Kemetic Round Table: Patron Deities.

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 second you step a toe into the pagan hemisphere of the Internet, you start seeing questions about “patron deities.” Invariably, these questions relate to finding one. From a polytheistic perspective, these questions don’t lessen any when you decide to go that route. And from a recon-slant perspective, such as my own, the questions keep on coming. I think this is one of the most popular questions that neophytes ask us older and wiser practitioners. The problem is that is it really necessary from a polytheistic perspective, more specifically, my recon-slanted Kemetic practice? And honestly, even though I technically have one, I can say that I don’t think it’s even remotely necessary.

Wait, what?

I know; I’m probably not even remotely making a lick of sense. Or, if you completely understand what I’m saying, then this is probably coming off as a bit of a double standard. I have a patron, but I don’t think they’re necessary? That seems like an awful strange mix there, to me, and I’m sure it looks pretty strange from an outsider’s perspective. But in all honesty, aside from giving me a fierce joy in the knowledge that Sekhmet is around whenever I need her, I really don’t go for her outside of her specific aspects of healing or destruction. I could do that without her being my patron deity just as easily as I can with her being my matron*. With her being my patron, I’m possibly given a little more credibility and a more sure-fire ear than I would have without her being in my life. However, just because I have a direct line, so to speak, that doesn’t exactly guarantee that what I am requesting aid with is going to happen.

And I think that’s something we assume will happen with patron deities.

We start building a relationship with a specific deity and we think, I’m wanted; I’m desired. And we forget a lot of the time that the relationship isn’t for us. This building of a foundation with a particular deity is about them. They require us just as much as we require them. While it’s great and thrilling to finally have that moment where you realize that a deity desires you in some form or another, you also have to be practical about it. It’s not just like butterflies in the stomach when your crush looks back at you; this is a deity, a being who is more than we are, and they are probably getting the “warm and fuzzies” for you as a type of food source, literally and metaphorically. So, while the feelings are great and it makes you feel like you suddenly belong somewhere, you also have to look at it from a realistic angle, as well.

This relationship is cyclical.

However, considering my last post, it’s really no wonder that I don’t really hold with the age-old stereotype of requiring a p/matron any longer. Polytheists need to branch out of their comfort zones and by acquiring a specific p/matron we are less likely to do so, me thinks. Now, I’m not talking about those of you who are still new and uncertain. I think it’s a wise decision to limit yourself to a few deities at a time – you have to get to know what a relationship with any deity is like, for starters – and I don’t think you need to push your limits. However, once we acquire that comfort level where we can anticipate wants, desires, feedings, etc. then it’s time to start thinking about outside of the boxes we shove ourselves into.

Another reason why I think refraining from this p/matron search is because a lot of people take for granted that they can just utilize UPG entirely in their practice. I will admit, I am a heavy user of UPG in my relationship with Sekhmet. However, with the other gods that I do honor on a regular basis, I am entirely restricted to forming my relationships on a historical basis. The reason being is that, while UPG is fine and dandy, learning about the deities we are working with is essential to (A) maintaining that practice and (B) to formulating a fulfilling religious background. And while you can profess a relationship with Sutekh, if you don’t know his mythology very well, then you’re probably going to be left very frustrated with the things that Sutekh requires of you. In like vein, assimilate what I just said to all Kemetic deities you would be willing to work with. If you don’t know a damn thing about Hetheru, then when she asks you to have wild, insane sex on her behalf, are you going to know why? No, you aren’t.

And these aspects are intensely related to numerous relationships with these deities. They are aspects that are easily found in the sources we have to hand. And without having accessed those sources, you could very well be under the impression that you are not just insane or on crack, but a heavy dose of the in between. And while we all have moments where we think we are entirely insane and making shit up in our heads, if you just did a bit of background research, you’d know that you were not, in fact, insane.

