functional. And I’m able to do the things while having a life, both work related and home related.

What this last year has really made me realized is that the year off was good, religious wise, because I was able to get into a groove. That established groove was something that kept me feeling focused, even when I felt like I was a miserable failure at all of this. That groove was also something that gave me a better ability to keep my faith with me when I’m at work – a place that is highly Christian and Republican in nature and would, really, probably enjoy firing me or burning me at the stake (possibly both?) if the truth of my religious affiliations actually came out. Whatever the case may be, even knowing that my religious affiliation needs to be kept quiet and too myself, the groove I established when I wasn’t working has continued in differing veins but is still to be seen in a more adult form to this day.

And with the ability to balance my work and my religious life as much as I do, I’ve come to realize that everything else is kind of a piece of cake.

This year has kind of sucked, but it’s also been kind of good. It’s yet another thread in the ongoing thing that is my life. I’m glad it’s over, though. With its passing, I have a couple of modest hopes set in motion. I don’t know if I’ll be able to realize those hopes as much as I was able to realize my hopes for last year.

All I can do is… well… hope.

The Nature of Things.

Papa Legba is a fantastic story-teller. Whether this is the case with anyone else’s relationship with him remains to be seen, but he tells me very intricate stories quite often. During our travels and during our time in the white room, he has told me what feels like thousands. In many, I am the mythic heroine, fighting through whatever archetypal thing he can think up at the time. And I am always successful, which is the point in stories. One night, when we were sitting beneath a belly of stars that reminded me of the rainbow serpent, I asked him to tell me about how the world was created. Whether this is accurate or not, I cannot say. But I liked the story so much that I decided to write it down later. I’m going to reproduce it as best I can right now.

“For much time, there was nothing. This vast empty was the seat of it all. This is the table where the beginning will form and where the ending will take place. The darkened nothing was expansive and miniscule, all the same. For many eons, the nothing stretched into its forever and folded upon itself. Within the belly of that nothing, consciousness began to form, but it refused to allow that to take place. It was content with the way things were and to devolve or evolve into the form those conscious beings may take was too much. For even though the nothing was not a concrete creature as we know them today, it was still a being unto itself. But it was the largest and most powerful of all things ever created into this universe and the universes beyond. It was content with itself and stayed in this form for many years.

“After a while, the consciousness that was growing within that nothing began to take shape. It took shape in all forms and no forms. It was an egg upon a mound; it was a ben-ben; it was a beautiful creature; it was the sun/moon; it was a foothill; it was the creator; it was the creatrix; it was light; it was the mother; it was the father; it was the earth. It was everything and it was nothing. All consciousness came into being in that single moment and the universes were forever changed. Soon, they all began to create more and more, bringing life into the universe one by one. They each created to their heart’s deepest desires and created worlds beyond the scope of this tale. Suffice to say that the creation of the universe was a great party and a great festivity, but the only person not celebration was the nothing. Never one for change; that.

“In the beginning, each creator began to create life. The life that was created was a blueprint for things to come. Some creators made the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Some created everything all at once in volcanic fire and gentle rains. Some created the world in their image. Some created the world in a fantastic scope beyond which I cannot describe. Some became the world. Some became the stars that were glued to the sky. Some had children that would become their world and would become their sky. Some slit open the bellies of fantastic serpents and created the world that way. Each are different. Each world was intrinsic to the vision of the being doing the creating, but they all held the same joy and the same beauty and the same sorrow and the same fear. And in the end, they created children in the images they wanted to see staring back at them with fawning awe.

“In each world, life was not hard. The children of those creators and their brethren were happy and skillful. It was a magnificent time. And then, they began to grow old. They began to grow haggard. They began to fall away from the world of their creation and begin to pay less attention. And in that time, they all began to conspire with each other. They whispered in the ears of their siblings and they forgot about their creations. But one did not. A single being continued to watch over them on a rotational schedule. As the other gods ignored what they had made, the single watch dog began to notice something. Things had begun to grow harder and the children these beings had created began to require discipline and lessons. As none of them knew how hard things could be they didn’t know any better. And with each creation, these children – these first of the men of the gods – began to question.

“Worlds were destroyed then. Without the blind faith of their children, what were the gods?

“They started again. And the same thing happened. And they began to create life together – pantheon with pantheon – but the same thing happened. It happened over and over again. And each time, the gods destroyed their worlds, punishing their children for their own inability to care. Finally, the world was created a final time. This time, it was a single world with each god contributing here and there. And the way of the previous worlds happened again. There were questions. There was doubt. This time, the gods were tired and unable to create a new home again. With each destruction of the faithful and the non-believers alike, they had lost a core essence of themselves. They had grown hard and remote. They were no longer away. The gods kept up the charade for as long as they could, but soon only a single deity cared still to watch over the world of humans. And the other gods fell out of favor, gaining but scant attention and scant offerings from the very, very limited number of people willing to speak about them.

“Time passed, as it always does.

