Wep Ronpet 2014.

I like Wep Ronpet. The very feeling behind the celebration shoots both joy and excitement throughout my body and I can feel, almost, as if my body as renewing just as the year is about to. I think the excitement and joy comes from the knowledge that, soon enough, the year will reset itself and the hope of a new year will be upon me. Whatever sorrows and horrors that may have happened within the last twelve months will soon be gone and something new, something perfect, will be before me.

The best way to describe these feelings would be to explain about the first snowfall of the winter.

Just as with many people in the northeast, I am not a huge fan of winter. It is a long time to live with gray clouds and hardly any sun to peek through, with temperatures rapidly plummeting. There is nothing to commend it, really; icy roads, blizzard conditions, and depression. But there is something that has always made me, even as a little girl, look forward to the first snowfall. I can remember, when I was little and when November would start to stretch towards Thanksgiving, eagerly peering out my windows every morning in the hopes that the first snow had fallen.

And the gasp of joy at the beauty that the land awaited when it did fall! Everything was covered in ice crystals and the snow was pure and perfect, never touched by man or beast. The crusts of gray and soot from passing cars hadn’t yet touched it; it was glorious. To me, that glorious first snowfall is a lot like Wep Ronpet and what I can expect to see for the upcoming year: a pristine field of snow, untouched and unsullied, just like the New Year.

I was both excited and worried, in all honesty, for this year’s festivities. I thought I had more planned than I actually did, I think. I’m not sure what it was that made me worry I wouldn’t be able to get it all done. I have to admit that working a full time job really cuts into the whole religion thing. I often feel that the amount of time and effort I would prefer to dedicate to something is not available to me because I have to go out and into the world, work for a paycheck that barely gets me by. But, I also understand that this is way of most people, so I am at least aware that I’m probably not alone with my unhappiness at the prospect.

Initially, that morning, I was going to lay my icons out to rejuvenate in the sun. This is something that I have done for the last two years and I like the idea. However, with Sekhmet currently in hiding until The Feast of Drunkenness, it didn’t seem right to have the other three icons out and about. So, I nixed this idea that morning. I prepared the usual daily devotions to my home altar shrine and set up the altar space I had been using for the intercalary days in preparation for that night.

It was a little crowded and a little hectic, but finally, I felt that everything was set up properly.

On my way to work that morning, I ended up stuck in stop-and-go traffic. This isn’t actually very usual for my trips into work. As I watched the time click slowly passed when I should have arrived at work, I began to grow crotchety. There I was, stuck in traffic because some idiot got into an accident. Fuming, I shot off the closest off-ramp and sat in a Dunkin Donuts parking lot to have a pep talk with myself. (By that point, I was already very late and had called into work to let them know I would be there when I got there, so I figured a pep talk wasn’t really pushing the limits of tardiness.)

I reminded myself, carefully, that I was at a crossroads with the New Year. Things were still resetting and that wouldn’t solidify until tomorrow. It wasn’t my fault that someone hadn’t taken extra precautions while [possibly] driving [recklessly] down the highway. While I did have to sit in stop-and-go traffic because of it, I reminded myself that not everyone can be prepared for the chaos that the reset of a new year can cause. And I also reminded myself that chaos tended to float around the days outside of the year and impact Wep Ronpet, even though it’s most often seen as an auspicious day. Calmed again, I went off to work and kicked some telecommunications ass.

When I got home, I immediately started fully planning the festivities. My first step was to create a sa. I used this guide to create it and I used this one for figuring out how to and what type of sigils I would use in the interior. I had decided to create the sa about a month ago and purchased the supplies when I went on my merry little chase for all things Wep Ronpet. I chose silken cords for the interior and exterior in white and red and ended up choosing red felt for the actual sa itself.

I went through my book, Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt by R.T. Rundle Clark for inspiration on what sort of sigils I wanted to use. It seemed appropriate that I would choose symbolism from ancient Egypt as opposed to anything that I myself would create. It seemed like it would be more effect, heka wise, if I chose something with extensive history. I ended up choosing the shen ring, the glyph for eternity, and the glyph for life. These three symbols were used to create this sa specifically as a protective amulet in my car. The message I was aiming for was, protection for eternity, protection for life; may a long life by lived. I also did create a personalized sigil specific to the aim as well.

I ended up finding out just how difficult it can be to braid something that isn’t your hair. I chose one red strand of cord and two red. I knotted them at the top and realized that, well, I had nothing to anchor the end to so that I could begin braiding. I ended up holding the knotted end in my mouth so that I could braid it all. When I got to the other end (measured against the length of the felt I had purchased), I knotted it together and beheld my work.

I also didn’t expect for the cordage to shrink so much because of the braiding. I had measure it out specifically to the length of the width of the red felt and hadn’t considered that I would end up with something that was completely hidden in its center. What I also didn’t expect was just how thick the damn red felt would get when I rolled it into a tube shape. It was thicker than any of my fingers and completely unwieldy. I ended up cutting it down until the sigils, which were in four strategic places on the inside, were at the very edge. When I rolled up the felt again, it was still pretty thick, but not as much.

It's fucking huge.

It’s fucking huge.

I had my son hold out his finger to me so that I could use that to tie a single white cord around the center to hold its shape. With that in place, I took a long strand of red cordage to wrap around it, creating the distinctive sa shape by pulling it as tightly as I possibly could. I then managed, with much concentration and a bit of power words (f-bombs, mostly), to string a white string in the center. I had originally wanted to thread white cordage around the sides of the rounded top, but was unable to do so because of how thick the felt was. I ended up just using the white thread to hold it together for when I tie it to my rearview mirror.

Once that was completed, I placed it on Sekhmet’s altar in the middle of the offering plate.

Booze it up, up, up.

Booze it up, up, up.

My next step was to hold a final celebration for the children of Nut and Geb. I ended up setting everyone up that morning, but chose to add an alcoholic beverage on top of the cupcake. I used my “royal cup,” which was a gift on my birthday last year. I didn’t use the crazy straw when I placed the vodka and diet Coke concoction down, but I did sing out that everyone had better get it before I snapped the damn thing up. Calories be damned; I was having me some vodka.

In a totally strange coincidence, by the KO calendar, my Wep Ronpet coincided with Heru-Wer’s birthday. I was enjoying all of the stories of peoples’ experiences with him throughout the day. Somehow, one of his kids (from KO) and I got onto the topic of getting him drunk as hell and it just kind of gamboled out of control until many people were offering him booze, whether they were celebrating his birthday or not. I joined in on this particular shindig and ended up with no fewer than two cups of alcoholic beverages out for him. I really can’t say if this was received properly or not (I had a distinct impression he had screeched, “CHALLENGE MOTHERFUCKING ACCEPTED,” at one point, but I could be mistaken).

It was fucking hilarious.

While this was going on, I danced around the house to a few tunes that deserve to be danced to. While I was shaking my booty up and down the hallway, I ended up pulling both my son and TH into the little festivity. With the three of us dancing around the kitchen until my knees and hips hurt, I figured we had done justice to the celebration of Wep Ronpet. And I have to admit, I was pretty happy to have had both of my boys join in since neither usually do.

While listening to calmer music, I ended up writing down 25 possibly dangers to execrate for the year ahead. I won’t list what I wrote down, but I will mention how I wrote them down: on a simple sheet of paper, I wrote a heading indicating why I was listing these words. I then went through a list of possible things that may come up in the next year and things that have been plaguing me this year, hoping to clear them from my life with this execration.

I took this and the heka I had been hoarding since November of last year and went outside to execrate.

It took two fucking hours to burn the massive chunk of heka. That’s right; I sat outside of my house, watching a myriad of visitors going to the bar across the street, for two fucking hours while every ounce of heka was burned into soft gray ash. I added my heka for the year to come to the pile and watched it blow the fuck up. In fact, in those two hours, it burned a soft steady coal red-orange and then would go back up into a pyre of flames when I stirred at everything. When I had enough (there were still some lit embers), I dumped the ash into the world in a pile.

I then stomped upon it and spat upon it. As I stomped I said, “I step upon your brows as pharaoh did to his enemies. I spit upon you so that you may know your vile presence is not needed. I beat you back as a pharaoh at the head of his victorious army. You are nothing. You are less than nothing. Be gone.” And then, I walked back inside.

I don’t know if I can really say if last year was a good year. I do know that I have hopes for the next year. And I hope, beyond all hope, that they come true and that the renewal of this year infiltrates my being, from my ba to my ka to my ib, until it is not just the year that renews, but myself as well.

I have high hopes for this upcoming year.

And right now, I intend on seeing those hopes come true.

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Intercalary Days 2014.

Last year’s intercalary days, I often felt like I was always rushing about in an effort to get everything done before the netjer‘s birthday the next day. I didn’t like how I always felt like I was about twenty steps behind, so I decided that I would change things up a bit. I decided to go for what I classify as “simplistic ritualistic birthday.” I don’t know if that’s really a proper descriptor for what I ended up doing, but I do have to say that it makes sense. I wanted a touch of ritual, but I also didn’t want to feel like what I was doing wasn’t enough. So, I made sure that everything I needed I had in advance and I spent one entire day preparing things before the actual celebrations.

I’ll tell you what I learned: as much as I despise planning ahead, it kind of helps in the long run.

I knew that I wanted to change up the “icons” I used of the gods during their birthdays. I had bought a really awesome coloring book last year and was able to color in the designated netjeru the night prior to their birthday. That was, in a way, a kind of communing action while I introduced myself to the three children of Geb and Nut whom I had not interacted with previously. While I enjoyed the coloring book, and still do when I need to unwind and want to color, I wanted something a little more… I don’t want to say “adult,” but sedate might work.

I ended up purchasing card stock from Michael’s. I chose two black sheets, thinking that I would write their names in hieroglyphs, all along the same size and shape. However, after I purchased the card stock, I realized that I also wanted to honor Nut and Geb as well. They are, after all, the parents to whom we should pay homage for having given us Wesir, Heru-Wer, Set, Aset, and Nebthet. So, after realizing that I wanted to honor all of them, I went back out and purchased five more sheets of card stock in colors that I felt were best associated with the five: Wesir was given green; Heru-Wer was given sand; Set was given red; Aset was given blue; and Nebthet was given purple.

I believe the last two associations are probably UPG related. The Aset icon that I have in my own, in the altar space of my home, has a lot of blue and blue-related imagery associated with it. I have always chosen this color for her, though I can’t quite decide why. Purple was a last ditch effort for Nebthet, to be honest. I don’t know her and I have had one minor interaction with her, which occurred last year on her birthday. Outside of that, she is a complete and silent mystery to me.