And finally, one of the last reasons why I think prohibiting this p/matron thing is a necessity is because of all the conversations I see cropping up where kids go, “You can’t tell a deity ‘no.'” This is such a patented falsehood that I don’t even really know where to begin. Anyone can say “no” to whomever or whatever they so desire. You can tell a deity who is knocking that you are not ready; you can tell them that you are not willing; and you can tell them to “fuck off right now because never, ever in a thousand years.” However you want to phrase it to the deity in question is entirely up to the person in question, but just because you are searching for a p/matron doesn’t necessarily mean that you are suddenly unable to tell a deity “no” if you are uncomfortable with their pestering.

And I think a lot of people who do a serious search for a p/matron are so starved for the attention that they think those of us with p/matrons get that they honestly believe they cannot tell them no. Wrong.

I tell deities no ten times a day some days. I tell deities no once a day on other days. Whatever the reason, I’m still an individual with free will. And that means that I get to exercise that free will whenever I so desire. This means that I may tell them this in regards to an offering, to a particular rite, to entering my life, etc. It doesn’t really matter what the reason I’m telling them no. I may explain my reasoning; I may not. It doesn’t matter. Again, when we were created, we were given free will. And that means we can tell the gods to talk to the hand if we want to.

As persistent as a deity is, you can always tell them no. And if they don’t listen, then I recommend punching them in the face.

But let’s get serious here for a minute. I fully advocate saying no. The reason isn’t just free will, not enough spoons, etc. The reason I do advocate this is because of the amount of responsibility that ultimately goes into the relationships we build with netjer. Referencing back to what I stated above, as a food source of this deity… that is a large responsibility right there. And just as you are completely responsible for your children’s needs and desires, so too will you be 100% responsible for the deity’s needs and desires. You can’t just say, oh, they have other worshipers who feed them if you no longer want that responsibility. You don’t do that with your kids or your pets, so why would you do that to a god?

So, while being unable or unwilling is always something to keep in mind, really, you have to ask if you can maintain this relationship indefinitely with all the pain, anger, and hatred that may come along with it.

* Though I do still ascribe to the very antiquated depiction of Sekhmet as my patron, our relationship is vastly different from what it was when I first began this path all those years ago. I mostly utilize this phrasing so as not to confuse my readers. I also use this because then I won’t have to explain my UPG here, as it is very P.

Rolling Out the Red Carpet (PBP).

This is actually in response to this Tumblr post that has been going around my friends’ Tumblogs. I’m going to do this in the same way that I’ve done my infamous [in my own head] 101 posts.

When will I be called by an OTHER™?
This is actually one of those really common questions in the pagan sphere. A lot of newer practitioners begin to read others’ blog posts or comments on pagan-oriented forums in regards to working relationships with OTHERS™. They see all of these pagan practitioners discussing their “god-bothered” status. (I use this term to denote that gods are in my life, although I believe it was A Changing Altar via their Tumblr that mentioned they didn’t quite like that word. I have to agree that it isn’t the most accurate terminology since it makes one think that those of us who do have close relationships with the gods aren’t thrilled with it and that’s not usually the case. Another reason why this terminology is so inaccurate is because it does not take into account the lwa, the orisha, or any of the other beings out there that are beyond our ken.) And they begin to think that they’re not special enough or able enough or pagan enough or what have you because they haven’t been called the way some others have. This isn’t the case. Every pagan is different; every practice is different even if you are following along with a temple or a grove or a coven. Since every human being is different, no matter how similar the practices and beliefs may be, then you have to go into this whole “god-bothered” thing thinking that each relationship, worship, etc will be different as well.

The thing is that there is no set time frame on when an OTHER™ decides to make contact with someone. While some people have come into this life with an OTHER™ already prepping them or in their lives, in some form or another, that’s not exactly the norm. And then we also have other pagans who have never once had a close relationship with any of the OTHERS™ and not for lack of trying. Whatever the OTHERS™ decide in these cases is up to them. You can’t force something. You can’t assume that because it’s happened to X, Y, and Z pagan then it will happen to you. I’m going to point back to what I said above about everyone’s practice being different in some form or another. And you know, just because a “deep, meaningful relationship” doesn’t happen with an OTHER™ that doesn’t mean that you’re not pagan enough or good enough or any of that jazz. THAT’S BULLSHIT RIGHT THERE AND STOP THINKING THAT WAY. That just means that you’re more likely to explore outside influences while those of us in the “god-bothered category” are less likely to jump outside of the box. (I’m not saying that this is how it is all the time, but I do tend to see a general idea that most people who have a particular patron from a specific pantheon don’t tend to explore outside of that pantheon or culture. Again, this isn’t how it is all of the time.)