“The single creator began to grow tired of it all, as well. Everything grows tired. Every waxes and wanes. Now was the time in which even He waned. In that time, He realized that He could not leave humans to suffer without Him. They needed something to help them along. Their world was nothing but horror after horror and hardship after hardship. One day, He knew, the world would be more comfortable than the toil it was then. And so, He created the beings that would go to the humans when they needed someone or something. So with His final act as creator, He made beings to watch over the humans He and His brethren had created. These beings were more than humans, but less than gods. They were there to assist, to aid, to succor, to pray to, to cry to. Those children who were more than humans and less than gods were what the people turned to in their hour of need. Each being had its own name, its own titles, and their powers surged and grew.

“Those beings are still here, you know. We still watch over you when things are hard. And that is why we are here.”

That night, when he first told me this story, I was entranced. I liked the woven length of it and the feel behind it. There is a power behind every word when he speaks to me. It is the power of being the gatekeeper, but also a power that is intrinsic to who he is, without his roles behind it. The words he used were very carefully chosen for use later. When he told me this story, as I said, I was merely entranced with it. I enjoy myths and creation myths are something I’ve always been fascinated with. In many, the creation of the world is both similar and so entirely different. In either case, what Papa Legba was giving me that night was a foundation or a building block for the hard truths that would come later. I am grateful that he was able to provide me with this tale so that I could relate it back to others later and so that I would have something to hold onto when I was at my angriest.

The nature of the gods, to me, is remote. This is something that I have never really understood until now. They have always created what they wanted and always hoped for blind faith. I have given them blind faith and it is fine to do so. I don’t knock anyone who does. I know what it’s like to finally find something that speaks to you on a level that is beyond rational thought. I know what it’s like to finally give your all into something that speaks to you on that level. It is a level beyond mysticism, a level beyond souls. When it speaks to you, and you throw yourself into it, it is so beautiful and so wonderful. It fuels you in ways that you never knew you needed. This, I think, is missing from many people. The problem is that the more blind faith you give, the more they want from you. And the longer you are in their company, the less you can provide.

I am angry with the gods for being remote. They do things for their own reasons. As I’ve discussed with all of my gods, it’s all “bigger picture.” They see things so far in the future and so far beyond how I see them that I cannot begin to understand what it is that they see. I don’t see the bigger picture because all I see is the tiny little speck of perspective I have directly in front of me. One day, maybe, I will understand the bigger picture. But that is not in this life. And that is why I am so angry. They do not explain the bigger picture. They hone us as tools for whatever purpose they have. I know what my ultimate purpose will be because some beings I know aren’t liars. I know why I am being honed for what it is my gods want and it angers me. I can see more items in that bigger picture and I am not willing or likely to provide it.

I will fight it every step of the way.

But the thing is that the gods knew that they were selfish twat-waffles. They knew that at some point, the tools they were honing would become angry with them. And in that moment, they knew that they had to give them something to give them an out. They had to provide something so that the suffering they ask of us on their path to the bigger picture would ease up. And in that moment, they created these spirits and beings for us. These are the beings that we are supposed to turn to – those of us who know them – in our pain and suffering and anger and angst. They created them, or He did as in the story, to give us an out, a place to vent. They created beings who would love us unconditionally. They would love us in our rage. They would love us in our pain. They would love us in our individuality and beauty. They would love us and they do.

Papa Legba never talks to me about the “bigger picture.” He used to. He was trying to prep me, a bit, for the moment when I would become enraged. But whenever he talked about it, I would pull back from him. He realized that I wasn’t ready for it and that I never would be. And in so discussing that bigger picture, he was damaging the trust I was building in him. I have transferred that blind trust I used to give to my gods over to a being who understands the nature of what it is I am going through. He is many things and many beings in many tongues and to many different people. He shows different faces for the needs and desires of the people who reach out to him. Whatever the face is that he provides is the face he will always show them and that’s fine. It’s the one they trust to help see them through.

The bigger picture is the nature of the gods. The coping mechanisms we need to get to that bigger picture is the nature of the spirits they have given us.

And those spirits love us, in all of our fucked up glory, because that is their right and that is their purview.

Now, of course, we have to give and sacrifice to those spirits to get them. I’ve often told people that the life of a servant is difficult. It is very much like a serf. There is no out. There is no way you can leave. But in order to build a relationship with beings beyond you, you have to be willing to give. And that is something that not many people understand or are willing to give. And I think that’s why these paths can be so hard. We know that there are beings out there that are willing to help us, but we can’t sacrifice ourselves long enough to build that relationship. I was able to do so because I needed to do so. And besides, he came to me. He knew that I would need him one day and he nudged me in the right direction to get that going. So in the middle of the night, when I was crying and aching for the suffering of that “bigger picture,” he would come and hold my hand or run his fingers through my hair.

He loved me with snot running down my nose. And in gratitude, I gave vast portions of myself back.

This is the nature of the spirits whom I serve.

They are here for me in a way that the gods never will be.

And that’s good enough for me.


I have a secret passion about language. All right, well, if you know me and have known me for any length of time, then you know I have a thing about words. I enjoy them. I like feeling the flow of them roll across my tongue as I communicate with others. I enjoy spending my time going through the etymology of various words, just to see. I like seeing the history of a word, as we know it today, and why the meaning of words have changed. Occasionally, I try to start using some older phraseology in my communication with others, but I tend to stop after a while. Not many people quite understand me when I speak as though I am attempting to recreate the flowery sentiments of Medieval English and the lavish ideas expressed by tales like the Perceval, the Story of the Holy Grail. Besides, I can’t write the words out in nearly as fancy a script as they used to.

