The Fourth Month & The Fourth Hour.

I knew what I could expect from the month of April before it even arrived. My research into the fourth hour told me so and my own past hinted at it. I wasn’t wrong about just how chaotic I was going to find the fourth month, but it did manage to surprise me time and time again.

As I came out the other side of all of this, I had to stop and think about it seriously. I spent a lot of the month feeling very much like I was a chicken with my head cut off. I was constantly feeling as if I was running around with no real destination in mind; just little pit stops as I went round and round in circles.

When I finally had time to think about all of it, I had to ask myself if the chaos I had experienced was necessarily a bad thing. Often within the Kemetic community, the idea of chaos is seen almost as antithetical to ma’at with the word’s association with isfet. In the Western World, we are also led to believe that chaos goes against the norm and while it can definitely feel that way while you’re in the middle of it, it doesn’t necessarily equate to a bad thing.

Was everything that I went through really, well, a negative?

Confusion and disorder; lack of organization and lack of order can seem to be a negative but sometimes you need to feel pulled in a 100 directions to figure out what the right direction is. It’s only when you have that lack of organization and a constant feeling of vertigo because of it that you finally take the time to figure out where you need to actually go. Or sometimes, life really does just mean that you have to be pulled in so many different areas at once in order to move ahead to the next step on the journey ahead.

It’s not fun.

It’s nerve-wracking.

It can be frustrating and irritating.

But it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The Fourth Month

April started dark and somber. I was depressed and moody. I didn’t feel like things were working out well and as I mentioned in my last entry on this topic, I was beginning to despair. It’s easy to fall into despair and let it eat at you, but I have more than just myself at stake at the moment, so I kept going forward.

Work is always chaotic in April. It’s the first real month of spring so we get new clients, new employees, and new projects to contend with. This year was no different, but the promised “reprieve” from the boss has yet to manifest. I think I spent much of my first two weeks of the month in back-to-back meetings or training sessions, occasionally with calls regarding new requests. It was stressful.

It still is, actually. I don’t remember the last time I left the office on time. I keep getting overtime, which is useful I suppose, but I long to be able to leave with the rest of the staff. I can also admit that I’m a little bitter; I seem to be the only supervisor who consistently has to stay late. What am I doing wrong, I sometimes ask myself. I must be unable to manage by time properly if I’m always having to stay so much later than everyone else.

But when I start to think that I must be horrible or insufficient for the demands placed upon me, I look back at all of the emails I’ve sent. We track our time for our clients for billing purposes and I can look at our little time-viewing gadgets. I surpass everyone in the office when it comes to the time entered in for our clients; I hardly ever have internal time where I’m doing a specific thing related to the company. All of my work is client facing and while that’s pleasant to know, it’s certainly tiring.

As I mentioned in my Nephthys entry, early on in the month, I took the advice from a long-term friend of mine and approached her about something Very Important and a large source of my stress, my depression, and the chaos. I asked her to help us to pull one of our irons out of the fire, an iron that’s been sitting in the coals for… well… years now.

After twenty days, she came through and we pulled the iron out of the fire. The last two weeks of the month have been spent trying to get everything lined up so that we can move on to the next step in our lives. This is Very Good and Very Exciting, but it is also Very Stressful. I’m not even doing most of the footwork on this either as I’ve asked the SO to take on that mantle and he has. But I know how chaotic and stressful it is when my down-to-earth Taurus starts stressing about things and he certainly has been.

But when things start to get overwhelming for the two of us, we remind each other that this is where we want to be. We wanted to be here before now, but we’re finally at this stage in the game. So, now it’s time to move on and move forward. We’ll know for sure that everything is buttoned up by the end of May.

And of course, the chaos of April wouldn’t be complete without something coming completely out of left field: my last remaining grandparent past away at the end of the month. He was 97 years old and lived a very long life, so in an abstract way, I can say that this wasn’t unexpected.

But it was unexpected because he was alive at Christmas and he was happy at Christmas. And it was unexpected because my last surviving link to my grandparents, to a generation that lived through A Lot of Tough Shit has past on to the West. My seventy days of mourning has begun and I have a lot of feelings to parse through on all of this. Eventually, I’ll discuss it but for now, I’m wrapping myself around my sadness while I try to come to terms with the fact that he is gone.

The Fourth Hour

The fourth hour begins at the throat of the goddess Nut, the point where true digestion begins. I always found it very interesting that the middle hours of the afterlife that tend to be the most stressful correlate with the body parts that are used for digestion. I get focused on the idea of peristalsis and the idea that one’s rebirth is no different than what we humans do every time we eat a meal.