We should also consider that there are different levels of relationship, as well, so that may have something to do with it as well. We have god-spouses and god-slaves, we have children of the gods and we have patron deities and and and. So, in some cases, when some of the younger pagans are discussing the whole desire to being called by an OTHER™, we should also take it with a grain of salt. The level of commitment can be very intense – I know of a few god-slaves and a few god-spouses. Their relationship is truly something I cannot comment on (not just because I do not fall into these categories, but it’s nobody’s business what kind and how intense). But some of these other relationships can be fleeting, can be for a specific time frame, etc. For example, when I first began working with Hekate, it was only supposed to be a one month and one day work together. It was just supposed to be fleeting, whereas my relationship with Sekhmet transcends time and space. (No more on that. That’s for the S entries.) So, in that respect, we can sit there and think that maybe it’s not that it won’t happen but that the newbie in question just isn’t ready yet.

How do I know if I’m being called by an OTHER™?
This is something that is difficult. The experience is very different for each individual pagan, but this is also one of the most common questions in regards to relationships with OTHERS™ that I’ve seen. How will I know? What should I look for? The thing is that what I experienced before I realized what was going on isn’t what Joe Blow or Jane Doe will have experienced when it comes to their relationships with their OTHERS™. This is born out in the numerous comments to the post that started this entry. I’ve seen people comment that it was a bit like falling love and others like it was a dawning moment one day.

In my life, when I knew I was being called by the main movers-and-shakers, it was pretty much all a lot of little coincidental moments that added up to one of those dawning epiphanies I have tend to get. It wasn’t like I was falling in love. It wasn’t like I had a particular OTHER™ on the brain. It wasn’t like any of the other ways that pagans have mentioned. And while I could sit around and mull and moan about how it’s “not like everybody else” we have to keep coming back to the point I’ve made in this entry and in others: each practice is different from one another. So, how it works for me may not be how it works for you or you or that person down in the back over there.

If you start thinking that you may be called, then maybe you are. The only way to find out is by asking.

How do I ask an OTHER™ if they are calling me?
This is one of those tricky things that has more to do with the “god-phone” thing than this post, but I thought it merited a little section. The thing is that when it comes to communicating with OTHERS™, how do you do it? Do you just say, “I want this,” and hope that they hear it? Do you have to be in prayer? Do you have to do a ritual? How in the world does anyone ask an OTHER™ anything? They’re a being that is pretty much beyond anything we can think or imagine. (Whoops. My Kemetic half is coming out.) The thing is that we have to first trust in the fact that they are there and that they are listening.

As to how they will send the message, it’s entirely up to them. When it comes to communication, it’s as different between the OTHERS™ as it is for us. We use various languages to communicate with one another and different forums to see it done. So, too, do the OTHERS™. Primarily, my contact with my “god-phone” is limited to oracle and Tarot deck use that is specific to that OTHER™ in question. There are other pagans, however, who have dreams when an OTHER™ is looking to get communication going. You can meditate. You can do a ritual. You can use Tarot or oracle decks. You can pray and ask for them to give you a sign in X way or a dream or whatever you so desire. The “how” the communication comes about isn’t so much important as the fact that the communication ends up happening.

Why is an OTHER™ calling me?
This is one of those things that is entirely up to you to answer. I can sit there and look at the situation, but I won’t know for sure. That’s the problem. Each OTHER™ calls to a person for different reasons.