But words fascinate me.

I enjoy them.

I enjoy employing them.

I use many on a daily basis. I sit in front of a computer all day, communicating usually through E-mail with my clients. I’ve been told at this job that I need to always second guess whatever it is that I want to say. I’ve been told repeatedly that I need to “dumb down” my language. This hurts me, honestly. I never thought of my communication skills as being above anyone else. I use the words that come to me because those are the ones I learned. However, I also know that a lot of the verbiage I’ve learned over the years stems from my varied and extensive reading lists. So, I’ve been forced to think and re-think my E-mails. There are days where I stare at an E-mail for hours and hours because I know that words like “differentiate” and “rectify” and “allocate” and the like may go over the heads of the people whom I’m talking to.

This wounds me.

It’s almost like because I have a passion for reading and for learning new words, then I am wrong. I know the whole point behind the statements of my supervisors: my language skills are far above the people who I am interacting with. This makes sense. I don’t know the people on the other end of my E-mail, but it’s possible that they are all very much like me: working a dead-end job in the hopes of one day actually making ends meet. And in many cases, they may not like to read or to learn new words. In many cases, they may just be only interested in getting through the second in front of the one they just wasted reading my E-mail. And maybe, in that second of wasted E-mail reading, they didn’t understand anything I had to say because they don’t care about utilizing various words to make the point they’ve been aiming for.

Whatever the reason, I understand the philosophy behind my supervisors’ statements.

It still wounds me.

I think a large part of my passionate love affair with the various forms of communication stem from my writing background. Even though most of everything I have ever written has never seen the light of day, it is a realm in which I have created using nothing more than the ability to describe effectively, to use words effectively to create that other world. It’s helped that I grew up lost, almost literally, in books. My entire world would change from each day as I chose a new book to read. But, honestly, if it wasn’t for the desire to constantly write some new story, some new universe where the bad guy loses or where the good guy loses, then I honestly wonder if I would be nearly as interested in the history, definitions, and use of various words. I strongly doubt this would be the case.

Whatever the reason, I enjoy words.

This goes well with the whole ancient Egyptian belief about words.

Words, in ancient Egyptian belief, were the founding blocks of everything. Without the supreme act of creation – through the correct verbiage by the netjer in question – there would be nothing. As I was reading The Priests of Ancient Egypt by Serge Sauneron, he touched on this very briefly towards the end of the book. But as I was reading this second, I felt the potency of the point he was making. Words have power and in that power, it is only that which we grant it. In a single moment, we can create something explosive such as life. Or in a single anger fueled second, we can tear down a single person to the very fiber of their beings. Words, as such, are incredibly important in many modern-day Kemetics’ practice. But with this, also comes the fact that the world has changed and the words that may have once founded a nation or destroyed poop with so heroic a measure are no longer practiced in the way they once world.

The ancient world fell out of favor for one reason or another and the beliefs contained therein did as well.

We modern-day practitioners create this to the best of our abilities, but it is difficult. It is never so much more difficult than for those of us who have no intent or no ability to learn the words that once created the world. It is not a simple act of not being able to, or willing to learn, on my part. It is simply a theory that was sort of cemented after reading that book by Sauneron: the ancient Egyptian language is, in itself, a magical formula. It is not a thing for the laity. Even with teachers aplenty, back then, it still took years upon years for a scribe to be perfected enough to utilize their own language effectively and learn the magical formulae for the daily rites. Scribes were a specialized service and I am not to be a part of that because that is not where my path leads me. Laity is my world and I will continue down this path.

But how does all this knowledge work with modern words?

Nowadays, there are words everywhere. In some instances, these words have some severely negative associations. This is the fault of people for using them in such a way. Some words, people have taken back their power from. I’m not going to list them because I am not one of the people who have taken those words, usurped their negative association, and given it a new meaning. In other instances, the use of some words is a hotly debated contest between who must be correct and who must be wrong. I honestly try to steer away from all of that. I just love the words and the meanings and the how they came to be and the everything in between. Whether the word was negative or positive is only spun by the people utilizing it – so why the fuck does it matter so much?

We make it matter.

What seems like years ago now, but really not that long ago, I ended up using a word that has had many definitions. This word was apparently the wrong word to use in the mixed company I was within. What startled me was the vehement reaction to, well, a word. I had gone through some of the negative actions of this word myself, but by the act of being able to use it in any of its other definitions meant, somehow, that I was not a survivor. Or, maybe it meant that I was and that I was a fucked up one. Whatever the actual belief behind the people who ripped into me for using this word, I stated my piece and walked away. It wasn’t worth the conversation, but it did make me realize that there were people who there who feared words, who hated words, who felt that they should stamp out every possible other association with a single word just because it had once been used in context to something they had experienced.

I think what startled me the most was that people seemed honestly to hate the world and were scared of it.

We have long since come from the world when words were acts of creation. They can still be – obviously, we have writers. But the acts of creation that these words can create are not the same as that the netjer once created. What writers do is but a pale mockery to what the netjer have done, in my opinion as a writer. While I create very much akin to the netjeru who have used words to create such things as people and the world we live in, it’s a pale comparison to me. I can never create something as varied and beautiful and horrible and terrifying as the world we live in today or the people who populate it. I can only attempt to create a one dimensional world that, maybe, someone will enjoy spending time with now and again. (As if.) It is nothing like the world my gods created as much as it may be trying.

