You’re Toxic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

power plant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Empathize.

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

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

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

  • Diversity.

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

  • Inclusion.

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

Thursday - 042210 - Day 61

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

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

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

The toxic assholes won.

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

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

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

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

Otherwise, there is literally no point in trying.

Related Content

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

Be Kind; Please Rewind.

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

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

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

Fear

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

  • Failure

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

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

  • Fear

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

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

  • Fire

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

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

  • Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

kindness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Enough.

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

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

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

Create

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me tell you a story.

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

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

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

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

November-Blues 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Write the post.

Write the ritual.

Write the rubric.

Write the hymn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loss of Faith: Polytheism Edition.

As a birthday present to myself, and after a recommendation from TTR, I picked up The Grief Recovery Handbook and immediately began reading through. Grief, as discussed in this book, is defined by the opening statement in the first chapter: “Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss of any kind.” The authors make no specific distinction about what caused the loss, pointing out the most common (death, divorce, financial change, etc), but they make the point that any major change can cause a loss of some type.

The overall point in the first part of the book is to illustrate that we have all been “socialized to believe that those feelings are abnormal and unnatural.” This should not be the case for anyone as it means that we have not been given the tools necessary to contend with the very real emotional reaction humans have when it comes to loss.

The authors go on to stress that it is no one’s fault that they were never given the necessary resources to recover from their grief. Society as a whole is responsible and the only way to overcome this is to educate ourselves and therefore, eventually, be able to educate others, on how to recover from this.

During my reading, I found a specific section on faith that I found particularly interesting:

In 1969 John’s younger brother died. John remembers being told, “You shouldn’t be angry with God.”

John knew he shouldn’t be angry with God, but he was anyway. No one knew to tell him that anger at God is a typical response to an untimely death. We’ve relied on intellect for years, so we search for understandable reasons for events. When we can’t find a reason, we assign blame to God.

As someone who experienced the loss of their father at a young age, this particular passage made a good deal of sense to me. At the time of his death, I was too young to understand the full cause that resulted in my father’s death. I now know things I couldn’t understand or be told at 7 years of age, so it no longer seems like a reasonless death. But as a child facing the seeming untimely death of their parent, I assigned blame to God.

But placing blame on God for an event that seemed to have no reason is frowned upon. We’re told contradictory things like “God has a plan” and “Don’t be angry with God” and are never really allowed to voice that anger because it is seen as taboo or wrong. To voice our displeasure at God can be downright threatening for some people to hear and in general, such sentiments are shushed into oblivion.

The authors continued this passage with the following:

This anger will pass if we’re allowed to express the feeling. We have to be allowed to tell someone that we’re angry with God and not be judged for it, or told that we’re bad because of it. If not, this anger may persist forever and block spiritual growth. We’ve known people who never returned to their religion because they weren’t allowed to express their true feelings. If this happens, the groover is cut off from one of the most powerful sources of support he or she might have.

To reiterate the point, if we bottle these feelings up because we are either taught to keep them quiet or talked over when we voice them, we may never experience spiritual growth again.

Reciprocity

While the above quotes did spark a series of thoughts relating to myself and my father’s death, it was not in fact his death that I first began exploring. I had already know about my anger with God at age seven and have managed to, for the most part, deal with it. My thoughts actually began rolling to when pagans lose their faith and my own experience with it.

For those who have only recently started reading this blog, I used to be an obnoxious “have faith” kind of person. By that, I mean that I loved my gods and my religion. I was here for it everyday and I worked hard to both maintain my faith and towards the common goals my gods had given me. I often thought of my faith as a shining gold blanket, thick and luxurious, and it made me feel comforted and happy. I suspect the reason I was this person is because my mother often told me that she cared not for what religion I followed, as long as I had faith. So, perhaps to overcompensate for the years where I had none, I was full of it.

But in 2016, I began to have a crisis of faith.

A crisis of faith is typically defined as when you seriously question whether what you believe/how you see/what you’re committed to is actually true. If you read editorials from pastors, reverends, and priests, many of them will say that a crisis of faith is a good thing. But while you are on the midst of one, and if your religion doesn’t have spiritual leaders to discuss these issues with, it certainly doesn’t feel like a good thing.

My issue was reciprocity. The word is commonly defined as “mutual exchange” and was a part of the ancient Egyptian religion. It was seemingly practiced by both the upper echelons of ancient Egyptian society and the laity. I felt like the gods were not holding up their end of the bargain.

I had made extensive strides in the areas I had been asked to, but the return I was expecting failed to materialize. It felt very much like the gods had welched on their part of the contract between us and no matter how many times I pointed out that their lack of fulfillment was both upsetting to me and concerning me on their behalf, I typically got the message equivalent of smashing the keys of a keyboard in answer.