To move the soul forward, one must be devoured whole. There’s chewing and mashing once the soul has been taken into the mouth, but there is also swallowing. And amid all of these parts, the soul is in a constant state of chaos. It is frustrating and emotional; it is painful and distressing.

No matter how green the fertile land looks and how pleasant it may all seem, there are enemies all around, looming in the darkness that surrounds. It’s a test, really. A test and a testament to whether or not you come out the other side. It’s partially all yourself and partially the forward progression as the soul is digested by Nut.

And at the basis of it all, the very real plea that you will be able to come out of it all reborn:

O you hawk rising from Nun, Lord of the Great Flood, make me flourish as you make yourself flourish.

I have felt the threat of tears just as the deceased are wont to do in this hour. An emotional response to an overwhelming situation, but a true response all the same. One can only hope that, once this has all been completed, one will flourish once more.

Conclusion

I thought that this hour would be difficult and I was right, but I didn’t really consider where the difficulties would lie. The chaos of the month was only exacerbated by the chaos of the hour. The lesson of taking a few steps forward and stopping to internalize the lesson from hour two is still very present but nigh on impossible to do with so much going on at once.

Roberts states that the turbulence of the last few hours is preparation for the upcoming hours where regeneration and life are to truly begin. The chaos of the preceding hours is a test to ensure that the deceased is truly ready for what comes ahead.

I don’t feel ready necessarily but I’m moving ever forward, just like the year has been doing. The first four months of 2019 feel very much like a steady earthquake meant to test and prod and pull apart what’s already been established so that new forms can be made and old forms that work well can be reawakened.

The next few months should prove interesting.
Further Reading

Nephthys.

In February, I was beginning to despair that things weren’t going to work out the way that I wanted them to. I don’t know if anyone realizes this, but I tend to come down on the side of “never going to work out” because hope is a thing that I don’t really know how to have. It always works out best if I assume the worst because I’ll never truly be disappointed. But this year isn’t about assuming the worst; it’s about moving forward and being reborn. Unfortunately or otherwise, a part of that means that hope is a thing that has to happen.

During a conversation with one of my long-time friends where we were discussing what was going on with me, they mentioned that they had done a reading for me about the whole thing. As part of that reading, the cards seemed to indicate that I should reach out to Nephthys. I kind of laughed and said, “Are you sure?” They confirmed twice and said that I should probably look into it.

After doing the usual research (going to Butler’s entry on Nephthys), I found it interesting that Nephthys’s name is translated into “Mistress of the House.” According to Wikipedia, this could be a misnomer; a citation-less note on that page seems to indicate that her name could mean “Mistress of the [Temple] Enclosure.” Based on further reading I’ve done on her since, I have a tendency to think that it’s all the same; in either case, she’s still a mistress of some closed off space.

As I was going through various pages, trying to catch a glimmer of who this unknown-to-me goddess was, I kept coming back to the translation of her name and the fact that her name, when written in hieroglyphs, looks very much like the traditional house hieroglyph with a bowl plunked down on top. I was apparently not the only one to see this since TTR agreed that they, too, saw the same house image with a bowl placed on the roof.

I couldn’t get this bowl thought out of my head.

Whenever I would sit down to look deeper into this mystery goddess, I couldn’t help but keep coming back to the bowl on top of the house image. I kept picturing a house with a bowl to catch rain water. Sometimes I would picture the bowl filled with the same kind of crap you could expect to see in a gutter around a house, but mostly, I kept coming back to the idea of the bowl catching rainwater, or maybe even snow in the winter.

I assured myself that the bowl was immaterial probably; the important part was that she could help me out. But even with my own false assurances loudly ringing hollow in my own ears, I kept coming back to the hieroglyph of her name, of the square that I’ve seen a hundred times in similar position when I’m looking into Hathor for one reason or another: her name uses that same little box since her name translates to “House of Horus”.

The idea that Nephthys has a relationship to the home makes sense to me, although after doing further research on her, the translation of her name meaning temple enclosure could also fit. But before all of that deeper dig into the source material, the idea that Nephthys was related to the house wouldn’t leave me. And I kept asking myself: Well, why can’t she be a household deity?

We know little about the religion of the laity, a point I’ve made many times over. The bits that we do know seem to indicate that they had idols of gods like Hathor, Djehuty, Bes, and others in enclosures in their home. It’s not quite so different in a very broad way from what most pagans and polytheists are doing now except that we aren’t sure how those household deities were worshiped.