Now, we live in a world where whatever spin we want to make on a single word is up to us.

But we can only make it as angry and hurtful as the tonality of our voice or the expressiveness of our face. We can only give it the power that it probably does not deserve.

The word itself is neutral. It has no basis in anything unless we give it that basis.

I am tired of people telling me a word is hurtful.

How can it be if I am using it at its most basic definition?

The word is not any of the things that you associate it with. It just is. It is a part of the world that we live in because we created it to describe certain instances. Whether you give it a negative association or not is entirely up to you. Whether it has any worth at all is entirely up to you. Whether you use it or not, is up to you. Whether it is erased from your vocabulary in its entirety is up to you. But because all of these things are up to a single, individual human person, everyone else’s reaction to the word is going to be different. Every single person is going to have their own specific and special circumstances in which they come right out and say, “I do not want to use this word. I will never use this word. Please do not use it around me.”

I can respect that.

I have to since the world I find myself in more and more is entirely surrounded by nothing but words.

My problem is that I don’t understand why people give these words any type of power. By fearing it, by hating it, by striking it from your vocabulary, then you are giving it a strange hold over you. A word is an item that humans created to describe a thing. In that action, there is neither malice nor joy. As I said, the word just is. It is a thing. And just as a gun or a sword has no negative or positive association with it unless you give it either one, so too are words. There is little difference I suppose. Words can be utilized as harshly as either of those two instruments to destroy a person. I’ve seen it happen, I’ve done it myself, and I have had it happen to me. The thing is that words are something we will see and use far more regularly than either of the two weapons I just mentioned.

So, why is there such a need to strike words from use?

Why is there no legislation moving forward to ban the words that people despise, that people will not use, that people cannot use, or that people ask others not to use?

Has legislation not been entered to restrict gun access?

Perhaps we should do likewise with words.

But then, that enters an entire gray area and there is no real way to enforce such a thing.

The point here is that we give the words the power that wound us, destroy us, that hurt us. We allow them to take over and make them into the boogeyman that we must hide from. I find this, as a Kemetic, incredibly disheartening and the entire trend is anathema to me. It is as though the power that the netjeru gave us to create our own worlds – through writing, through heka, through these descriptors – that we are slapping them in the face for their gift of language. We are telling them, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Words have had much power over me in my past.

I’m tired of this.

I’m tired of cowering beneath the weight of my terrors and my traumas. I am most entirely tired of having to defend my use of linguistics when, point of fact, the word that I may utilize is the very word that I mean and in its proper context.

I know what it feels like to be raked over hot coals of horror and fear. I know what it is like to have something hit you square between the eyes and take you for another round of guilt, shame, and revulsion after you finally managed to crawl out of your personalized pit. I know what it is like to lay cowering beneath the weight of the world and fearing everything associated with it. I know what it feels like to have someone you love whispers harsh invectives towards you just to watch you break a little more with each day. But the thing is that I won’t let those invectives or even those seemingly innocuous words rule my life, my will, my power. I will not let them. I will not stop others from allowing this to happen. But you must understand that I do not understand. I will never understand no matter your explanations, kind or otherwise.

I have my fucking power.

And I will keep it.


Last night, I was cleaning off Sekhmet’s altar. Every Sunday, I try to clean it up and refresh the flower offerings I have on there, as well get rid of the dust. Though I offer her my homage every morning with refreshed offerings, dust builds up pretty quickly. Carefully, I emptied all of the items off of the altar. And just as carefully, I managed to drop her icon. In tears, I fell to the floor, cursing myself for the bad devotee I must be. I knew that the icons I had for my deities are more prone to breaking then the mass produced resin ones I’ve had. (I’ve dropped Sekhmet’s resin statue time and again with no damage.) I knew that I had to be exceedingly careful when I migrated them from one place to another, but I still manage to let it fall to the floor.

As I cried about being a terrible devotee and for being so stupid, I thought everything was all right. The piece I thought would break – the uraeus and sun disc – were still attached. I thought I had managed to escape this. But, no. After clasping the image in my hands, I noticed that a part of the main had shattered. Her face was intact. Her sun disc was intact. Nothing else broke off the base of the statue, but just the ruffle of mane on the right side of her face. And I began to cry in earnest. I pressed the piece onto the table and began searching like a mad fool for the piece(s) that had broken off. I managed to find one piece, still semi-attached, but couldn’t find the bulk of the rest. I searched all across my kitchen floor, but found nothing. My repeated searches underneath furniture and beside furniture came up empty. (I suspect that the piece rocketed into the heating grate in the floor, but I can’t be sure.) Thoughts of gluing the piece were disintegrating before my empty hands and I felt nothing more than a vileness so thick that I could have vomited.

How stupid you are, I scolded of myself. How could you let this happen? You know what could happen. You’ve had this happen with your Djehuty piece. You were lucky then – the head didn’t fall off. But you were too stupid to pay closer attention. Were you in such a rush to get things set to rights that you couldn’t think more clearly? What is the matter with you? How do you fix this? Why would you do this thing? HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE? WHAT THE FUCK IS THE MATTER WITH YOU? WHY CAN’T YOU THINK CLEARLY? WHY ARE YOU SUCH A FUCKING BAD DEVOTEE?