To write out the names in hieroglyphs, I purchased a glitter gold gel pen. It didn’t occur to me how I would actually write the hieroglyphs. I ended up realizing the night before the birthdays that I couldn’t free hand hieroglyphs. I don’t know what I was thinking. Perhaps I was hoping that I could utilize the hieratic form and go from there, but it occurred to me that I liked the full version, the actual hieroglyphs themselves. So, with TH’s suggestion ringing in my ears, I printed out their names in hieroglyphs, cut out each individual glyph, and taped it to the card stock to trace over with pencil. I think I spent a good two solid hours doing it, getting everything right.

Surprisingly enough, everything came out okay. I was really thinking that it would look terrible, but things works out in my favor.

In preparation for the intercalary days, I had to do some altar moving. I ended up packing away the things I had set up for the lwa on my bookcase in the kitchen and moved the household deities to there. This opened up the top of my blue cabinet as an available area to stage the intercalary and Wep Ronpet celebrations. But as much as I enjoy having that much space, I also felt that I needed appropriate covering for it.

I chose a plain black scarf, thinking about the black silt of the Nile when it floods. I then added blue for the water of the Nile, but also for the sky as well. To top it off, I found some birthday confetti on sale with stars in it. In all honesty, all that was missing was the red for the desert. The glittery “happy birthday” confetti kind of took care of that.

I placed the black scarf down first and then followed it with the blue. I then very haphazardly arrange the confetti into a non-pattern. My son helped me here, finding it greatly entertaining to be sprinkling stars and “happy birthday” onto scarves. What I didn’t think about was how those fucking glittery stars would follow me everywhere. The second I walked away from the cabinet when my rites to the netjeru were over, I found stars in my hair, on my sandals, and attached to random areas of clothing. (I’m pretty sure my butt never fucking touched that damn thing and yet, I found one on the back of my jeans one night. What even is that?)

I had purchased the confetti specifically looking for the stars. I wanted to have stars or star imagery associated with my five days because I had chosen black, a color I associate with Geb, and blue, clearly a color associated with Nut, for the foundation. It felt off though because Geb is the foundation – he is the earth, whereas is counterpart is the sky and ephemeral. I can touch Geb, but I can’t really touch Nut. So I wanted physical reminders of her in more than just the color of the scarf. But what I got was more of a birthday celebration than I had intended.

Since I went with the happy birthday confetti, I ended up buying cupcakes (and nothing else) as offerings for each day. I have a metric shit fuck ton of birthday candles lying around. (I legitimately don’t even know why because we always have birthday parties at TH’s mother’s house.) I knew I was definitely going to have a birthday party… if a little muted.

Wesir

I don’t think I’ve ever really had any interactions with him that have ever left me feeling like, “hell yeah, I’m all about the fucking Wesir.” I don’t honestly think Wesir has any interest in me whatsoever and I’m mostly okay with that. Even though I have deep associations with my akhu, I didn’t come by that through my Kemetic background. I came through that because of the interactions I had with the lwa and even though both Anup and Wesir could fill in the gap, I never once considered it. (And when I tried it with Anup once, he was just like, “oh fuck no.”)

Or, maybe Wesir doesn’t like my sense of humor. So, on the way into work on Wesir’s birthday, I thought, “hey whatever song that comes on… that song is for you!” And then I kind of felt like he was there, waiting to see what would come on next. And then it was Dead and Bloated by Stone Temple Pilots. If ever there was a more appropriate song… I laughed until I was crying, which was clearly not well received.

I didn’t feel him around when I lit his blue birthday candle and sang “happy birthday.”

Heru-Wer

I really liked Heru-Wer when I met him last year. That was a complete accident, but he was so down-to-earth and so relaxing to be around that I find myself often thinking of ways to see him in the world around me. Sometimes, when I see the hawks or falcons (whatever they are) that are flying on the road I drive down every day to and from work, I think of him.

This year was quieter than last year. I didn’t necessarily feel his presence as I did with Wesir. And unfortunately, no really appropriate songs sprung up on the radio when I was hoping for one. But I did go out and spend time with family while listening to a cover band. (They mostly played old C&W or rock/C&W.) When I got home, I sang him his song du jour and lit that birthday candle all happy like. I can’t say if he was really, really happy with how things turned out in my household, but I know the cupcake went down well.

I had a fleeting image of a giant hawk-headed man with chocolate crumbs around his beak and puffed out cheeks. That, to me, says an offering well received.

Set

I didn’t really feel much from Set. I’ve been kind of ignoring him, but I also understand that he’s rather busy. He’s come around a time or two, but whatever connection we may have had has since faded. I’ve been told to expect this with the myriad of netjeru in my life (and I can definitely state that the connections have faded for most of them since October of last year, but even more so since the bonding took place).

I gave him a pink candle in his chocolate cupcake. I sang happy birthday to him and made sure to refer to him as titit, at Devo’s request. (I guess this is slang of some sort for ‘peen,’ which is received by Set in varying shades of irritation.) I don’t know if the reference irritated him with me or not, but I found it amusing.

Aset

Yet another no-go here. Aset and I haven’t really spoken since I screamed at her in October of last year. I’m not sure if she’s angry with me or if she is just no longer interested in maintaining a relationship with me. Of course, something that most of the netjeru have come to expect or are finally aware that they will always need to take second fiddle to Sekhmet. Some deities, such as in the case of Djehuty and Heru-Wer, seem all right with this. But I don’t think this is something that Aset likes (as I’m finding out with someone else in a similar situation), so we haven’t spoken in nine months.

I still had to go through the motions, though. I gave her a blue candle in her cupcake and sang her happy birthday. I got more interest, I feel, from her parents than I did from her. But so be it. Second fiddle is the game and she will either deal with it or she won’t.

Nebthet

I got absolutely nothing from this little lady. I’m not really surprised, though. I’ve had a few conversations with other Kemetics and they have had similar experiences with her. I often wonder if she’s just too shy, especially considering how “important” her siblings were in antiquity. Or perhaps her quiet is just merely a part of her nature. Whatever the case may be, I have never felt a thing from her except for briefly and that was last year when I introduced myself to her.

I honestly don’t know what to say to her.

I chose a pink candle for her cupcake and again, as with her sister, I felt more of a rush from her parents than I did from her.

I was relatively surprised but also pleased with how this year’s celebrations turned out. They were quiet affairs. Outside of the candle in a cupcake and the repetitive singing of happy birthday, I felt very much as though I had accomplished something worthy. It’s possible that this feeling stems more from the good feefees I’ve had since I “swaddled” Sekhmet on Thursday (as Devo deems it) or if it’s because I planned something out in advance and it worked out (for once).

I will say that the card stock idea is probably one of the better ideas and I’m going to use it from now on. It’s much cheaper than having icons and while it’s time consuming printing out the glyphs and tracing them, it also makes me feel much, I don’t want to say it but it’s the only word coming to mind, closer. Since I am not an artist and since all I can do is write on behalf of my gods, being able to write their names in the language that they know best makes me feel like I can touch them, in a way, even better than having an icon does.

I plan on using this for any and all further celebrations in future with any and all deities that I don’t have icons for.

Prep.

I spent today cleaning, which isn’t very shocking. I live in a small household and I have a young child; cleaning is pretty much a daily occurrence. But with Wep Ronpet coming up, I knew that I wanted to get a handle on the hoarder like tendencies that had overtaken my kitchen table and wash down the walls [in public areas] in preparation for what was coming. I also knew I needed to make serious decisions about where certain things are headed and I had to make serious room for rituals that I’ve been nudged/pushed/shoved/hinted/informed/ordered to do this Wep Ronpet [season]. So, I had a lot of fucking stuff to do and I had decisions to make.

The main decision being, not that I was going to do these things because I was going to do the things, but where these things were going to take place. As I’ve mentioned numerous times, I live in a small house. I have my altar spaces in a public area (the dining room/kitchen area) so that I wouldn’t forget to give offerings daily. My house is built very strangely so I have the room to have tables just kind of hanging out, waiting around for things to go on them. The problem with this set up is that this is the only space where I can have these things, which means when larger rites are requested, such as those for Wep Ronpet, I need to consider where the hell things are going to be happening.

In a fit of pique last year, I purchased one of those shitty build-it-yourself bookcase for $20, which is where I housed the lwa and their related accoutrements. As I mentioned last month, the lwa have been missing in the last few months. I’ve thought about this issue not very much since I wrote that post because it’s painful. If I’m correct in my assumption that they’re gone, I know why (the lesson was learned) and that hurts. But if I’m incorrect and they’re just biding their time because right now is high Kemetic time, then I don’t want to be rash.

But I also need more fucking space to do things and to have things because, as much as I love the lwa and the relationships I’ve cultivated with them, my first calling has always been to the Kemetic gods. Or, to put it more clearly: they got first dibs. And their dibs, especially right now, are really fucking loud, really fucking non-negotiable, and really fucking important to get the fuck through. Maybe, just maybe, the lwa will come back with the cool air of the fall (hopefully around the same time when I start up my grave-tending services) and the winter months… since I’ve mentioned they tend to be, er, louder in winter. But, then again, maybe not.

Again, in the meantime, I need more fucking space.

With a heavy heart, I cleared off the bookcase I had purchased with the specific intent to house the lwa. I’ve turned this into my “household altar space.” Since I am, as anyone knows, a deity collector, I have a lot of fucking gods that I need to pay attention to at any given moment. Our relationships, for the most part, aren’t nearly as intense or as all-pervasive as my relationship with Sekhmet, which is to be expected. In many instances, the relationships I have had with the gods who have come poking around, looking for attention, have taken on similar aspects to the one I have with Geb (details, for those interested).

This is a real weight off my shoulders, by the way; I don’t think I can even explain adequately how overwhelming it can be to feel the need to pay attention to a dozen various netjeru at any given moment. I know there are other polytheists out there, like me, who have developed relationships or been pushed toward other deities/beings by their gods and have, in consequence, developed required attention-paying duties to said new beings/deities at any given moment. I’m actually in this boat, myself, so I decided that it would be best to kind of follow ancient Egyptian customs and just have a place where household type deities are paid attention to.

Of course, unlike the ancient Egyptians, I have deities within my “household” area that may not necessarily fit in with their dynamic. There is no Tawaret and Meskhenet holds no sway over me, either. But I do pay attention to Bes and Hetheru and Aset. I have since added the other flocks on over, telling them each morning that they can stop in for a bite and ask to share some cool water with the residents-with-icons (Hetheru, Djehuty, and Aset), if those residents are so inclined.

Seriously, this was the best fucking decision I have ever made.

In so moving my household altar space, I have also decided to open up my “hoarder fucking alert” cabinet. This is where the household space used to reside [on top]. Within the cabinet is, well, it’s a fucking packrat’s wet dream. Most of it is herbs and herb-related things for those off moments when I think, “Yes, I shall magic,” and utilize such things to get what I want. The thing is that these fucking jars are damn bulky and I would prefer to not have them in the cabinet. However, since I don’t up my stores of herbs and it can be a lengthy period of time between uses, I also don’t want them in direct light or in a public area where some yahoo can touch or where a child may break them.