Now, I did look around to see if there was any evidence that a Nephthys idol could have been found in any of the homes that have been excavated and I came up with nothing. In fact, the more I looked into it, the more I began to feel like this was probably not something that was done in antiquity, but I wasn’t getting any negative push back from any of my household gods about it. To be blunt, the more I thought about it, the more I felt like this was A Thing that Should Happen.

To prevent myself from over-thinking it, I went back to the books, back to the research. If I was going to do something that was probably a-historical, then I should at least have a firmer base in history.

Nephthys didn’t have much on her own, all said and done. Her story is often tied with others: Osiris and Isis the most often, Set on occasion. It is the connection between her sister, Isis, and she that is most often discussed in the places I looked. The two of them are the professional mourners par excellence for Osiris and it is the two of them that protect him. There’s more to it than all of that, but I kept seeing that where Isis went, her sister Nephthys was sure to be there, to follow in her sister’s footsteps. But Nephthys was no slouch when she is depicted or discussed on her own though this seems to have not occurred often: she is a deity who can battle, who can heal, who can drink excessively, and who can do many more things besides. As with them all, she is multifaceted.

Nephthys also didn’t appear to have much in the way if a temple at all. There is record of one small place that seems to have been her own, but all other temple mentions indicate that she was included in the reindeer games of other gods’ temples. This brought me back to the idea of her being a household deity; I mean, after all, Bes was a household deity and he didn’t get his own temple either. Why couldn’t Nephthys be like him in that way?

When an idea won’t leave my head, I push back on it in every conceivable way and then, I give up. Sometimes the ideas are good; sometimes the ideas don’t work out. But this one had a feeling to it that made me think this could work out in my favor. I decided that I would at least give it a short, push to include Nephthys as a household deity with the rest of my household deities.

As I began looking over my household altar space, which is amusingly enough, situated on top of a box, I could practically picture a large bowl on top of it. The bowl color is the color of sand and within that bowl was… paper. Little tiny strips of paper that reminded me of the daily angel message strips my MiL was given when one of her good friends died. Those messages are filled with positive and happy messages, feel-good things that you are meant to focus on throughout the day to guide you ever forward.

The difference between those messages and what I was seeing in my head was that the strips of paper included things that I would want to see in my household. Happy and calm vibes; strong maintenance schedule; clear communication between the household members; etc. These were all things that you would, hopefully anyway, like to have occur in your house and amongst the people of your household.

I could see the bowl filled with various semi-precious stones to help attract the very things that you would want to see, but I could also see a giant feather of ma’at, too, because at the very base of it all, you would want ma’at to flourish within your home.

I pulled out the little purple card I had made for Nephthys many years ago when I began honoring the children of Nut and Geb on their birthdays and tried to figure out where to place it on my household altar. The box I have it not very big. It is just large enough for the things I had kept on it up to now, so I had to rearrange and move things around so I could make room for this sand-colored bowl and Nephthys’ name in addition to the pieces of my household altar space that I felt needed to be retained at all costs.

When I was done, I felt like this could work out at any rate. I placed the bowl behind my icon of Bes and his household deities-in-arms, Wenut, Tawaret, and Wadjet. I was actually very proud of the arrangement and felt like I had done the vision in my head proud (which is not always the case). I felt like this was functional enough for daily rituals but also that Nephthys’s specific function was segmented back enough from the other three so that, while they are all technically fulfilling the household deity dynamic, their paths are separated enough for me to focus on the grouping or specifically on Nephthys, depending on what I’m aiming for.

Then it came time to fill the bowl. My feather of ma’at amulet was the first thing to enter. I batted around the idea of including a magnet of some sort. TTR and I had discussed adding a magnet to attract all the things I was putting out there, perhaps with a feather of ma’at drawn upon its sides, but I couldn’t find a magnet that I felt worked for the moment, so instead, I sat down to write down all the things I wanted to see.

I took a small sheet of notebook paper and wrote down various items that I wanted. I wrote them down on one line apiece, if I could, but no bigger than two lines. And once I had filled an entire page of notebook paper, I cut them all down into strips to wrap them into the bowl around my feather of ma’at paper. This was actually harder than I thought it would be because the sandstone bowl I chose for this purpose is actually a lot smaller than the one I pictured in my head.

Once I was done, I stood back and found some remaining things that needed to be added: fake flowers. I love real flowers but I don’t like in a place where those live for very long. So I pulled some of the fake white flowers I have stashed everywhere and placed them all on top and around the bowl to cultivate what I want to see in my home.