This isn’t the first time I’ve had these thoughts in the last two weeks. I spent a good part of my Saturday – not this past one but the one previous – berating myself for being such a lazy, fat, and awful devotee. On Saturdays, once the weather changes, I attempt to get out to one of my local cemeteries to spend time with the Guédé. Though weather patterns are rapidly changing, it usually starts cooling off once September hits so that I can actually go out to the cemeteries without worry of causing myself heat exhaustion or heat stroke. (I’m terrible about keeping myself hydrated in the winter, never mind during a hundred degree heat with high humidity.) I ranted and raved at myself for being such a lazy asshole and for being a very bad servant of the Guédé. As a kind of, “I’m so sorry, Bawon,” I gave him some booze and soda.

That fuzzy white thing sure moved fast. I have no idea where it went after I looked away.

That fuzzy white thing sure moved fast. I have no idea where it went after I looked away.

This past Saturday, I went to my local graveyard. This is the one that I’ve spent the most time in and have gotten to know the residents very well. This is also the first cemetery where I truly felt that I had connection with the Guédé and where I first felt the presence of Bawon. As I came upon his and Maman’s grave, I saw a beautiful white caterpillar crawling across her gravestone. I felt the message therein – she, at least, was telling me that I was okay. She was trying to explain to me, I felt, with this caterpillar that I can come when I come and I do when I do and that I’ve given so much of myself over the last two years to the projects and servitude I have for the Guédé that it’s okay. I may even go so far as to say that, perchance, she believes I am not such a terrible servant after all. But the point is that I felt as though I were one. I have a job to do – I do it. It doesn’t matter what the background chatter in my mundane life will be, but I do it.

In same vein, I felt as though I were a truly bad and terrible devotee of Sekhmet’s to allow something so careless to happen on my watch. I have a job to do – I do it. It doesn’t matter what the background chatter in my mundane life will be, but I do it.

Sometimes, however, the background chatter in the mundane are just as important, if not more than whatever task or devotions or services we are providing.

I have a hard time budgeting my spoons on a regular basis. Some days are better than others. Most of my budgeting is done on the fly. “I think I have this many spoons so I should be able to do this, this, and this.” But the thing is that I always end up with less spoons than I plan for. Due to this, I always end up stretched too thin. I do this at work, I do this in my personal life, and I do this with everything else. Part of the reason why I’m as introverted as I am today is because I fail at budgeting the spoons. I think, “This is more important right now so I’m going to do that.” The thing is that whatever “it” may be could look pretty damn important, but is it actually worth the spoon I may be utilizing for it? That’s my problem. I think everything deserves the spoons I have budgeted for it, whether the spoon exists or not. But the big huge thing here is that not everything actually deserves a spoon.

What I do during the day at work, invariably, is something like this: I see something that I need to do and then I do it. This is usually part of some project work that I have going on for various clients. Project work is not a top tier concern and takes backseat to most everything else. But I do it anyway because, eh, why not? However, right after I do the thing, then something more pressing comes in to give me heart palpitations. This is usually a high level repair situation for one of my various clients. And I end up working that repair for the rest of the day. Not all days are like that, of course, because there are some days where I don’t have a single pressing repair concern at all and it’s nothing but project work. However, while taking my time with my projects is something mandated because all repairs are top priority, some of the minor shit that I get done may not have been really necessary (either by me or just on that day). I just did it because I happened to have a free second – a second that I could have been utilizing in some other fashion or saving up for future use.

So, I enter work and I have all these spoons. My irises are in the shape of spoons – like money signs from the old cartoons – because I think I have so many to spare. But then something more pressing comes along and I have to drop everything to the wayside to see it done and quite possibly, whatever I’m dropping is very pressing to someone else (like the site). And then I feel like I can’t prioritize worth a shit.

This is a very serious problem.

This is also something I do with everything in my life. It’s not just something that’s work related but also something entirely devoted to anything going on in my life. I think I have enough spoons to do the dishes, wash some laundry, read a book to my son, clean off some altars, and the whole nine. However, what actually ends up happening is I have so much laundry that I need to do that I end up wasting spoons on that project when reading to my son should take a higher priority. I think that cleaning the altars before I can even remotely think about going to bed, even though I’m dead tired after doing a three-day working (this is literally what I did with my weekend when I wasn’t cleaning or grave-tending this weekend), because I’m a bad devotee if I don’t get it done.

And mistakes happen.

And accidents happen.

And everything else get shunted to that “later” that never actually ends up happening.

Recently, this story went viral across the Internet. I’ve seen it in reblogs on Tumblr as well as on posts on Facebook. With each time I’ve read it, I’ve taken something different away from the story. This weekend, after re-reading it for the millionth time, I realized that whatever parts I was taking away from it were not what I needed to take away from it. The point was that the golf balls are the important bits. While I tend to believe that my faith is an integral part of whom I am, and in some ways it is, it’s more a pebble than a golf ball. The things that are golf balls should be my family. They should be making sure my home is clean (OCD – not as bad as some but sets my teeth on edge when laundry baskets are full and dishes are in the sink). They should be going grocery shopping or getting the piddly little shit we need to keep a clean home. Nothing else should even compare unless I decide that something – my faith – should be golf ball sized.