(Magical parenting problems? Parents-who-magic problems?)

I decided to pull out the Tarot collection and toss it over underneath the household altar. I figure this is a good decision because then, I may be more inclined to use them again. My Tarot or oracle deck use has seriously gone down the fucking tube in the last year. I honestly don’t know if this is because I don’t have a lot of time to myself and I tend to need quiet time to read what the cards are telling me, or if it’s because I just don’t want to know what to expect or what could be coming my way. I guess that could be considered a stupid move – head-in-the-sand thing – but it’s kind of my M.O. about these things.

Also, I have decks that I either need to sell or give away. So, by pulling these out and putting them in a [more] public area, I’m kind of helping myself… maybe? I think that if I see the decks regularly, since they are on the second shelf of the bookcase thing, this might mean that I actually do something about all of that? Besides, outside of two decks that I really like, most of the Tarot are taking up space so that I can’t collect the ancient Egyptian themed decks that I actively collect with no purpose other than to own them. By getting rid of decks, then, you know, I have more space for things that take up that space.

Yes, I know these is clearly an issue, but it’s my issue and I like it.

As I began pulling out the Tarot decks, I discovered that I have a metric shit-fuck-ton of candles. I knew I had a lot because I have them hanging out all over the place in my house. This is not, by the way, packrat tendencies but concerns raised when I was out of candles during the entire fucking week my neighborhood was without power after the Halloween nor’easter. But, I have candles that don’t really aid with possible power outages… as in, I found an entire box of tea lights (white) and then random tea lights (four, scented) and then I found a bunch more tea lights (white) in a baggy. I don’t even know what I have all of these tea lights for or when I purchased them. The box has a sticker, though, which says I was planning all of this at a dollar store.

Now I have to decide what to do with them. They aren’t going to help me with this week’s ritual stuff. I have full-fledged candles already set up and I have an entire box of votive candles (white) that I have on hand for just such a purpose… on top of the smaller box of votive candles (also white) that I bought last week, sure that I had thrown out aforementioned large box.

Maybe I have more problems than I’m willing to admit.*

* This is actually quite possible. Hoarding is a family trait from my grandmother whose entire upper story was filled with useless tidbits. My mother and I have both found ourselves guilty of these things, even after swearing we would not be like my grandmother. This is why I go through my stuff, or try to, regularly and throw random things away/give things away because I swear I’m not doing this packrat/hoarder nightmare shit.

I love candles, but I think I’m at my candle limit. Hopefully, I will remember this moment and all of my candle ridiculousness the next time I am in a store that sells candles… even if they’re on sale or something.

After a lot of back and forth, I think I figured out a functional cabinet layout that will allow me to keep ritual items within it until I need them. I was able to clear space out from the drawer that I stash ritual items in (underneath Sekhmet’s space) and move things to the cabinet. Of course, though I have finally managed to get the damn thing closed with a modicum of belief that I was “successful,” I have to admit that I forgot other ritual items that will need to be housed within there. (They’re currently waiting to be cleaned.)

After about four hours of thinking, moving things, debating what can and cannot be kept out, and then re-thinking what I decided, I think I have a functional space. I also think I’m set up, mostly, for the physical things for Wep Ronpet and the Intercalary Days. Hopefully, these rites are successful and I end up happy with the end result.

Petition to Sekhmet – July Edition

I am rapidly beginning to understand why there is a dearth in the Kemetic community for heka hut type things. There is a toll on the person doing the heka hut that I, personally, didn’t take into consideration. With each month that comes by and each monthly rite and service under my belt, I am not only seeing some really heart breaking tales and requests, but I’m also beginning to see a pattern in what is requested and my responses to it. While I’m pretty used to what’s being requested – much is of the mental or financial assistance category, which makes sense considering the world climate we currently live in – but what I find disheartening is that with each new petition service having come and gone, I find myself more and more exhausted by the end of it.

All in all, it’s not even the actions themselves or the specific errands I must complete prior to the rite that tires me out, but the whole act relating to it. The next day, I wake up fairly early with the knowledge that I still need to spend some serious time on the actual blog entry itself relating to what occurred the evening before. And I find myself, more often than not, just sitting around with a blank look on my face, feeling like I haven’t achieved a damn thing and whatever energy levels I may have had are now currently out the window.

If this is what even a fraction of people have experienced when conducting these types of services, I can completely understand why they stop after a while. I think it’s kind of like burn out. And of course, while all of these service type things are happening, nothing else stops. There is still a life to live and still religious items to go through and deal with and still lessons to learn and still family to tend to and still a dirty fucking house that needs to be cleaned. I mean, it’s all still there, but it gets shunted to the side for a bit to complete the service and then, there it is, back and ready the very next day.

Yes, I can clearly understand why people don’t tend to do these things for such long periods of time.

With seven months of official rites under my belt, I’ve also noticed a steady decline in requests. I’m mostly okay with this because that means that I spend an hour writing down petition requests instead of multiple hours. However, it also leads me to wonder why the requests have dropped off. I find myself adding people into those requests whether they ask for one or not – people I care about, people within my community, who clearly need some assistance coming from somewhere.

I often wonder if the reason the requests have dropped off lately is because people aren’t seeing anything being done on their behalf. This might be fear (mine) talking, but it’s something I’ve thought about each month.

I don’t know if I have ever made it clear that Sekhmet decides on what she does or does not do. I have absolutely no say in who gets first dibs or who gets completely ignored. I would assume that the people who are just hoping that things end up dropped in their lap without doing any of the legwork are the people who are not seeing anything positive come out of this. Or maybe, it’s because whatever they are doing is insufficient and they need to do something else. Or maybe, people are just sick of seeing me put that request out there every month and they no longer give a shit.

I’m not sure it really matters.

I think I may try something different, though. This month was the last actual rite – next month is an oracular session. (Note to self: let’s be firm about how many people are admitted to this because you sucked last time and admitted like a million people more than you wanted.) I think, though, in September, I’m going to change up how I put out the request a little bit and see if that draws anyone new in or brings back frequent flyers.

The rite itself, as usual, was pretty simple. I had a couple of errands that I wanted to get through yesterday in order to meet up with Sekhmet during the service portion of my evening, fully stocked with what I wanted. However, I also had other errands that I needed to complete in preparation of Wep-Ronpet, which is rapidly approaching. (Wep-Ronpet is slowly but surely turning into something very different from what I’m used to.) So, I did the two burns with one stone shtick and managed to get everything that I wanted in about two hours… minus the rose petals.

I’ve pretty much just given up on rose petals for the time being, even though I really fucking love using red rose petals in my services. The last two bags that I had went bad before I could use them all, which irritates me beyond belief. I completely understand that I’m buying it and they are on sale so, therefore, I should use them quickly. But my ritualistic time table and the rotting-slowly time table of the rose petals are clearly not in sync. So, until I can be sure that I’m getting fresh rose petals that will last beyond two weeks, I’m going to have move passed that particular idea. In the meantime, I can still set a mean fucking altar if I want to.

Even without rose petals, it still looks pretty B.A., in my opinion.

Even without rose petals, it still looks pretty B.A., in my opinion.

I decided on a simple setting this month. I chose grapes and wheat bread for an offering. The only thing that I went a little overboard with was the CHOCOLATE. I saw this chocolate Swiss roll that was on sale at my local grocery store and it looked so delicious. It also had the fewest caloric intake when compared to all of the other delectable goodies on sale in the bakery. It was rich and fucking wonderful, by the way, and if they ever have it on sale ever again, I am going to buy it (possibly not with the intention of giving any to the gods, possibly only for me).

For this month’s flowers, I chose an orange type of color. I was hoping to add lilies to the whole shebang because I’ve been on a lily kick lately. However, none of the bouquets with lilies were in my price range, so instead, I found this really awesome orange and white bouquet for like $6. There were even roses in the bouquet and as anyone who has been reading my blog can attest, I fucking love using roses in my rites and whatnot. So, I can’t really tell if I was sold because of the orange roses or if it was just because it’s a color I associate with Sekhmet or perhaps both. But orange fucking bouquet it damn well was.

When I came home, I did some minor altar cleaning and then napped.

I realized at about three or so that I was fucking exhausted. I am an introvert and a homebody, in case no one was aware. So, all of the errand running kicked my ass coupled with yet another shit-tacular work week. So, my son and I ended up watching Mythbusters and fell asleep until well passed dinner time. (Seriously, I took like a 3 hour nap, which is unheard of. Give me an hour and I’m usually ready to bounce up and do the things. Or, well, not bounce up, per se, but like at least get shit done until I have quiet time.)

I added incense, booze-and-soda, and cool water to the altar before trying to find a box that I like for shrine purpose. (I failed. I found a bunch of boxes that I really liked and found issues with every single one. Then I found a bunch of boxes that I kind of liked and found issues with every single one of those, as well. I’m beginning to despair that I’ll find one in a timely manner – because I should have found one like well before now since this was “supposed” to be done with before Wep-Ronpet.)

While reverting the offerings, I sat around and did some thinking about what sort of changes I can expect in the next few weeks. I know there are a lot – there have been others who have confirmed that they’ve noticed BIG CHANGES on the horizon and with Wep-Ronpet rapidly approaching for Kemetics across the world, it’s really no wonder. (Wep-Ronpet can be a chaotic time for a lot of reasons and three years running, I’ve noticed that’s when shit goes down, at least in my life.) I have to hope that the BIG CHANGES are an easier confluence than the last few BIG CHANGES I’ve gone through.

Also, I have to wonder why in the hell 2014 is the year of BIG CHANGES.

Whatever the case may be, here’s to hoping that Wep-Ronpet heralds the end to them. And that with the burning of my last seven months’ worth of petitions, a new era will reign supreme. Or, if not a new era, I at least won’t have to stop because no one puts in requests anymore.

The Arm Flail.

Yeah, this is about right.

I often wonder if the gods find it amusing to watch their devotees going through the act of, what I deem officially from here unto forever, “Kermit Arm Flail Mode.” Anyone who reads that phrase knows exactly what it is that I am talking about; and for those who don’t, it’s easy enough to search online for the phrase and finding the appropriate image. (Or you can just look over to your right hand side and see exactly what I mean.)

It’s a visual representation that, I feel, encompasses much of the individuals who make up the wider pagan community at any given moment and quite often, it is a perfect representation of both my and other polytheists’ personal practices. I think there may even be a tag, on Tumblr, for just such a thing in the wider community. Whatever the case may be, many of us have moments where everything is melded together to encompass the very act by which Kermit is so well known: the arm flail.

The arm flail can happen because of anything, really, which makes it alarming is the frequency with which I see posts that can easily be encompassed within that phraseology.