I honestly don’t know if this working out so far. This setup hasn’t been up for very long: a little less than a month. But when I walk over to my household altar to do something in the morning, I can feel the difference. It was stagnated before (partially because I needed to clean and rearrange as I do every three months or so) but also because the feeling that I had needed to be fulfilled before the space could open itself back up to me.

It’s been opened up for three weeks or so now and I can feel the hard work that I put into it reflecting back into the walls and the people who live here. It doesn’t feel as if I have done something wrong or that I shouldn’t have done this. It feels right in that way that a polytheist or pagan will get when they know what they’re doing isn’t necessarily historically accurate but at least seems to be working for the time being.

I have another picture in my head of how this will change and evolve over time, but we’re not there yet. All I know is that I can see what the future of this endeavor will look like and it looks kind of awesome.

Thus far, I have had very little communication with Nephthys on the solo front. She has always been a silent goddess to me; she was never truly mine at any rate. I have had no dreams of her as I have had dreams of Bes and Wenut. I have heard not a peep and maybe that means she is quietly working away, diligently pushing forward the things I asked for with my little bowl of messages.

We’ll see at any rate.

The Third Month & The Third Hour.

The word, elemental, was a good choice for the word of the month. Elemental has a number of meanings that we can look to, but the specific meaning that I felt most appropriate was: “starkly simple, primitive, or basic.” I had made my word-of-the-month choice early on, assuming that I would be broken down again on this journey forward. And this past month honestly felt like I was broken down into constituent parts to build myself back up from the basic layout that was me.

But another word that could have been used for the word of the month could have been emotional. I was “subject to or easily affected by emotion” all throughout the last thirty-one days as I continued forward on this journey of mine.

I assumed that this month wouldn’t set the tone for the rest of the year, just like the last two. This month is a long one, longer than the quickly passing second one or the liminality of the first, but I assumed that nothing about this month would linger. Maybe in another month, another thirty days, we’d see what the rest of the year would look like. But March appears to be when the road map starts to take a little more shape, a little more appearance than the last two months combined.

After being broken down into your emotional pieces, being split apart and fitted back together like a puzzle, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that you know what’s ahead. You feel like you have a level of control you didn’t before, a level of certainty that you didn’t before.

But no matter how many times you look forward with your divination and your emotions finally centered, you never truly know. You can only catch little glimpses. The map has shape and outline, but the specifics are still missing.

 

The Third Month

I had no idea what to expect for the month of March. I had gone into the previous month with a general idea, but nothing specific ever came to me for March. I even pulled cards to try to see something about what was coming, but it gave me only very vague ideas. I felt stumped and a little blind; couldn’t someone give me a little peek about the month ahead?

The first major event of the month was a Positive and a Negative: we finally hired new people to train up and help take some of the edge off on our work load. I was tickled pink because, so long as the person I am training in what I took over after we fired two people in January, this means I can move back into the position I had taken up in November of last year. The other reason I was so thrilled was because new work keeps coming in, but with the same old faces to take it on, we were all feeling the pinch.

While hiring new people is in fact a good thing, it’s also a bad thing. It means that I spend more time focusing on what the new person is doing and capable of taking on. It also means that I have to stop what I am doing so that I can make sure that they are doing things within our standard protocols. So, work has been stressful as I take on back-to-back-to-back calls and meetings to ensure that my primary resource will be able to take on the work I’m training her for and also ensuring that someone who will only slightly be touching things I oversee is capable of taking that on as well.

Some nights, after a long day of training and my own work, I would sit at my desk for a half hour or more to catch up on things that I couldn’t deal with during the business day. I can’t remember the last time I actually made it home from work on time: I never leave at 5 anymore. Most of the other leads are feeling the same way as me and are also stuck in the office afterhours. I keep telling myself that this is just for a little bit longer, but we’ll see if that’s true.

On the heels of the good news, and the actual negative thing related to the above, we lost one of our supervisors. It’s a good thing for her to move on, but the game plan the boss came up with to fill in her role is a nightmare. The supervisor who took over my position last year so I could move into my new position is basically doing exactly what I was doing six months ago. She keeps forgetting that I know exactly what she’s going through, but I won’t remind her until she snaps at me again.

We all keep telling ourselves that good things are coming: new business, new employees, new directions. It still feels like we’re all being flattened under the weight of it all though.

The other good thing this month was that I got married! I am lucky that I didn’t have to actually like plan the wedding itself or the small reception that took place afterward. My SO’s mother, who had talked us into more than just walking into the courthouse, took care of all of that. It was very low-key and very nice. I’m glad it is finally over though. Weddings – even small ones like ours – are expensive and time-consuming.