When I spoke about my anger at being, seemingly, forsaken, I was told by many that I shouldn’t be angry. I shouldn’t rage and rant at the gods. I should effectively suck it up and keep on going about the work I was already doing because “the gods have a plan”.

Eventually, I brought it up less and less because the voices trying to drown out dissatisfaction and discontent grew steadily louder. Those who once commented on the things I said about being angry disappeared for fear of an eventual dog pile from those who seemed to be threatened by the idea that people could be angry with their gods. The discussions were eventually shushed into oblivion.

Sound familiar?

These statements and arguments kept cropping up whenever anyone mentioned feeling like I did on the matter and compounded an already stressful situation for me. I’ve come to the conclusion that many who say things similar to what the authors mentioned in the Handbook have taken the same point-of-view of many Christians: the deities are at a higher level than humans and we should simply be content with an occasional glance.

I suspect that people who shout down other polytheists with this negative rhetoric are still very much entrenched by the religious backgrounds they come from. While that is not necessarily their fault if they’ve not been given the means to recover from it, it makes it difficult for people who do not suffer from the same backgrounds or who have been successful in recovering from those previously held beliefs.

I also strongly believe that these same people are scared. They’re terrified of someone upsetting their status quo. And I understand that rocking the boat on the open ocean can be terrifying but sometimes you have to in order to grow.

Whatever the psychological or emotional reason behind this need to shout over the disaffected and grieving, they need to remember that they are speaking to real, living people going through some of their own shit. And they need to keep in mind that, more than likely, what they’re talking over or trying to shut down may in fact negate some of the basic tenets of their polytheistic religion. (Or in the words of Jake the Dog: they need to “go sit in the corner and think about your life.”)

Reciprocity in Christianity culminates in the Golden Rule more often than not. Reciprocity in the ancient Egyptian religion, at least, extends to include the gods and that means that I have a perfectly reasonable expectation to assume I will eventually be given what I have asked for especially after years of faithful service.

The idea that they could not or wouldn’t abide by what I expected threw me into a tailspin. This tailspin was further exacerbated by people who, perhaps thinking they were “helping,” voiced the same types of comments the Handbook authors specifically refer to as detrimental especially when someone is experiencing a loss.

And make no mistake: I was grieving for my loss of faith. I had blindly and lovingly followed for years and now, what I knew to be true about my gods and our relationships was thrown on its head. I could no longer view them with love or faith; I could only see them as capricious beings who were using me or figments of my imagination.

The situation never cleared up for me, not really. I just stopped talking about it, no longer willing to defend myself while I tried to work on my grief at the loss of my faith virtually alone.

2016 was a hard year.

abandoned churches

So how do you recover from grief when, seemingly, everyone wants to shut your natural reaction about said grief down? How do you come out the other side, feeling better about it all? I must have done something since I’m back at the religion table again, doing my due diligence and trying to forge ahead as always.

I can say that I’m not sure. In the last three years, I have truthfully spoken to one (1) person about this in an unedited fashion. TTR seemed to be the only one who understood what I was saying, but at the time, they didn’t have all the tools necessary to be much more than the vent hole I needed when I was angry or upset about it. And besides, they too had had their own similar experiences regarding reciprocity and understood things from a similar perspective to my own.

I can truthfully say that I am still grieving. I can often look back at those years where I felt secured in my golden, fluffy blanket of faith and grieve for it all over again. This isn’t always the case, not by a long shot, because sometimes I look back and I am so angry that I once so blindly believed as I did back then.

I was able to at least come to terms with it, which isn’t the same thing as recovering. I was able to come to a point where I still viewed the gods as capricious beings that played games with people like me, but I stopped worrying that I was making it all up, that the omens and signs were coincidental and that I was imagining things.

I’m hoping that my reading of this book may better help me. Thus far it’s taught me what not to say when someone experiences a loss of any kind. The next section appears to be given the steps to come through one’s grief, so perhaps I will eventually be able to say that I have recovered.

Things will, of course, never go back the way they once were. I knew that two years ago when I started to say that I missed having a religion and went back to the gods I knew already. You can’t fill the hole of one’s loss and assume it will be as good as new. The myriad of patch jobs a city does on its potholes is all the physical reminder of this that anyone needs. But like a fresh patch job done well, the hole can at least become functional again for a time before a new patch is needed.

I am hoping the book will give me more than a patch job; maybe stitches to knot the edges of the hole together. I suppose I’ll find out.

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.

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