I can remember as a newbie pagan, constantly feeling like I was in the middle of the longest and most drawn arm flail of my path. Everything could elicit the reaction: I didn’t hear the gods – arm flail. I wasn’t sure if they appreciated my offering of X – arm flail. I was pretty sure I was doing it all wrong – arm flail. There wasn’t an easily attainable manual that told me how to religion – arm flail. I accidentally tripped over my own two feet and dropped my offering – arm flail. I broke a nail leaving the altar – arm flail. No one could tell me what I was doing was correct – arm flail. People were mean to newbies – arm flail. People were assholes – arm flail. People were talking about frightening topics – arm flail. I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing – arm flail.

Over the years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve become less adept at the arm flail. Or, more likely, I’ve just become used to some things and I’ve learned to adapt because of other things and I’ve stopped allowing shit to accumulate that would frustrate me. Take your pick here because any of them will do. You see, I’m pretty sure that I do still do the arm flail, but the reasons behind it have become more personal and less, “what everyone else is doing.”

If you look at the above examples, there is a pattern. I was so busy worrying about what everyone else was doing that I ended up in the middle of a flail. And then I felt too stupid to live – tripping and breaking nails – in comparison to what other people were doing, thus a good flail was had. And then, as I got more used to what I was hoping to achieve and actually, possibly achieving it, I ended up letting events unfolding around me, and my lack of an adequate response to such things, cause me to jump into the class flail pose.

I think that’s one of the milestones in any polytheistic or pagan religion, by the way: the moment when what outsiders are doing doesn’t really impact you, at all. Now, I’m not talking about wider community impact because, well, assholes being assholes to newbies and fucking around by telling people what to do from their “one twoo path” egotistical trip is a problem and should elicit arm flail procedures. However, what I meant was that when you stop worrying about how your practice adds up and stacks against what everyone else is doing, then that’s the milestone.

Maybe we can think of that as, “Arm Flail Level 2,” or something.

The things that cause you to freak the fuck out and go into “Kermit Arm Flail Mode” are no longer based on what you think your practice should be based on because of what you see other people are doing. Instead, they are based on things you see happening within the wider community that are unsettling or things that are happening to you in a personal devotee capacity.

In my practice, level 2 was officially achieved when I began caring about the community, at large. Part of this was due to the people I hang out with – boat paddlers. I may not technically be one (I frankly don’t know if I really fit that title) but I hang out with a lot of them. I do try to emulate them in various arenas and it is through boat paddling, in my honest opinion, that Kemetics have such really wonderful things as “don’t be a dick,” “two response rule,” and the “don’t be a dick thing.” (I know, I mentioned it twice. It’s important enough to merit a million mentions, in one sentence even.)

But it was because of the boat paddling that I began to become aware of things outside of myself. And sure, being aware of things outside of what I was hoping to achieve is always a good idea. I mean, we should, at least, have an eyeball out there to see what the wider community is doing. Even for those of us niche enough, like Kemeticism, to not really fall under the “main stream” sobriquet should probably be aware of things that are going on. And since I was hanging out with a bunch of boat paddlers, I was intimately aware of what was going on.

And so, I entered “Arm Flail Level 2,” which to me is embodied by wider community ramification and bullshit.

I wrote a lot of community related posts when I entered that particular phase in the hopes of doing some good. However, after a while, it gets to the point where you get burnt the hell out with community and boat paddling. Sure, knowing what’s going on is a bonus but it can kind of eat you alive. This is why boat paddlers should have a hearty constitution. And since I don’t really think I have a hearty constitution, I have since removed myself from the situation.

Thus, I have moved from level 2 to the really awesome phase, “Arm Flail Level 3.”

But this is the really best part, I swear, and this is where I currently reside.

Instead of being sent into flail mode because of what others are doing that I thought influenced my personal practice and instead of being sent into this mode because of what other people are doing that influences the wider community, I have entered the best part. The part where my personal practice and all it entails is the be-all, end-all of everything. There is nothing more important than my personal practice and though I do still do community outreach work and while I do still offer myself out there in a semi-boat paddler capacity, the wider community is no longer an issue. The only thing that is an issue is what my path is, to me, and the odd twists it can take.

And boy, are those some odd fucking twists.

I find myself, not very often, in flail mode, but I have found myself in longer periods of flail mode. It’s not a single action of, “what the fuck now,” but an elongated process that is drawn out for however long before I figure it out. And sometimes, it can take me a lot of months to figure it out. Or, perhaps, it isn’t a matter of figuring it out at all that is causing the arm flail. Perhaps, it’s the simple matter that I have figured it out and I don’t like it. Just because I’m in arm flail mode doesn’t necessarily mean it’s because I’m lost and fucking confused, but it can just as easily mean that I don’t particularly like what the fuck I’m seeing/feeling/doing/being told.

Maybe it’s less arm flail mode level 3 and more like, whining baby hissy fit. In either case, it just means I’m more often just telling anyone who is willing to listen, “I am not this thing. I am not doing this thing. It’s not happening. Are you listening?” And then when it’s painfully clear that they are not, in fact, listening, I am then thrust into the middle of arm flail mode level 3.

I don’t know if this is a contest among the gods, but I’ve often thought that it probably should be: how long can I keep X devotee in arm flail mode? And then, there is a contest once a month or maybe once a quarter or once a year between all of the gods and they point out that they were able to keep their devotees in arm flail mode, level fucking three no less, for so much time. And of course, those of us who are in that mode are on the verge of tears, trying to figure out what the fuck we’re fucking doing.

Of course, the gods are probably laughing it up.

Yes, it’s kind of like this. However, there is usually less of a smirk on my face and usually a blank stare.

In the interim, many people are rapidly beginning to understand the “Kermit Arm Flail Mode” is a normal and safe reaction to any particular deviation that our seemingly obvious paths are somehow taking. And they are rapidly becoming “old hat” when their spiritual lives end up at these deviations. Sometimes, I legitimately just wind up curled in a ball because of all of the flailing – with sore arms no less – and internally scream until I can smile through it all. Most days, I just wind up keeping my nose to the grindstone, hoping that someone will listen to what I would like things to look like.

Then again, I’m used to the “bigger picture” conversations by now and I very much recognize that our wants and desires do not always figure into this. (Let’s be real here: I tend to believe that none of our wants and desires actually figure into anything unless they meet the end game, specifically the “bigger picture” that gods are always on about.)

So, instead, arm flail mode and internal screaming about all the things I’m not doing or I’m not willing to admit is possible.

This sounds about as productive as it obviously is.

Kemetic Round Table: The Mysterious Godphone!

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!

The amount of times that I’ve seen someone reach out, in desperation, asking about godphones is enlightening. It leads me to believe that many newbies enter into their chosen paths with this intense desire to have one. I honestly suspect that newbies seems to think that the ultimate culmination in a fulfilling and intensely personal devotional relationship is the ability to hear their deity clearly and concisely on a regular basis. Considering all of the myriad of things that can go into a devotional relationship and considering all of the different little side paths that relationship can wander down, I honestly have to wonder if maybe the focus on the godphone thing is a good idea. I mean, of all the things to aspire to, newbies want to talk to their gods on a regular basis and hear things back? Just from an outsider’s perspective that may sound kind of silly. From an insider’s perspective, I have to admit, it still sounds pretty foolish.

And to be perfectly frank, I wouldn’t ever think that the ultimate culmination in a devotional relationship has anything to do with hearing the gods, but has to do with feeling as though you are doing it right. But, that’s just me; people often tell me that my opinion on various subjects isn’t exactly mainstream or normal.

If only it were as simple as dialing a number...

If only it were as simple as dialing a number…

For those not in the know, the godphone is exactly what it sounds like: it is the ability to have open lines of communication between yourself and your deity. The phrase, “godphone,” actually began its life as a joke, but has since metamorphosed into the thing seen today: the intense and earnest desire to be able to communicate with the gods on a regular basis. As with all forms of titles and linguistics, aspects to its original definition (in this case, a trait specific to individuals who were capable of communicating regularly with their gods) have since changed to encompass the heart-wrenching cries from the neophytes for some sign from their gods (in this case, the desire to be able to communicate regularly with the gods).

It honestly astounds me with how many people have posts running around, specifically on Tumblr, discussing the desire for one. It honestly goes to show that the desire to have that personal relationship with the gods appears to be universal, no matter what type of path one may be on. It also goes to show that my suspicions regarding Christianity and the lack of ability to have that kind of personal relationship is possibly why so many people are converting to other forms of religious traditions. Be that as it may, and my suspicions have no bearing on anything, the godphone phenomena is picking up speed and there are no breaks on this particular crazy train…

Having a godphone is incredibly painful, incredibly difficult, and can open a giant can of worms for those afflicted. Of course, outsiders, who are very busy looking in without knowing the specific nuances of the relationships they’re stealing peeks into, are just going to assume that we’re bitching and moaning. The thing is that having a godphone can lead to a lot of doubt, a lot of issues, and a lot of hemming and hawing over your own grip on sanity. These are aspects, though, that most people aren’t going to take into consideration if they’re looking in. All they see is the glitz and glamor of being able to communicate regularly with the gods; they’re not going to take into consideration what those messages may contain or even what those messages may mean to the person who is receiving them.

This is actually what it's like more often than not.

This is actually what it’s like more often than not.

As someone with a godphone, I can tell you just how much I doubt my sanity – daily. Every morning, I wake up after having had some intense dreams or experiences with various netjeru and I have to wonder if I’m making it all up. Just because there is historical contexts for communication via dreams, especially within the ancient Egyptian religion, doesn’t matter much to me. Historical information is well and fine, but I have to wonder if the ancient Egyptian priests or the people of ancient Egypt who did dream divination in their temple of choice ever had moments where the gods told them, “do the shadow work or your life is forfeit,” or “I need you to kill this spirit for me in as painful a way as humanly possible and no, I’m not going to tell you why,” or “Can you please just shut the fuck up about how much you hurt and kneel on this stone floor for months on end without me telling you why you’re doing this?”

Something tells me that my godphone-like experiences and their godphone-like experiences are two aspects of a single spectrum… with a huge fucking brick wall in the middle.

What makes it worse are the glimmers of feelings that I get regarding something.

I can go for days with this intense need to go and sit on the lawn, for example, for absolutely no reason whatsoever. And if I don’t do it, then I start to get really fucking bitchy and annoying to those around me because I have this inexplicable fucking desire to SIT ON A LAWN FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER (and no, it couldn’t possibly be my lawn because that makes sense) and it won’t go away until I finally do it. And of course, it’s only as I do it that I realize that this is some weird act of devotion to –insert deity here–. Or, the really fun part where I have incredibly random song lyrics stuck in my head on endless repeat until I figure out the meaning behind such things.

And of course, we can’t possibly forget those intense moments where I am sitting in a slightly meditative state and I have actual conversations with the deity in question.

This is all just so joyful.