Even with the things that I needed to see through with the SO, I was more excited than stressed out about it. I tend to be the opposite: stress about it all first and then get excited just before the new thing happens. It was weird having the complete opposite reaction to all of this.

The last thing that came about this month is that I started focusing on the advice I was given last month about Nephthys. The problem is that I knew very little about her. After researching her a bit, I realized that I still didn’t know a whole lot about her. The source material for her is very small and this seems to relate to the fact that she tends to be tied up alongside her sister, Aset.

I began coming up with a ton of ideas to do what I was advised to do. I would throw them around my head just to see where the thoughts would end up. Eventually, I mulled enough on it to come up with an idea that I think would work. When TTR and I kind of discussed it once I felt like I knew what I was trying to do, they seemed to agree that this could work out.

I have to put it into practice now, so we’ll see how well this turns out eventually.

All in all, this month felt like a roller coaster ride with no way off. A lot of the roller coaster stuff was work related, but not all of it. No matter how many times I wanted to stop what I was doing, thinking, or feeling to give me a few minutes to myself, I couldn’t. I was constantly on the go. I had to complete a number of items on my checklist for my wedding at the end of the month and so did the SO. I needed to get things lined up at work for new hires to be trained properly. Every day was a long day and in the middle of all of this, my emotions kept see-sawing back and forth.

March was an emotional month. I would find myself snapping at people for no reason; they didn’t upset me or annoy me or make me feel as tired as I felt. It wasn’t their fault and sometimes when I followed the threads of those emotions, I couldn’t quite figure out where all of it was coming from. Was it really just stress and frustration? Was it something more? Was it just because I had been going a hundred miles an hour and needed to take a fucking minute without being able to do so?

But it was still emotional. I found myself breaking down sometimes in a crying jag, overwhelmed with my emotions. Most of the times I broke down, I was in the car and there was no one around to ask me what was wrong. I couldn’t have explained it all if I wanted to. I wouldn’t have wanted to anyway.

I got through it all. After the wedding and the third week of training, I was able to say that I was feeling a lot more stable. The ups and downs of the roller coaster ride were either easier to get through or they weren’t as high anymore. I may even be able to get off of the damn thing some time next month!

 

The Third Hour

The third hour is about the deceased declaring that, after passing through a gateway of fire and pain, they have become one of the Shining Ones, or Akh. The part that was conspicuously missing was that in order to become transfigured into one of the Shining Ones, not only do you have to work on getting your body in line to wake up from its inert state, you also have to force your emotions to wake up as well.

The body isn’t the only part that requires movement forward; the pieces of one’s soul also have to move forward so that all pieces can be codified back into a single unit before one can declare that they have become one of the akh. To me, the pieces of the soul relate more to one’s emotions than to the body. The body houses all of these pieces of the soul in some form or another, but one’s emotions are also tied to those pieces. And you can’t move ahead until you’re all right in the head.

It often felt like my emotions were being broken down into their component or elemental pieces to force an integration together. I had major ups and downs as my emotional being passed through the fire and pain of the gateway and moved every forward until the parts of my emotional self could integrate back into who I was.

It hurt; all of it hurt. I could feel parts of myself breaking off and trying to run away from it all while the rest of my reached out for those pieces to bring them back to bear. The emotional roller coaster that was happening in real life followed me into my dreams. I couldn’t escape it.

And the lesson I learned last month about taking a step and then stopping to allow the re-integration of the self was difficult to put into practice when I felt a little like I was all over the place, trying to snatch back pieces of myself that wanted to flee. But after all of the constancy of being on-the-go in March, I finally was able to get to the point where I could at least declare that I had been transfigured. It just took longer than I expected.

 

Conclusion

The third hour is more like a footnote in My Heart, My Mother. There is little to give the hour substance in the book beyond the words that the Pharaoh would say after passing through the gateway:

O Bull of the Two Lands… I am divine, I am an Akh, I am powerful and I am seated on the throne of Atum… make a place for me amongst you so that I may sail with Re in the Duat.

I thought that this hour would be easy. It’s about passing through the elemental fire of the gateway and declaring oneself as having been transfigured after passing through the second hour. I was wrong. It didn’t occur to me that the inertia of the second hour was from a physical standpoint; in order to truly become transfigured, one’s emotional well-being needs to be taken into account as well.

This, more than anything, explains why Roberts mentions that there are still being in various phases of transformation in the third hour as well. This never made much sense to me, but now it does. You can’t move forward just because your body is whole; you have to make sure the entirety of your being is whole too.

 

Further Reading

The Second Month & The Second Hour.