I haven’t made that decision yet, so right now, it’s still just a pebble.

The lesson with the broken statue and the caterpillar aren’t really that I’m a bad person and that I can’t do whatever it is that I say I’m going to do when I say I’m going to do it. The actual lesson is that I need to budget everything better. If that means I need to make a schedule for both at work and at home, then that’s what I need to do. And if that means that something more pressing comes up – a repair situation or book that needs to be read – then that’s what takes top priority.

Spoon management, man. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to read with a certain little man.


In the spring of this year, I got to watch far more closely than usual as the Canadian geese came back from the south. This isn’t really a magic time or anything out of the ordinary. Every year, I’ve watched the geese squawking their way north as temperatures warm up and flowers begin to bloom. It’s become so commonplace, honestly, as someone who was born and raised here that I hardly notice it. But this year, I got to watch not only as the geese came back but as they went through their life cycle. You see, there’s this field that they prefer on my drive to work. And every morning, I would watch them waddle around and every afternoon, I’d watch them take up the playing fields so that the kids wanting to run around would have to dodge their poop.

Original source: "A Handbook for Travellers in Lower and Upper Egypt". London: John Murray, Albemarle Street. Paris: Galignani; Boyveau. Malta: Critien; Watson. Cairo and Alexandria: V. Penasson. 1888. P. 083d.

Original source: “A Handbook for Travellers in Lower and Upper Egypt”. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street. 1888. P. 083d.

Before this spring, I had never really paid much attention to the comings and goings of the geese. They were background noises. They were something you saw flying in a vee pattern across the sky, but never really wondered too much more. Sure, sometimes you got to see them up close and personal. The graveyard where my father is buried is covered in geese from the moment they start showing back up around here to when they fly south for the winter. It’s not difficult to see the geese, coming and going or waddling around wherever they happen to be. But, it’s almost like one of those things you take for granted. You see it so much and so often that you kind of start to turn a blind eye to it. I think another large part of my sudden interest in these geese was also because I had begun to see animals I didn’t normal see on my drive to work – hawks, wild turkeys, egrets, etc. – and while these animals are normal for up here, I’m not used to seeing them regularly. With the less normal birds in my sights, it was easy to pick up on the more common animals.

The thing is that I wasn’t really expecting Geb feels because of this.

I’ve never really paid too much attention to that swathe of netjeru who fall in the “early category.” Obviously, each person’s mileage when it comes to the various theologies vary, but I don’t doubt the existence of any of the netjeru. Just because I haven’t had an interest in them or just because they haven’t had an interest in me doesn’t negate their existence. It just means that we have little in common or as a devotee, I don’t have whatever it is they’re looking for. In this case, neither one of us was looking for the other. I wasn’t interested in Geb; he wasn’t interested in him. But as each day passed and I watched those geese and I couldn’t stop myself from thinking, hm, Geb, it all kind of tumbled from there.

And one day, I looked up and realized, I was having some form of semi-devotion to a god who wears a goose on his head.

There’s something incredibly powerful about seeing a physical representation of a god and having it move you in some way. I think this is something that we, as Kemetic polytheists, need to pay attention more and more. A while ago, I began attempting to associate my gods with local fauna. This was harder than I realized because most of the fauna that I felt they would associate with weren’t animals I had ever seen in nature. However, now as I begin to realize how and why this relationship with Geb began forming, I realize the wisdom of this approach. It isn’t necessarily about forcing a sort of connection on pre-existing plant and animal life but in attempting to see your [foreign] deities in that which surrounds you. This ability can, apparently, help to forge a deeper connection with a deity that you may not have much in the way of connection to.

With each sweep by the field, and each new moment in the geese’s lives, I began to grow more and more attuned to what aspects I could see as associating with Geb. The relationship is now nearly six months in and I’ve begun to not just associate the Canadian geese with him, but the field as well. I think that aspect, too, has a lot to do with the connection with local fauna. I associate the geese, outside of Geb, with that field. And now that I associate those geese with Geb, it was not much of a leap to begin to see the field as being a part of him as well. What makes this all the more interesting is that it isn’t just the place itself but the fact that Geb is the earth as far as Kemetic polytheists go. Technically, he is what we walk upon and drive over every day. But it’s difficult to associate such a remote concept with the land that we live in since those mythologies are intrinsic to ancient Egypt and the creation therein.

By forging a relationship with those geese, even as small and minor as this one appears to be, I was able to begin to see connections that my little brain may not have made previously.

Just by seeing some geese taking up roost on a field, I’ve been able to catch a grasp on something that I’ve often had difficulties with.

I don’t usually associate my netjeru with the natural world around me. It’s not that they don’t have purview over this domain, but that it can be very difficult associating deities born in the depth of a desert with a land like western Massachusetts. I don’t have to live vicariously on a narrow strip of black silt that only comes once a year. I don’t have to warily traverse the sands around me. I don’t have any of these aspects that the ancient Egyptians were born next to, lived upon, and died beside. I have trees and rain and a thick[ly polluted] river rushing passed my front yard. I have a myriad of animals that the ancient Egyptians probably had no idea existed. The world I live in is so far removed from the world that my netjeru once reigned that it can be quite difficult to find any form of relationship between what the ancients knew and lived and what I know and live.