I know, I know. I’m sounding about as bitter as I probably feel. And I really do apologize for anyone who came into this entry, hoping for something that wasn’t bitter. I can’t help that there are moments where I honestly have to wonder if this is even worth it. Like, is this helping me at all? I don’t think so, but I can’t know that because I have a godphone and it works. So, I can only wonder if the grass is really greener on the other side and of course, those without are just assuming that the grass really is greener on the other side.

But how do I live with it and still manage to live my life?

In all honesty, I tend to ignore things a lot. While the gods may think that whatever message they’re pushing on me is important, I have things to do like pay the bills, tuck in my son, walk my dog, and any other random and mundane things. The gods’ time lines and my time line may not exactly add up, which is quite possibly why I can get so bitchy about not understanding the message or feelings that I am receiving. Whatever the case may be, I just continue to do my regular and mundane thing, hoping that at some point in the future, it will become clear.

And if it doesn’t become clear to me in what I feel is a timely manner, then it’s a back burner kind of thing. If it’s not important enough for the gods to tell me in a way that I would clearly and truly understand on the first try, then it’s something that I will pull out and mull over when I have a free moment or three to do so. However, if they feel like using some form of confusing hand gesture or Wing Ding to communicate with me, then they’ll just have to be patient with me.

The thing about godphones, too, that many people don’t seem to understand is that they arne’t always reliable. Things happen and life happens, which can cause “reception” to go down. It’s very much, in my experience, like a bad cell phone connection: the call is crackling, words are echoing, and there are whole aspects to the conversation that you’re missing out on because it went silent for about 30 seconds. The cell phone companies may go on about “better and more reliable networks” but the gods haven’t upgraded, in my opinion. There are still long stretches of time where I have to hope that I’m getting the message down properly.

This is, honestly, why I will put off things for as long as I do. I like to be sure that the intense desire, for example, to randomly sit on some stranger’s lawn is because an OTHER™ is telling me to do it versus, I just think that they are telling me to do it. When it comes to godphones, discernment is important. And maybe, the message came in all garbled. Perhaps there is more to all of this than just sitting on a lawn: maybe I was given specific instructions, but the message came through on such a shitty connection that all I am getting is the need to sit on some random person’s lawn.

If the feeling goes on long enough, I assume that I’m either losing my marbles or it’s time to sit down on some random person’s lawn, hoping that I’ll get something in return for all of it. Unfortunately, usually it’s more garbled messages that I have to parse out on my own.

I think, though, that the one thing most people without a godphone just don’t take into consideration – even with all the other things I’ve listed here – is that it can and will go down, for no reason. Phone lines go down fairly often enough. Usually, the actual lines themselves won’t go down but there will be an issue on the carrier level that prevents calls from connecting properly or at all. In this technical (and possibly boring) metaphor, we can make the correlation that the same thing can and will happen to those with godphones – and then where will you be after having been informed that you really need to rely entirely on your godphone?

Nowhere.

Godphones are capricious things, in my experience. I mean, just look at it from here:

  1. Not everyone has one.
  2. Not everyone has them utilized in the same way.
  3. Not everyone can confirm others’ godphone-ing.
  4. Not everyone can use theirs all the time.
  5. Not everyone has clear reception.
  6. Not everyone hears the godphone in the same way.
  7. Not everyone can use the godphone regularly.

These are all things that I’ve mentioned and discussed in this very entry. Based on this list, it looks like godphones are not really an effective form of communication when it comes to devotional relationships. But again, that’s just me! Outsiders are always going to formulate an opinion on something they have no experience with based on minute glimpses into what seems like the “promised land” or, on the flip side, what seems like “a bunch of bullshit.”

When my godphone starts acting up, I honestly just enjoy the respite.

After months and months of having intense and regular communication with the netjeru, sometimes I need a break. And I would like to assume that they need a break from me. You can’t always be in the presence of your family, your friends, or your partner, can you? Possibly not without wanting to kill any of the above mentioned. I would assume that it’s the same for the gods with their godphone-enabled devotees. And possibly even the same when it comes to those devotees with their godphone-enabled. I mean, I can tell you that there are long moments where I would very much like a break, need a break, and damn it, Sekhmet, just shut up for five minutes okay?

This is what it used to be like before I discovered that I have the godphone.

This is what it used to be like before I discovered that I have the godphone.

I can remember when my godphone wasn’t very active. It was always there since, I feel, it’s something that you either have or you do not, but not having it turned “on” all the time made my life much easier. I didn’t doubt myself as much and I didn’t worry as much about what I was seeing/being asked to do/thinking about/feeling the need to do. Since I didn’t need to rely on this internal thing that allowed me to have these conversations and nudges, I often checked in with Tarot cards or oracle decks, hoping that what I was doing was all right.

And since divination is an imperfect science, it meant that I was left frustrated and angry because I couldn’t hear what the fuck they were trying to tell me. I could only hope that I was interpreting what I was seeing properly. But even with that frustration in the background, it was still easier. Even if I was completely misinterpreting whatever the hell the cards were telling me – and I had on quite a few occasions – I was still able to go back and check either with another deck or with another user of divination at some later date in time.

Without the godphone, I was always able to double and triple check myself; I could confirm what was being said or done or seen in the cards. Confirmation via the cards now is iffy at best since I’ve been told, repeatedly, that relying on “outdated communication is no longer necessary.” Too often, I spend hours trying to figure out why the hell that card is in the same reading as this other card and… well, it’s just not working out as well for me now that I have the ability to communicate “regularly.”

There are days, and I’ll admit that it’s at least weekly, that I miss the simplicity of divination to figure out what in the world is happening in my devotional relationships.

Further Reading

  1. The Godphone
  2. Entries Tagged “Godphone” by Devo
  3. What is a Godphone? by Del
  4. The Godphone Thing by Alex
  5. GLE on Godphones
  6. Godphones and Godspouses at Adventures in Vanaheim
  7. Everywhere a Godphone by Myriad
  8. Discernment by Devo

Grounding and Centering: A Guide.

I go through periods where I start to feel as if my skeleton is trying to jump out of my body. I’m probably not alone here. I’ve seen remarks on various blogospheres and overheard friends saying similar things, so I can at least admit that I’m not alone when I feel this way. It gets to the point, sometimes, where I am so fucking jumpy and uncomfortable in my skin that I feel very much like I’ve been mainlining caffeine for weeks and am now just rushing around on the high. Days and weeks can pass before I even recognize my own patterns enough to realize that I’m having some issues. When it finally dawns on me that I am falling into old patterns – can’t sit still, nothing sounds right when I write it, everything pisses me off, and nothing I do is seemingly good enough – I realize that it’s been a while since I’ve done something to center myself and I should probably work on that.

The thing is, when I first noticed this issue a few years ago, all of the advice I found on those self-help websites was just a load of shit.

In every do-it-yourself guide or “Seven Easy Days to Spiritual Nirvana” type book that is out there, they tell you to ground and center. They tell you to be with the trees and throw down some roots and just go to town with sending all that wonky energy into the earth. They tell you about how that’s the whole point in Mother Earth and just toss it right on down and bring in the good energy that Mother Earth is surely wanting you to have. I tried absolutely everything I could do in order to get down with some trees and send that useless energy right where it belongs. The thing is that I realized something pretty quickly: while I can visualize this all happening, I don’t want to be a fucking tree. I’m a human being with human emotions, which occasionally get so out-of-control that I end up feeling like I’m going to puke our rainbow chunks of emotional cartilage at the next person who looks at me. None of these are things that, I think, trees go through. Besides, if I wanted to be a tree or at least act like a tree, I would have probably have signed up for being a tree in my next life.

I chose to come out a human being and to be a human being, so why the hell am I going to emulate trees? Sure, they’re nice to look at it. They do really awesome things like purify air (or some shit) and they provide shade in the heat. But, I don’t want to emulate one in any context. I just want to get this energy overload out of me.

With every ounce of advice I’ve seen on websites, in books, and going around Tumblr, I’ve just kind of had to shake my head at all and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” I liken myself to Finn the Human from the episode, Up a Tree, I’m ready to make my break from all of that bullshit. I don’t need a bunch of people trying to induct me into their tree-loving cult. I’ll just go right on ahead and find my own way, but of course, next comes the question: if you can’t ground and center like the people who are “in the know” tell you that you should, then what the fuck are you supposed to do?

Quite often, I think we all forget that as children, we would do things that would ground and center us. We would run around with our friends, ride bikes, climb trees, play games, and do any number of things that, upon reflection, can clearly be seen as acts bent on grounding and centering ourselves. I can’t even tell you how many times a week, when my son is running around like a wild child in somebody’s yard or just generally all over the place with the other kids, that I hear someone say to me, “He is going to sleep well tonight.” And it’s not really that he’s going to run himself down, but that he is subjecting the world and his family and his friends unto the energy build up in his little body, sending it out and into the universe to do what it will while it leaves him a fraction at a time.

To me, it seems like the people from that in-the-tree-part-of-the-tree mentality seem to think that we, as adults, can’t do that or shouldn’t do that. We have to send all of that energy into Mother Earth while we take energy in return. And I think, people, as a whole, frown on the idea of adults doing the things that children do in order to release all of that pent up energy. But honestly, I have to say that’s bollocks (both parts). If it works for a bunch of six-year-olds, playing hide-and-go-seek and shouting their fool heads off, why can’t we, as adults, do the same fucking thing but with adult-like things? Not doing that, in my opinion, doesn’t make a damn lick of sense when it did fifteen, twenty, thirty, or more years ago when we were all just children, shouting into the darkness with our friends.

When I first realized that I wasn’t going to be able or willing to follow what everyone always said “worked,” I have to admit that I flailed a bit. There is something almost comforting in the idea of being like everyone else. It means that what they do will absolutely work for you and whatever hard work one must put in to discover what works for the individual is not your problem. However, I am an individual and while I think trees are fucking nifty, I’m not going to act like one because I’m out of sorts and overly bitchy. This, of course, meant that I had to start figuring out how to get to that magical state, or really mundane state, of not-going-to-kill-bitches-today. While killing someone is probably highly therapeutic, the court system highly frowns on such practices. So for those of us – because I know that I’m not alone here – who aren’t down with the tree shenanigans, it means it’s time for some trial and error.

Some good news, though, about my having felt as if my skeleton were getting ready to go around on walkabout is that I have a list of possibilities! The bad news is that it is going to take whatever intrepid reader is interested in exploring these options some trial and error before they figure out what works best for them. Again, as much fun as it may be to be like everyone else, we are all individuals. What works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for anyone else reading this. But perhaps, by offering these suggestions, it will give people worried and freaking out (and possibly seconds away from ripping off peoples’ faces) something to consider before they get to the breaking point (and possibly rip off peoples’ faces).