I thought that if I had to choose a word to describe this month, it would be inert. The second hour of the Netherworld highlights the Inert Ones, those who are in stasis before they can move on to the next hour – if they even are able to move on at all – and so I assumed going in that “inert” would be my word of the month.

But I found that the real word, the real descriptor for this month, was fortify. If we look at the definition listed at Dictionary-dot-com, we find:

I thought that the second month of the year would begin to set the tone for the rest of the year, but I found that I was wrong. The second month passes by too swiftly for any sort of tone to be enacted, or to even be felt. From one second we are walking the line into February 1st and before we know it, we have passed by 28 or 29 days and see March on the horizon. Nothing concrete truly happens this month; it just provides a firmer road map of what the future will hold.

In the capture I provided above, I found that the phrase “increase the effectiveness of” was also an appropriate descriptor for this second month. At the end of all of this hard work in this year of rebirth, an increase in my own effectiveness could be seen as the sum total of the whole undertaking. It is interesting to see that this increase in effectiveness begins so soon.

This isn’t to say that the second hour of our journey isn’t fraught with inertia, or inertness. It is merely that during the rest period of that inertia, there is also a fortification or building up of oneself going on at the same time. While this may seem dichotomous, it is only through the inertia that we are experiencing that we can sense where we must focus our attention to fortify ourselves.


The Second Month

The end of January gave me a glimpse of what I could expect in February. Three major events have happened this month that are interrelated in a Big Picture kind of way, and of course relate back to my personal rebirth journey.

The first major happening was a Disappointment. As I’ve mentioned, I have a number of irons in the fire and have been working on these irons for a long time. The SO and I decided to try to pull one out to see what happened, but it ended up not working out so the iron was put back in place.

But even though this wasn’t the ending that we wanted, we realized that this Disappointment actually worked out in our favor. This gave us more time to add more heat to the fire that this particular iron is in so that it will be warm enough when we’re finally ready to pull the trigger. I was able to fortify on my end and he has been as well so that when it finally happens, we won’t have to worry nearly as much as we were when we first gave it a shot.

The second event of the month was also a Disappointment: the cracked tooth in the back of my mouth that had been hurting off and on for months had finally come to roost. I had a cavity in that cracked tooth, an absence which had caused an infection, and on top of everything else, the wisdom tooth that was never supposed to come in was sitting behind the cracked tooth, all impacted and shit.

I do not have dental insurance because I am an idiot, so I spent about half of February trying to find an oral surgeon to deal with this issue. Since my roots look like two clawed fingers and are inordinately long, the dental clinic I went to thought it best if a surgeon deals with it. But do you know what? Oral surgeons are not fans of people without insurance and not fans of payment plans. They are also not willing to donate their time to dental clinics.

I spent two weeks working on this health issue nearly non-stop as I found out that I have a higher pain tolerance than most people. I went to work every day while I tried to find someone who would be willing to take a payment plan or cut me some slack on the costs to remove a tooth. Of course, none of them were surgeons.

This time helped me to strengthen myself in a health sort of way. I often ignore my health in favor of everyone and everything else, but I learned that focusing on one’s health is just as important as everything else.

It was a horrendous ordeal removing this tooth. I spent two hours in a dental chair and spent two days recovering from it. While this was a learning experience (AKA, I found a loophole to get me dental insurance since I have other Major Dental Issues that need to be addressed and as TTR pointed out, tooth health is Very Important), it also helped me to jump over a hurdle that I had placed in front of myself.

This experience helped me to reach out to Nephthys as a friend of mine had indicated I should last month. In a fit of pique after spending two hours in a dental chair and emotionally wrung out, I promised her anything if she would just get the damn tooth out of my head. The roots popped out shortly thereafter, which means… I should probably start looking into her a bit more.

The third major event from this month is actually a Positive. After spending twelve years together, the SO and I finally figured we should get married. This is also going to help us with the irons I talked about above probably, so we may as well. I have found out that planning a wedding, even something as low-key as what I want, is A Thing and I don’t recommend it.

If you have to plan your own, find someone to do it for you as much as humanly possible.

While this may not seem like it relates, it is also a way for the SO and I to fortify ourselves especially after the Disappointment we had experienced early on in February. It will be a benefit in a lot of ways and of course, I guess there’s the whole thing about love and stuff.

 

The Second Hour

The second hour has been far more eventful than the first. As I worked on the above things to see me to the next hour, I found that I had to do the same thing. Everything going on this month has had rapid periods of movement as I work to bolster something forward or get something done, but there have also been long moments of inertness.