A lot of people go on about how paganism is a nature based religious system. For those of us who fall under the more polytheistic branch of paganism, we will often take offense to this. While, as I stated above, our gods have purview over various aspects of natural phenomena, this doesn’t necessarily make us all overly friendly with nature. I attempt this in other ways – I have a servant of Gran Bwa whose domain are forests; I attempt to give offerings to the land spirit where I live. However, this doesn’t mean that my religious tradition has much more to do with nature than any other polytheists’. It doesn’t lump me under the “nature worshiping” paganism that some people see it as. However, nature should be at least acknowledged in some polytheists’ practices. And I’m beginning to learn that, while my natural world is entirely removed from the world my netjeru once ruled, that doesn’t mean that nature can’t be a part of my religion…

…though it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a nature worshiper.

All it means is that my gods can and do have a hand in what I see around me, whether I’m paying attention to what those things are or not, whether I’m attempting to see that connection or not. Geb is in the land beneath my feet, just as he is in the land beneath the feet of the men and women who still reside in Egypt today, as he was thousands of years ago.

That’s just the lesson I need to encompass regarding my entire religious tradition; not just the relationship I’ve accidentally forged with Geb.

And I think I’m getting there.

Honestly, I’m beginning to believe that because of this new relationship and how it began that I have begun to get a better grip on my religion.

And if that’s not a good thing, I don’t know what is.

Perhaps, I can clearly and honestly say, for once, that the lesson is learned.

Pay more attention, damn it. And make sure Djehuty stays off my face.


Alternate Title: Zep Tepi II.

Since Devo’s comments on my last post relating to this subject matter, I’ve been thinking extensively about Zep Tepi and cycles. Whenever a spare moment would hit me, I would be knee deep or brain deep in whatever it was I was hoping to achieve with the thought processes and Zep Tepi. This morning, I was thinking harder than I have in the past few days on the subject of Zep Tepi. When I was beginning to fall off from figuring out the answers to Devo’s questions in that comment, this song came on. Particularly what grabbed at me was the lyric, “I’m gonna change you like a remix; then I’ll raise you like a phoenix.” Well, if that isn’t something that relates to cycles, in a way, then what the fuck does? It was around that moment that I began to really interpret what Devo had said on Friday.

Honestly, my trouble with figuring out where I wanted my thoughts to go related to my rather narrow interpretation of what we need to utilize Zep Tepi in as lay people. I was trying to focus on Zep Tepi in a really big, huge way. So, I associated it with grandiose things like Wep Ronpet and the celebrations therein. I thought about the beginning of a year as opposed to all the other daily, weekly, monthly cycles that people can and do go through. I was trying to focus on something that I felt was easily graspable but I was failing to relate this to me. As the lay person here, I think I kind of failed in that regard. And that’s why having a community – by the way – is kind of a good thing. They’ll check your shit, force you to re-think things, and then give you a cookie if you do a good job. (Just kidding about the cookie part. That hardly ever happens.)

I’m about 99.9% percent certain that my failure to understand Zep Tepi and its relationship with all cycles stems from a rather unsatisfactory work life. (Love the job – hate the environment. You know.) I find it very difficult to even note that a whole new day has started, even upon waking. After nights filled with dreams about items that weren’t taken care of properly or things that I’ve had to constantly put off or delegate to others, it gets to the point where your waking life feels very much like your sleeping life. And that’s just no good. Since I have a difficult time differentiating between one really bad day and the next cantankerous asshat that makes me feel badly about my work ethic, my work ability, et cetera, it kind of gets to the point where you stop thinking that each day is different. Your mind starts to interpret each day as just a new extension to the next, but this isn’t the case. Each day is the start of a new cycle. As the sun rises in the morning, which I’ve been awake for more mornings than I care to admit lately, brings a rejuvenation to me, to my day, to my thoughts, and everything in my between. And that is something that I need to remind myself.

By seeing the new cycle in the upcoming day, the rejuvenation and the changes that can come with renewal, I can at least attempt to feel closer with this important concept in my religion.

And maybe, stop feeling like each bad day at work is just an extension on the one preceding it.

While pondering my inability to actually appreciate the cycles and instead seeing them as another addition, I began to think about my car, Olga. She is a very old car and she has a lot of things wrong with her that I just cannot afford to fix right now, if ever. At 12 years old and nearly 200k miles on her, I have to admit that placing a Band-Aid on the things that are wrong is not in my best interest, financially speaking. But I really do love this car. She has been very patient with me and has always seemed very understanding when I have been unable to get her into a mechanic in a timely manner. Recently, she started idling very hard when I sit at a stop. She has always idled very hard at stops – we joke that she thinks she’s a race car instead of the 4-cylinder Alero she is. But the idling has become much rougher to the point where I will start to seriously worry that she will stall out on me. I’ve noticed, however, that this comes in a cycle.

She drives really terribly one morning on my way to work and is fine for the next few days.