1. Dancing

I think this is probably one of the biggest suggestions that people of the not-a-tree persuasion recommend. And I honestly have to admit that I don’t listen to this advice very often. I should, though, because there is just something about getting hot and sweaty, heart-pumping and booty-shaking that can really bring things into focus or loose them into the atmosphere to disappear on the a wave of pent-up energy. And the act of dancing doesn’t even have to be anything over-the-top, either. Sometimes, I don’t have the ability to do much actual dancing for lots of reasons: self-conscious, not enough room, stuck in a car, etc. So, sometimes, to me, releasing that pent-up, fuck-off-everything energy is as simple as tapping my feet or fingers to the beat of whatever is on the radio. Or, maybe it’s wiggling my butt while I’m sitting on the couch writing a blog entry (as I am actually doing right this moment). But sometimes, you actually need to get up and just fucking go with it, with a partner or without. Whatever the case may be, dancing should definitely top the lists of all people in the not-a-tree group of individuals.

The song, in my experience, doesn’t even really matter, either. I will dance to whatever the fuck I want to, whenever the fuck I want to. I’ve spent whole days listening to 50s classic rock and dancing the out-of-sorts a way. I’ve spent my drives home from work, overwrought from a long day of intense bullshit, listening to something like Painkiller by Three Days Grace or Desperately Wanting by Better than Ezra in an effort to get that feeling out of my bones. Right now, I’m actually obsessively listening to Timber by Pitbull feat Kesha while I wiggle this shit right the hell out of my system. Whatever the hell you choose is entirely up to you and how the fuck you get your body moving doesn’t matter; the only thing that matters is that you get your ass in gear and start moving.

2. Walking/Jogging

This probably goes hand-in-hand with dancing. I think it’s one of the more popular recommendations out there for those of us who don’t belong to the part-of-the-tree group of people. As with dancing, it is the act of doing something that gives you what you need in order to release all of that fuck-shit-up energy going on with you. I spent a lot of time, for months, just walking randomly wherever the hell my feet were willing to take me. I had no particular goal in mind because it wasn’t the act of walking that was important. The important part was that I was feeling incredibly out of control with everything going on around me and I needed a form of escape. To me, becoming one with the trees doesn’t help me when I want to escape the “rah” screaming fits that I may feel deep inside. However, doing something, like dancing or walking, was exactly what I needed in order to get out from under the pressure of the energy build up.

I would spend hours walking around my neighborhood, just putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes, I would listen to music as I walked and sometimes, I didn’t. It all depended on how quickly I needed to get somewhere before I felt like I was going to rip someone’s face off or break into a thousand pieces because of the overload going on. Whatever the case may be, it was the act of actually moving that helped me to focus my mind long enough to try and find a way out from underneath everything that was poking my insides and making me feel as if I was getting ready to jump out of my skin.

3. Baking

It was only when I was unemployed that I realized how much I really enjoyed baking. It’s an organized activity that requires (if you’re following a new recipe, at least) exact requirements and attention. This appeased my obsessive compulsive side. However, the act of actually mixing everything together is just a mind-numbing enough project to not really require you to pay attention it. It was a perfect mix to make both sides of my personality feel at peace. And each action – by adding an ingredient – can help to release some of the pent up aggression/out-of-sort/da-fuck-am-I-feeling that’s going on. As the process of baking goes on, I start to slip into the rhythm of it. It gives me something to focus on enough to not feel as if everything I am attempting to do is going to turn into some fucked up piece of shit, but it also gives me enough creativity to allow myself a little free reign with what I’m making. And the more you do it, the more comfortable you get with the overall process, so you’re less likely to behave like a wreck when you’re adding new things.

But each action that is required for the overall baking process can be used to release some tension in specific areas, too, which is why I think it’s such a good way to get my head back to where I need it to be (under my skin). Cracking eggs? Good for being pissed off and needing to take some anger out on something. Need to make sure butter is soft before adding it? Good for staring moodily into space while you get your head in the game. Measuring out enough flour? Good for control freaks feeling out-of-control. You see? Every aspect to baking can be used to help bring your head back under control in some context. If that’s not fucking awesome, then seriously, what the fuck is?

4. Dishes

I hate doing laundry and I hate cleaning, but I don’t actually mind doing the dishes. (Sh, no one tell my ex-husband and my ex-roommate that because, let me tell you, I put up some damn fights about washing the dishes.) During the phase that I was unemployed, it was a simple enough chore to get done early in the morning. And it was during this chore that I found that I had the ability to let my mind wander enough to figure out whatever may have been bothering me at the time. There is something about mindless actions, specifically the repetitive actions, that calms my mind enough to focus on something long enough to start to explore why I may be feeling so out-of-sorts. Occasionally, I’ll find that I have absolutely no fucking reason and it’s because, well, I’ve been so do-do-do that I’ve stopped to take time for myself. And while doing something as chore-like as the dishes might not seem like taking time out for oneself, it is in my book. My hands are busy and it’s something that I can’t really fuck up, but my mind isn’t busy and it’s able to traverse whatever little rambling road it may feel like walking down. It’s actually when I’m doing the dishes that I have some of my more intense epiphanies regarding my religious path, so I suppose it’s something akin to meditating (which isn’t something I am able to do). But it’s also the time when I am able to stop whatever the fuck wildness is going on in my life long enough to come back to myself feeling a little relieved and a lot less as if my skin is going to jump right the fuck off my bones.

And with baking, the very act of cleansing the dishes can be seen as an overall metaphor for grounding and centering. The dishes are dirty – they’re a metaphor for how cray-cray the feelings are getting. The soap and sponge are the act of meditating into the state where you can finally find your center. The rinsing off of the soap is the grounding as you send the nasty fucked up energy off into the sewer system. You see? Even though I’m not a fan of the whole part-of-the-tree cliques out there, I can still find the metaphor useful when I find something much more workable, for me.

5. Card Shuffling

It’s difficult for people, I think, in my particular individualistic ground-and-centering genre to meditate like the be-like-trees group tend to talk about it. They tend to make it seem like a very mystical experience and I get that, to a degree. However, I have found that I can’t really mediate, which may be why I have a hard time with the be-a-tree mentality. Whatever the case may be, I’ve found that many of my grounding and centering techniques are a form of meditation that allow me to let loose long enough to release the pent up energy going on inside. Part of these acts is shuffling any one of my myriad of Tarot decks. The act of actually shuffling the deck quiets my mind enough to settle on whatever it is that may be causing me to feel so out-of-control to finally get it under control.

By shuffling, I’m giving myself the quiet time that my body needs in order to get to where it should be. And the act of actually pulling the cards is me flicking the excess energy into the universe, while also seeking all of the Tarot answers that may be available to me.

This isn’t the complete list of things that I’ve found to aid me with grounding and centering. Depending on the situation, and just how overwrought I may be feeling, I may do something smaller or something more expansive than what I’ve listed here. The point being that it’s not all sitting around and trying to act like trees. Sometimes, it really is just all about getting up and fucking moving enough to unleash the turmoil going on deep inside by whatever [legal] means necessary.

Self-Care: Work.

After realizing that I probably had no idea what self-care actually was and that I would need to build the foundation of my self-care from the ground up, I began stopping frequently to evaluate what it was that I was doing. I thought that it would be best to take a look at my normal, everyday actions and see if I felt that they merited entry in the mostly empty “self-care” category. I had been so focused on just having shadow work equate to self-care that I had been ignoring things. Sure, mental and emotional health is fine and dandy, but I’m not just a mind and heart: I’ve got limbs and teeth and organs that need to be taken care of, too.

So, I would do the dishes and ask myself if this was a part of self-care. And I would walk the dog down the block and wonder if that was part of self-care. And I would play a game on my phone for way too many rounds and wonder if that was self-care. And I would stand out underneath the sun, soaking up the rays before it got too warm, and wonder if that qualified as self-care. And I would sit on the couch and stare moodily into the distance, berating myself for my perceived failures at work that day, and definitely declare that probably wasn’t part of self-care.

I could find that I have a lot of negative habits, mostly rooted in deep-seated neuroses and anxieties that have to do with things from a while back, and that none of them really belong in the self-care category.

I tentatively had a game plan. I was doing okay, mostly, with the mental and emotional things that I felt were included in the self-care definition. I had a bunch of physical things, though, that I had to work on. And I began working on them, but I found that every week, I was backsliding somewhere.

That’s to be expected, of course, because I’m doing new things and attempting to teach myself to do those new things. However, when I was saying, “I will do these things and it will be great,” at the start of the week and within two days, on the verge of tears, eating an entire bag of M&Ms, bemoaning a million things and thinking about how much my self-care maybe didn’t mean that much to me, I thought perhaps there was an underlying cause.

Well, I was stressed the fuck out, which is probably a pretty normal cause in not doing self-care related things.

Instead of paper balls, envision me with a flag under telephone lines and phone systems. (Source unknown.)

Instead of paper balls, envision me with a flag under telephone lines and phone systems. (Source unknown.)

I thought about the main cause in that stress – work – and wondered how I could diminish my stress levels while still achieving the ultimate goal of having a roof over my head. You see, I was beginning to notice that because I was stressing out about work related things, it wasn’t just impacting my self-care. Oh, no; it couldn’t just impact a small facet of my life like making myself better in some form or another, but had to effect all facets of my fucking life. Everything that could go wrong was going wrong and things were burning down around my ears and the even transient thought about trying to work on shadow work was laughable while I was so busy barely able to focus on breathing properly.

I’ve been down this road before and it didn’t end well for me.

As a probably not very quick backstory…

I worked for a job that I was really good at as a manager of a convenience store. I got moved to a store where managers went to get fired. Every manager who was ever put in that store was told to “clean it up,” which mostly meant there were personnel problems. Well, and that was fine because I had managed to clean up (mostly) the store I had been in before moving there, except that the personnel I needed to get rid of her been hand-picked by the owner of the company. So, it was kind of a catch-22. And knowing that, I got stressed the hell out.

Things were falling down around my ears and everyone said that it would be okay. So I began looking for other jobs, but not seriously enough, I suppose. Within three months of being sent to that store, I got fired. I didn’t even get fired for anything that I had actually done or said but because they wanted to fire my star employee. I got caught in the crossfire of all that and ended up with a serious dose of anxiety about working and jobs.

I remember how stressed out I was before, almost magically, it all stopped the moment that the security officer entered my store to inform me that my services were no longer required. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. When I did sleep, I was dreaming about work. My interpersonal relationships were failing because I couldn’t focus on a damn thing. I spent most of my time away from work either thinking about work or watching really bad horror movies in an effort to not think about work. (Bad horror movies are a passion of mine and I really can’t tell you how much they’ve helped me over the years when things get bad.)

I can feel the stress levels rising with work, but I also know that I’m pretty much set for a job. I could probably get away with a lot of not-working before anyone realized that I was too apathetic and pitched me out the door. Not that it matters because, as much time as I stare blankly at the computer screen in front of me at work, having a silent panic attack about something, I still manage to do a lot of shit in between the staring. But the stress levels are impacting me again, across the board, and I find myself coming home, more often than not, thinking about hiding in a corner and crying.