The periods in between where I am able to stop, sit back, reflect have been useful as I work on the fortifications that one needs to take on to pass through this second hour. You need to be able to reawaken yourself as Sia whispers to the Inert Ones lying passive in this hour. But you also need to take the time necessary to figure out how you’ve reawakened yourself and fit it into the place where it needs to go.

In order to move on, one must be capable of full integration with oneself. The only way that will be possible is if you also take the time to focus on the task and then sit back for a bit. Going full tilt will get no one anywhere for long. It’ll wind up looking more like you’re running in place than anything else. And then there will be no ability to move on.

I think that may have been what happened the last time I tried this. I think I was so focused on the journey that I didn’t stop long enough to absorb what it was that I was trying to do. I didn’t take the time to reflect on the parts of myself that were reawakening or awakening for the first time. And I didn’t let them situate themselves in place before I kept going.

So I’ve learned a lesson: moving forward is necessary, but a need for rest after the movement is also necessary. It is only through this quiet time afterward that you are truly able to put the pieces together, to truly integrate with what has happened.

 

Conclusion

When I first read through My Heart, My Mother, I was more focused on the idea of the Inert Ones in the second hour. It was a focal point for my mind and I wound up sticking on their appearance within the hour. The parts that I failed to integrate when I read through the book originally was that the second hour does more than just show up as a memorial for those who haven’t moved on to the next hour.

As Roberts states:

What we are seeing here in the Book of Night is a renewal of bodies, the reawakening of inert, lifeless forms. They are being told by Sia that they have not died when they entered the mother goddess, but rather that they have to take command again of all of their bodily functions. Hence, as each person begins the journey in the West, their first experience is a renewal and strengthening of all parts of the body…

The second step on this odyssey of the soul has been only a single step, a pause as I integrate what has happened, and then a few more steps forward. Less the phrase “two steps forward, one step back” and more a phrase I came up with earlier this month, “one step forward, pause, two steps forward, pause…” There can be no progression without the ability to fully come to terms with what has happened.

I am excited to see what comes next, when the irons will get pulled, when I will hopefully be able to say that I am noticing the progress I am making and seeing it in the world around me. We’ll see what comes next month, I suppose.

 

Further Reading

The First Month & The First Hour.

If there was any word that we could use to describe the first month of the civil year, and in conjunction with the first hour of my personal journey through the Duat, I would say liminality would be the most appropriate. When you look up the word, liminality on Wikipedia, this is what the first paragraph has to say:

…liminality is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rites, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete. During a rite’s liminal stage, participants “stand at the threshold between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which completing the rite establishes.

The first month of the year doesn’t necessarily set the tone for the rest of the year. We may think that it does when we see the ongoing 24-hour news cycle and our constant connection with what’s happening in the world. But the month of January is merely a signpost, a herald advising that the year has begun and things are coming but we’re not quite there yet. Nothing concrete truly happens in the first month; it just provides you with hints as to what you can expect for the future.

In that quote that I provided from Wikipedia, they talk about “disorientation,” which would also be an adequate word to describe the first month of the New Year. It is disorienting moving from the death of the old year into the birth of the new. It is a tumultuous time, which is why we can often misinterpret the first month as the part of the year where the tone for the next 12 months is set. But again, January does not do this; it only hints at what is to come.

We can say this is true for the first hour of the journey into the afterlife. As my research into various netherworld books seemed to indicate, the first hour is what I referred to as a “non-hour.” It is a signpost and a herald for what is to come, but the work and movement won’t begin until the solar barque passes through the gateway into the Second Hour. And then, things will truly begin.

The First Month

I had my suspicions about what I could expect from the first month of the year. There were a few hints and a few pushes that I would see a lot of changes on the real-life front. However, I wasn’t really expecting that things would be this tumultuous. Even with the above research into liminality and my attempts at philosophical discussion on the topic of said word, I can assure anyone reading this that I didn’t expect shit to get this real so quickly.

Work has been one of those kind of nightmare places where you’re trying to figure out if you’re alive or dead. The first bang went off at work and was followed by two more. The first two bangs were big loud, nuclear fall-out cloud explosions. All of us are still trying to pick up the pieces from those first two bombs. We told ourselves that by mid-February we should be good to go, but with the way things have been going, I don’t really see us un-burying ourselves until March.

The thing is that my boss keeps reminding us that this was a necessary change, a good change. From a holistic point-of-view, her assessment is correct. We did need to make these changes and they are for the betterment of the office and the company as a whole. However, we have to slog through the ash that we ourselves caused by burning shit down around us. And we all voted for it; we all agreed to this change knowing that it needed to happen. And I can say that these changes have caused betterment even though we’re all up to our eyeballs in bullshit every day.