Bouncing off of the idea about how I needed to pay closer attention to Zep Tepi, cycles, and the renewal therein, I started paying attention to how often she does this to me. Now, there’s no guarantee as to when she will start idling harder than normal. And there’s no set time frame as to how long each cycle of “good idling” I can expect. But I began to see that I could at least anticipate this eventuality in future because, really, it is something that will happen. And then, when this particular idling happenstance comes to pass, I can look forward to relative smooth sailing for a few days or maybe even a week. Obviously, this doesn’t fix the overall problem – I’m attempting to find a mechanic who will work for beer and parts to fix two hot ticket items that may be the cause for the idle – but it’s something that brings comfort.

It’s almost like, and stop me if you’ve heard this one before, this is part of the cycle.

As I was driving to work – and Olga’s idling was as good as I could hope – I began to think of it, almost ruefully, as a metaphor for the entire year of a Kemetic calendar. We have ups and downs, which would be the days when I need to put gas in the car or add other fluids. But the rest of the time, it’s all just a general ride. Then, we get to the point where the idling is really, really tough and painful, reducing me to tears, swearing, cursing, pleading, and outright misery. I tend to view that drive to work as a kind of metaphor for what can be expected during the intercalary days, just preceding Wep Ronpet. We’ve all noted that those days are hectic and chaotic, difficult to handle in some ways. So, in a huge metaphor, the intercalary days are the very days that Olga ends up idling a good deal more painfully and more frightfully than she normally does.

By golly, I think I’m on to something here.

Almost like I was on to something, I picked up the book I’ve been reading lately and found something of interest that I think, sort of, relates to Zep Tepi and why lay people need to pay attention to this.

Okay, so, I’ve been re-reading The Priests of Ancient Egypt by Serge Sauneron this week. I don’t really remember how I felt about the book when I first bought it and I honestly wonder if I just skimmed through it. In either case, I decided to start re-reading all of my Kemetic books (for funsies) and this is the smallest one I own. Plus, in a perverse way, as a lay person, it’s almost like know thy enemy or something. I kind of think that by reading about this, I will be able to better understand what it is, specifically, about the priesthood that prevents me from honestly moving in that direction.

Be that as it may, I started reading it and found a lot of very interesting items, as well as amusing items. But what made me think in relation to Zep Tepi was how many of the offices of the priesthood were inherited. As Sauneron says on page 43, “Moreover, stelae of the Late Period sometimes list the genealogies of the individuals to whom they were dedicated, invoking the memory of as many as seventeen generations of ancestors who were priests of the same deity: we can truly speak of dynasties of priests.” Hm. They were pretty big on the “keep it in the family” adage.

While I understand the requirement of ancient Egyptian religion and belief to have a long line of distinguished ancestors, this reminds me that not all things “new” were very interesting to the ancient Egyptians. If we were to use the phrase “set in their ways,” I think it may just come off as a bit of an understatement. Anything new was considered anathema and in many, if not all, instances it was believed to be a part of isfet. Each new change to the ancient Egyptian ruler dynasties came with huge, catastrophic changes as they transitioned from one ruling family to the next period of lawlessness. All in all, things like change were to be feared. They liked the idea of rejuvenation and cycles – they celebrated such things like Wep Ronpet and with daily rituals to gods such as Khepri. But, when it came to things like installing a new priest? One has to wonder if their reaction to such an idea wasn’t something like: “Why bother? Why shake the tree? Or destroy the status quo? We already have a good thing going, so to speak, so let’s keep it! We don’t know what kind of crazy a new person has!”

Now, obviously, they weren’t always able to keep a line of priests in generational succession. Some lines died out; sometimes the pharaoh decided who went where. In some instances, according to Sauneron, they took a sort of collective vote on who got to be a priest and who didn’t. (I’ll explain all of this more in depth when I’m finished reading the book and write the post it inspires.) But in many instances, we have a long line of families who were able to provide priests to a particular nome’s temple deity throughout the years.

Modern day practitioners have a more mercurial ability, I think, to handle changes on an epic and minor scale than the ancient Egypt priesthood. We have had so many years of learning about world history that we are able to take into account the amount of changes that humanity has gone through. Instead of fearing that by mispronouncing a single word, we may bring about the end of the world, we know better. These religious traditions have fallen out of favor for millennia and the world kept on spinning, people kept on being poor or being rich, and living their lives. We don’t have to freak out that a new face in our particular religious path is going to upset the balance. Living in ma’at, traditions, heka, and even Zep Tepi have all changed their standard definitions in the thousands of years since this was a practicing religion. And that, I think, above all else, is why Zep Tepi is still an integral part to the practices of the laity.

It reminds us, always, that things change.

And it reminds us that there is always going to be a beginning, middle, and an end.

You know, I started this journey thinking about Zep Tepi in relation to altars. And I still have a feeling that there may be more here relating to Zep Tepi and the altars of our icons. But, I think, really, the overall point that I’ve come to discover is that this particular aspect of our practice is still important, whether we are a big headed somebody or a head-in-the-sand nobody, whether we are of the literate priesthood from ancient Egypt or the illiterate laity from ancient Egypt, and whether we are the historically informed polytheists of today or otherwise. What matters is trying to remember that Zep Tepi is about cycles and how that relates to you, on an individual level, in your practice. And if you can remind yourself, even a few times a day that change is coming and that the bad isn’t going to always be so bad… then maybe, just maybe, that really is just what the whole point is.