None of this seems very in tune with self-care, at all, does it?

This past weekend, I realized that I needed to do something for myself in this situation. I was so focused on what I may or may not be failing at for my boss, for my co-workers, for my clients and forgetting that I have a say in all of this, too. And as important as making sure that everyone that my work-related actions impact are seen to, I am the more important person because, if I’m not functioning properly, then I can’t do anything else properly. And as part of a quote by Parker Palmer attests, “Self-care is never a selfish act.”

Perhaps, if I tell myself that often enough, I won’t feel so bad?

How do you actually relax? And how do you just cross stress off the to-do list? Isn't it always, like, there? (Source unknown.)

How do you actually relax? And how do you just cross stress off the to-do list? Isn’t it always, like, there? (Source unknown.)

But what is the easiest way in order for me to relieve the burden of stress? I can’t just cross out stress. No matter how many memes are made about how you can just cancel out stress, it’s really just not that simple. Even if you know the root cause of the problem, treatment isn’t necessarily easy or painless.

Of course, the simplest answer is to leave the job. Unfortunately, as much as my instincts are screaming at me to run as far away as humanly possible, I don’t think swapping out one form of stress for another form of stress is really the way to go here. It seems very much as though self-care would be really thrown out the window by doing that.

The next available option is to bide my time while I job hunt.

I’m not sure if this is really the best answer, but I do know it’s an affirmative action towards removing stress and heading back towards self-care. I can’t do anything about the client that is causing me the most stress acting like an asshole and unable to take responsibility for themselves. I can’t do anything about reminding my co-workers that I am fallible and make mistakes (they seem to think that I don’t?) and I can’t do anything about reminding them any more emphatically that I am one person with about a trillion projects and can’t fine tune everything all at once. What I can do is look to myself and my desires. And my desires are saying: get the fuck out, homeslice.

So, I’ve been job hunting. I have found three jobs that I have applied for this week. According to the unemployment class I had to take when I was unemployed, in order to find a new job, one has to search between 5 – 8 hours a day in this economy. I don’t have the time or the ability to do that. Even though I spend a bit of my time staring blankly at the computer screen, it’s mostly because I am mentally incapacitated, semi-frozen, and barely able to register anything. So, I have to job hunt when I can, which is after work.

Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that the jobs in my area are kind of scarce. Well, the jobs in my area that I am qualified for and willing to take. I’ve had to cross off a bunch of prospective jobs because they are part-time or the pay inducement isn’t enough or because I just can’t with retail any longer. But this is one of those instances, where I have to decide how much of these stress levels that I can handle before I flip my shit. (When I flip my shit, it can be pretty epic and I usually end up fucking myself over, honestly.) The thing is that, too, I feel that I am worth so much monetary value, I would like to have very good benefits (my current job has PTO and that’s it), and I would like to feel like I am doing something beneficial instead of babysitting a bunch of IT departments who haven’t had the time and wherewithal to accurately learn about their telecommunications service.

When I started thinking about self-care, I didn’t really consider it beyond my body. I didn’t even consider the physical body, at all, at first and it was only after serious thought that I began to encompass that into what I realized that self-care should be. I thought of it as a strict physical, mental, and emotional fashion after my initial post on the subject. There was nothing else. And while stress can impact all three forms that humanity has about them, it still didn’t occur to me that work and having a stress-free work environment could be considered a form of self-care.

Let this be a lesson to anyone – self-care is anything and everything at this point.

And while I have plans and ideas about how to take care of myself on a physical, mental, and emotional level, I have to recognize that the biggest hurdle at the moment isn’t my bad eating habits, my bad sleeping habits, the smoking, the laziness, or anything else. Right now, it’s the stress levels at work and I need to get those down to management levels or get them gone before something drastic happens.

Related Posts

  1. Self-Care

Petition to Sekhmet – June 2014.

Yesterday, I woke up knowing that I needed to be on a much more even keel than I had been all week long. I don’t know if it was just me, but this last week kicked my ass. It seemed like at every possible juncture, I was battling some stupid asshole to get things rectified and things still weren’t rectified after the battle. I did surprise pop-ins. I escalated shit. I ended up sitting at my desk at lunch just about every day and instead of reading, as is usually the case, I propped my head in my hands and tried very hard not to cry. And as if the universe wasn’t having enough shit throwing the telecommunications world in which I work into complete and utter chaos, they felt the need to do the same with my personal life, too. My emotional stability had gone from “solid as a rock” to “impersonate a Geiger counter at Chernobyl on April 28, 1986.” While I have to continue to live my life, and take what comes at me in whatever possible way that I can, I also can’t let it impact the services that I am providing for others.

The ib is strong with this one.

The ib is strong with this one.

With that in mind, I put on my most recent purchase from On the Temple Steps, which is owned by Bezen (the owner of Per Sabu). I had bought an ib pendant from her a few weeks ago, feeling the need to add yet more heart imagery to my daily wardrobe. As anyone who has been following me for a while should know, I was tasked with finding a ring that perfectly symbolized our relationship before the end of 2013. I had chosen an anatomical heart for the task and I wear it every day. As though to emphasize my decision on the imagery, I was looking through Bezen’s most recent amulet haul and thought, I need an ib for Sekhmet, too. It actually came in on Friday – a single bright spot in an ongoing miasma of pure bullshit – and couldn’t wait to wear it around. So, after going through my morning ablutions yesterday, I put it around my neck, coupled with the winged Sekhmet pendant that I don’t wear as often as I probably should, and felt instantly better.

I don’t know if anyone reading this will understand what I’m talking about but when I put on those pendants, I felt a much more solid connection to the services I was going to provide that evening and also to Sekhmet, as a whole. It felt very much as though I had bathed the back of my neck in Florida water, which I do when I’m feeling frazzled and overwrought. Things have been dicey all over the place on an emotional level and I always tend to view Sekhmet as this stalwart in the midst of said upheavals. But this week, even knowing that I am her daughter and she will always be there for me in some form or another, I couldn’t find a connection. I worried about it, honestly. How can I provide rites if I’m feeling this? I need to be more on the level! I don’t know if the ib came in with the purpose of bringing me back towards that stalwart matron with whom I love dearly or if it was mere happenstance. Whatever the case may be, the second that golden amulet was around my neck, coupled with the silver amulet of Sekhmet, winged and ready to inflict chaos on those who deserve it, I felt much better about the whole thing.

And as I prepared for last night’s services, I realized that, well, over all I was beginning to feel better about the whole process. I realized that I didn’t feel nervous about the upcoming services, at all. It’s possible this was due to how chaotic and awful things were this week. I can’t possibly discount that because of how the universe threw every available curveball in my direction, I was too overwrought to even remotely feel nervous about things. But, I honestly have to wonder if that was it in its entirety. I’m beginning to think that after six months of officially doing this, coupled with the two months of unofficially doing this, that I may actually be starting to feel like I know what I’m doing. I can’t say that I have all the answers, but I do feel as though I have in hand what it is that I’m doing, what the aim is, and where I’m heading: the heka hut.

A while back, Devo and Helms had been throwing around the idea of a heka hut. I’m not sure when that conversational ball got started or even what brought it up, aside from something that Nekhbet had said to Helms at some point or another. In effect, the heka hut would be: “Where a group of hekau performs heka for people in need. We’d each do our own rites, possibly together, possibly separate.” While I will admit that I would prefer other hekau to get in on this, especially considering there is quite obviously a hole within the overall community for rites such as these, I also understand the lack of spoons that most of us currently are in the middle of. But as I thought about it all day yesterday, occasionally reaching up to the ib around my throat, I realized that I had accidentally started the heka hut without even consciously realizing that was what I was doing and am now just kind of waiting for others to jump on the bandwagon.

So, while I don’t know if that’s really what this whole thing is about – if Sekhmet thought the heka hut idea needed a push and is using me as a guinea pig – or if her wants and desires coincide with the original idea, I do know that what I’m doing is a valued service within the community. The list of petition requests I receive each month is a clear indicator that people need this. And I will admit that I’ve always felt like I needed to help people in some form so this actually all kind of fulfills that desire, too. As many spoons as this little heka hut can sometimes take, it’s a win-win over all.

Another thing that I have noticed with each month that passes is that I am finding it easier and easier to pull something out of my butt. I really don’t think anyone fully recognizes how much of my practice is me just saying, “Hey, I have a thing that I want to do; let’s see what I have around the house and make it a festival!” Or, insert religious observance. Sometimes, I have to go out and get items specific to that event, but it’s usually in cahoots with chores that I am already in the process of crossing off of my ever-growing to-do list. So, it’s not really as if I do anything overt or special for any of those observances. I am just doing what I would normally do or spending money on the food that I would normally purchase. And while the first few months of these services show a larger portion of meals and offerings to sweeten the deal, so to speak, I’ve come to realize that I don’t need to be so overt with these things. Just as I don’t need to be so overt with the other festivals, feast days, and processions that are marked on my calendar.

With each month, I know what I need to get things done and I know what I am going to do.

I don’t know if that makes me an expert or just more capable, but whatever the case may be, each month seems to find an easing of tensions that were explosive back in January.

For offerings, I chose roses. I really like flowers, okay? But I found that the roses were on SUPER SALE at my local grocery store. I got 15 stems for under ten dollars. And honestly, I don’t know why they were on massive sale since the roses were still in good condition. There was hardly any rot in any of the petals, which I removed as I was cutting them down to fit my vase, and hardly any of them had even started to bloom. I was also able to snag another bag of rose petals, which were also on sale. I went through the petals last night and saw that they were all in good condition, as well. What was even better was that the two key items I wanted to provide as food offerings – oranges and grapes – were still on sale, too. I was able to walk out of the grocery store with spending a lot less than I had budgeted for this month’s services.

I don’t know if the universe was trying to make it up to me after a hellacious week with all of these sales or not, but it certainly pleased me.

I didn’t have as many petitions as I normally do this month. I think that shows that these things come in waves. I don’t know, since I’ve only been doing this for six to eight months now, if people are more in need of reaching out to the gods in the beginning and ending the year, when things are constantly changing (and not necessarily in good ways), or if people are just so inured to my call that it’s that time again. In either case, I didn’t spend hours writing out petitions this month, which was nice. I was actually able to write them all down in less than an hour. I did see a few familiar faces and I also saw some new requests. And I added actually a bunch of people from the Kemetic community without letting them know. Since I know them all so well, I tend to know what’s going on in their lives at a given moment and know when I feel the need to step in and do something. Even though most of our relationships are long distance and through the Internet only, so I can’t really stop by with pints of ice cream to eat away the feelings, I can at least reach out to a deity who knows how to fuck bad shit up.