For example, Hekate never actually called me. I called to her and she accepted the companionship that I had proposed. In this working together, we’re mostly trying to help me to get to a place where I can, actually, start practicing magic again. We discovered that a lot of my past life and current life traumas were holding me back in various ways. She decided it was in my best interest to banish them. So, while this is an ongoing project, since we’ve been working together longer than the month and a day that we had initially agreed upon, that is the nature of her working in my life: guide. Whereas, if we look to Legba, his position in my life is to make contact with that liminal aspect that I deny. And if we look to Hetharu and Sekhmet, we have still other reasons for their being in my life.

When it comes to fostering a relationship with the OTHERS™, it is as varied as how they communicate and how our practices end up. Some relationships with OTHERS™ can be a life-long commitment, while others can only be to help you work through a specific aspect of yourself or your traumas (as in the case with Hekate). And still other types of relationships can be specific to a particular ritual, a time of the year, a festival you’re celebrating, or what have you. Just because an OTHER™ doesn’t come down and tap you on the shoulder to let you know that you suddenly belong to them doesn’t mean you can’t make relationships with the OTHERS™. It just means that you have more free range than some of the rest of us.

The Inner Most Chamber Is Only Open to the Man of Silence.

After my raging last post, I feel quite upset with myself for having gone that far. However, I did get a reaction from both deities because of it. They are both back. Hwt-Hrw is back to her whimsical “you know, whatever you want, dear” policies and Sekhmet is just around. She was kind of upset with me last night, which ended up in yet another argument between the two of us, but I’ll get into that in a minute.

I had gotten the new statue of Hwt-Hrw in a few days ago. However, I swore up and down that I would not take her out of her shipping box, much less her personal box, until I had put the floating shelves up. About a thousand purchases later, I was able to put three of the six shelves up. I put Hwt-Hrw in the middle and surrounded her with a large and a medium-sized shelf. The shelves, much to my chagrin, are not holding up well. The walls in my apartment are pretty much cheap and shitty, so they hang at a slight angle. I have to bracket the shelves, and soon, so that I can put what I want to surround her on the walls. In the mean time…

I decided that I should just get Sekhmet up and out of the way, just in case Rowan’s attention turned from Hwt-Hrw to Sekhmet. So, I put up one of the shelves I had originally bought for Hwt-Hrw and put her on it. This is where the fight ended up. She looked like this:

…and she was super pissed. She was angry that I was using the shelves I had bought with the intention to house Hwt-Hrw. She was angry that the shelf wasn’t flush against the wall like it should have been. She was pissed off to no end that the shelf wasn’t of a maple variety, as she has specified, and that I was even remotely trying this for a minute or two. So, I took her down and put her back on my bedside table atop the boxaltar. She’s happier, but still wants her own shrine.

I’m thinking I should go back to the double-doored wall cabinet from Wal-mart because there is no way that I can find a friggin’ maple colored floating wall shelf set. Trust me: I’ve looked all over the place. Everyone sells them in cherry, ebony, mocha, and oak colors. I love my deities, but I’m not going to sand down and re-stain shelves for them! So, I think I’m going to buy a white wall cabinet for her with a shelf of some sort beneath the doors so I can put all of my Kemetic Recon books there. She is, after all, my patron deity and she is, after all, the supreme deity of medicine, only learned in the House of Life. Unless Djehuty comes along, Sekhmet is going to hang on to my books.

Oh, and speaking of other gods… I thought it was a good idea to invite Sutekh into my life. I just opened up my lips and blabbed it out for the Internet to hear. I’m vaguely paranoid about this and wonder if my odd, Egyptian-related dreams have anything to do with him. Honestly? I don’t know since they’re so vague. I do know, however, that Sutekh likes to make himself apparent with odd dreams. If that’s the case, he should work on me remembering them in the AM.

And since my blow-up at my patrons… I’ve felt better and more light-hearted. Perhaps they appreciated my rage for what it was worth? I know Sekhmet did, but there’s no telling with Hwt-Hrw. I think she’s just happy that she has a statue again!

I forgot to mention… I have since closed down the spiritual blog I was keeping on Livejournal, which was private. I like WordPress a lot better than LJ right now, though I do not intend on fully ridding myself of my LJ. Since no one could read my spiritual blog, it seemed more of a hassle to keep it open. I plan on deleting it the first week of November.