I even put in a petition request for myself, which I legitimately try not to do. It’s not that I don’t think she won’t listen to my request any more than anyone else’s, but also that I know the request I was putting in was probably kind of dumb. I haven’t done any work on my end to further the goal I was requesting her assistance with, so why should she listen to me? I also don’t like to put in my own requests because then I feel like a selfish jackass. But things were made quite clear to me the last few weeks regarding some things and I realized I needed to do something. Hopefully, the way that I formed the heka for myself won’t seem as though I’m asking her to pull a miracle pass in the last 15 seconds of the game, but just give me the added boost or the push that I need to get off my ass.

Oranges to symbolize her Eye of Re aspect; grapes to symbolize my servile relationship; and flowers everywhere to symbolize the beauty in maintaining ma'at.

Oranges to symbolize her Eye of Re aspect; grapes to symbolize my servile relationship; and flowers everywhere to symbolize the beauty in maintaining ma’at.

After cleaning off her altar space and setting up the offerings in front of her, I reached out and touched the prayer beads that are always on my altar. No matter what changes I may make, there are key elements in my relationship to Sekhmet that are always there: the prayer beads are one of those. I reached out to those beads and realized that I wanted to make them more part of the rite than I usually do. I normally have them on my altar, in some form or another, but I wanted to be a little more symbolic here. I placed them on top of the bowl of petitions, as a kind of sign post for her to take a peek at what people were asking for. Since I touch them frequently and leave them as an ongoing offering to her, I felt like it was the right step to bring her into this world to look at what people were asking. I also placed the feather of ma’at amulet on top of them (also from Bezen’s shop).

With everything completed, I relaxed for a bit, hoping that the next week is more about ma’at and less about isfet.

Kemetic Round Table: Offerings.

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!

I tend to associate the act of giving things to the gods as the “next step” on anyone’s religious path. It’s one thing to say that you are a devotee of X deity or a specific pantheon, but it’s still a realm of theory. It’s easy to debate that theory, both with yourself and with others until you’re blue in the face, without having anything concrete to back it up. You’ve read all the books; you’re hip to the lingo; you follow all the “proper blogs” everyone has recommended; you’re down with it. But in my experience, it was only once I began to actively do in the name of the gods I was working with that I began to feel as though I were an established practitioner. Everything, to me, prior to that was just something that I could wipe off easily from a chalk board. When I went to the next level by actively providing things to my gods, I realized that I had carved a message into the slate and going back would be a hell of a lot harder then.

When it comes to providing offerings, I think what to offer is probably the most popular question asked.

I honestly think the more important question is less about what and more about who, if anyone. The thing is that most people, when it comes to offerings, they’re ready to explore the next step, but it usually means that they have a specific deity in mind, usually termed as the “patron deity.” While I don’t necessarily discourage the practice of feeling the need to have a patron deity, I don’t necessarily encourage it either.

By focusing all of their newbie excitement and willingness into a single deity, perhaps one who may not even be interested, they are willingly excluding themselves from other deities who may be interested. We’ve all heard about deity collectors – those “weird” people who “collect” deities on the regular, such as myself – but I think what people are neglecting to take into account is that those who “collect” deities as often as I do is why the hell some of these deities are approaching established devotees when there are whole avenues of newbie blood available.

I think, too, that by giving an all-encompassing offering to all deities within a pantheon, the person in question will be better able to establish themselves as someone serious about this polytheistic life. I have always maintained that it was the act of giving an offering on a daily basis that established me on this path – it was the ability to do that daily rite, day in and day out, that gave me the ability to feel like I was actually living my religion, which was important to me. By moving forward with not having a specific deity in mind, they’re leaving themselves breathing room before the fun begins and a relationship begins to become fully formed.

Pictured: two priestesses provide food and wine offerings. Temple of Ramesses, Abydos.

Pictured: two priestesses provide food and wine offerings. Temple of Ramesses, Abydos.

As to what is to be provided to the gods, most often people get stuck here. Personally, I always recommend the more tried and true offering methods as shown in ancient Egypt to start off with. According to every offering related picture ever created in ancient Egypt, things like bread, flowers, figs, wild game, incense, cool water, water fowl, meat hanks, grains like wheat and barley, onions, lettuce, and wine were all used as providing offerings to the gods. Any of these items can be provided to the gods without worrying too much based on legitimacy. Since this comes from historically attested sources, you can’t really go wrong with using any of those.

(Obviously, I’m not going to recommend that you place a pair of live ducks or go and hunt down a deer to give as an offering to the gods. Unless that’s how you roll, just don’t do that.)

Another form of measure is to decide how modern the food product is. I can show that you won’t find a bag of Doritos or a can of Arizona on any of those offering images depicted in ancient Egypt. If possible, it’s always a good idea to stick to as historically accurate an offering as one can get when first starting out. Offering junk food, like chips or overly processed foods is okay, but it’s always best that the beginner go with as natural an offering as possible. There’s no need to have to defend oneself against the “you’re doing it wrong” brigade and again, you know that you aren’t entering the realm of UPG, so therefore, won’t have to defend yourself to anyone who feels like saying anything.

As time goes on, however, and a level of comfort is established in the act of providing offerings, then I highly recommend branching out of the established patterns the ancient Egyptians have set for us. We live in a modern world and I am a very vocal person when it comes to providing a more modernized practice for the gods. This will include items like chocolate, soda, Doritos, and ice cream. While I don’t think it’s a good idea to give these things every day, I think it can be an added bonus or a sort of treat to provide on “big occasions,” such as festivals and feast days or to celebrate something big that you accomplished [for or with your gods].

Fruit offerings provided to Sekhmet during one of my services in her name. Chocolate is hiding on the outskirts of the image.

Fruit offerings provided to Sekhmet during one of my services in her name. Chocolate is hiding on the outskirts of the image.

Some more modern offerings that I can and do give to my gods include chocolate. I will also give shots of vodka and diet Coke to my gods. I’m not sure if the ancient Egyptians had cheese (and I’m too lazy to give it up), so I’ll give that in lieu of milk. All of these things are things that I ingest regularly (to a degree) and so, in my eyes, by giving them as an offering to my gods, I am actively sacrificing something to provide it. Even though I will revert it later, it’s still hard to just plunk it down in front of them and not immediately gobble up that chocolate square or drink down that perfectly chilled glass of diet Coke.

When it comes to offerings, obviously, the most commonly cited things are food. But in ancient Egypt, sweetly scented oils and incense were often provided to the gods. Nice smelling things were very important to the ancient Egyptians and so, these things were provided to the gods. Based on what I can find historically speaking, some of the more common incense blends were kapet (which is most often known today as “kyphi”), frankincense, and myrrh. Scented oils included scents perfumed with lilies and roots of iris.

(When searching for a good incense blend, I will often look for something that is organic. The ancient Egyptians abhorred bodily waste and most often, modern incense is made with urea. While I don’t hold too much with ritual purity, which can vary from practitioner to practitioner anyway, I do attempt to find incense blends without urea within them.)

Offerings can include non-historically attested items, as well. Usually, when it comes to giving things that aren’t historically accurate, it depends highly on the deity the item is being offered to. I have a knife blade on my altar to Sekhmet since she is a deity of warfare and bloodshed. The knife type isn’t something found in ancient Egyptian annals, but the concept behind the blade is. I have offered pink quartz to Hetheru, which is not attested to in my research on her, but it’s a pretty item and she is definitely a deity of “the finer things in life.” I have a rock with the word “magic” etched in it that I gave to Aset when she and I began working on strengthening my heka together.

None of these are things that, on the face of it, would have been given to the gods in the temples. It’s possible these smaller items would have been given in family shrines in the home, if these types of items existed back then. However, these are all items that make sense to me and are specifically entrenched in my UPG. As time goes by, a newbie will begin to create their own UPG that perfectly encapsulates the relationship(s) they are building with their deity(ies).

The final form of offering is to do things for the gods. Since most ancient religions are orthopraxic, I think it makes a perfect kind of sense to get up and go in the name of the gods. Sometimes, actions that I choose to provide to the gods are specific to that deity – I am cleaning for Hetheru as a household deity; I am singing and laughing with my son in the kitchen to Bes as a fun-loving and child-protecting deity; I am execrating my enemies for Sekhmet as a justice deity – but sometimes, they are all-encompassing actions to all the gods on my steady, but sure progress to live in ma’at.

Spongebob, telling it like it is.

Spongebob, telling it like it is.

I think that most people will get a little more nervous when they decide to offer actions to their gods, mostly because they’re not sure about how to go about it. Do you announce what you’re doing? Or do you just do it? Won’t it be weird if you just say that you’re going to do something for the gods? But won’t they already know what you’re doing? Personally, I used to announce that I am doing X for a specific deity just to ensure that they were listening. As time went by, however, I found that it mattered less and less if they were listening because I was going to do the thing anyway. While I reflected later that I had done that thing for the deity in question or possibly mulled over whether or not they liked that thing, it didn’t matter at the time of action if the deity was aware of that. All that mattered was that I was doing it and upholding ma’at in my own little way.

And above all else, upholding and maintaining ma’at, no matter how we define it ourselves, is probably the greatest action that can be given to the gods. It is to them that ma’at is upheld with their actions and it is our ability to assist them with our own actions that it continues. Even if cleaning the bathroom for the gods doesn’t seem like you’re upholding ma’at or even if it doesn’t seem like a suitable offering to the gods, it actually is. It’s something you are doing. It is maintaining your household. It is a part of your life, for good or ill. No matter how big or how small the task may be, if you decide it’s an action offering, then it’s an action offering and so be it.

When it comes to offering foods to the gods, we always talk about reverting the offerings. In ancient Egypt, the priests would disseminate the food items out to the people of the temple and eat them down. This is most often what Kemetics are discussing when we mention “reversion of offerings.” It’s one thing to sacrifice a food item to the gods and quite another to just throw it away afterwards. Sometimes, it may be a part of the offering to feed the birds with bread offered to the gods, but especially for those of us on a very strict budget, we can’t just throw food out because it was the gods’ food first.

However, sometimes, even the idea of offering food on a regular basis can be kind of dicey because of strict budgets. Another work around would be to offer meals that you are eating to the gods. This way, you don’t have to feel like you need to leave something out for “long enough” so that the gods take their fill before you whisk it away and devour it yourself. Offering what’s already going into your stomach also provides you with the ability to hide what you’re doing if you are living in an environment where you have to practice your religion on the down low.

Getting right down to it, the things to provide to the gods will vary from practitioner to practitioner. Whether or not the offerings are overt or quietly; whether or not they are done each day or once a week; whether or not they are provided with play food (like dollhouse food items) or with real food… it all depends on what works best for the person in question. And of course, the only way to find out how it will work out for each one of you is to give it all a try.

Related Posts

  1. Offerings 101
  2. Offerings 201
  3. Offerings 301
  4. On Offerings