The third bang was a smaller bang and more personally impacting. It frustrated me but I knew it was going to happen long before it did. I had expect the bomb to go off and it did. I can admit why it did and I can even agree that it should have gone off. But that doesn’t make me particularly happy about anything especially considering the day-to-day shit I’m slogging through because of the other things going on.

And I’m… well, I’m frustrated. I can see on Google maps what the fuck the forest looks like, but from my personal vantage point, I can’t see the damn forest because of all the fucking trees. And what annoys me the most about all of this is that there are three other people in the office who are at the same level of the job as I am who come across as inordinately selfish for all of this shit.

As I am slogging through this bullshit, they’re whining that I can’t help them with whatever. Well… yes. That’s what happens when you blow shit up in your own damn face, like we all agreed to do. And unfortunately it sucks that you have to take on more personal responsibility that you used to very happily delegate to me and that I, sadly, would willingly take on. But now it sucks that you can’t shove your shit on me because I’m too busy shoveling my own and you have to deal with the consequences of a decision we all agreed to.

Beyond work, which is sadly a large portion of what my first month of 2019 has entailed, I have had some irons in the fire that I have been poking and prodding for… well, years. These irons are finally getting hot and ready to get pulled out for use, although I have a bit more to do before we finally get to there. I can safely say that I am very, very ready to pull these damn irons from the fire.

The First Hour

The first hour has been, well, uneventful in the grand scheme of things. You would think that there would be lights and sirens maybe, just a little hint that the work has begun. But aside from dreams and the ongoing Tarot Card Drama™, there is very little going on from the afterlife front. I suppose I should be grateful that nothing has picked up considering everything else that has been going on this past month.

So far, the first hour has been more preparation than anything else. I’ve been taking the time that I have available to look inward, knowing that once I reach the gateway, I’ll begin moving forward. I’ve found bits of myself, pieces that have been highlighted for the upcoming work that I have needed to look through, to address in some way, shape, or form. None of these things are personal failings – merely things that became highlighted for me as I navigated slowly forward.

I’m not horrible at taking the magnifying glass to myself to poke and prod at the things that need to be reviewed, but I’m not the best at coming out of the look-see feeling like I’ve made progress. Sometimes momentum or progress isn’t necessary, but I always come away feeling like I need to have something tangible in hand after the review. And if I can’t come away with that tangible something, then I feel like I wasted my time and energy in the doing.

After conversing with TTR about something that I needed to look into and their giving advice on how to do this, I was able to at least get some movement on something that needed to be addressed in some way. While I didn’t really come out of that with a solution per se, I realized that this wasn’t really a situation that fell into “I need a solution” territory.

  • I needed to acknowledge what was happening – check.
  • I needed to acknowledge the cause of it – check.
  • I needed to admit how it was impacting me – check.

There wasn’t anything that required a way to fix it. It is what it is. I think the year ahead will probably help in all of this, but I can only really wait and see on that. I needed to admit that this was a thing and I needed to at least understand the cause for it. I was able to do that and in the doing, I feel more prepared than ever for the next step.

Of course, we’ll see how prepared I really am soon enough.

Conclusion

Before completing my research for the first hour of the various Books of the Afterlife, I thought that I would go into the first hour and immediately make some form of progress. I thought the progress would look like something tangible, but I was wrong. My research indicated that the first hour would almost be a sort of interim moment between the decision to move forward and the second hour when movement would begin.

As Hornung states:

The nightly journey of the sun is the focus of all the Books of the Netherworld, and consistent with this, it also furnishes the ordering and creative principle for the spaces in the hereafter. This nocturnal regeneration of the sun demonstrates, by way of example, what powers of renewal are at work on the far side of death. At the same time, the journey occurs in the spaces of the human soul, in which a renewal from the depths becomes possible. That is an odyssey of the soul is emphasized by the Egyptians through the indication that the sun god descends into the depths as a ba-soul…

The nocturnal journey leads through an inner region of the cosmos that was regarded not only as the netherworld and the depths of the earth, but also as water (the primeval water, the Nun) as darkness, and as the interior of the sky.

The first step on the odyssey of the soul is little more than putting two feet on the first step of the bus or train that you’ve decided to take to get to your destination. It is merely a herald, a signpost for the future that this is a moment that Change Is Going to Happen But Not Yet.

I am tired of waiting at least from the spiritual aspect of things, but I am ready for the movement forward to begin to take form and show me the overall outcome. But that could just be my impatience talking.
Further Reading

Ritual365: Four Week Check-In.

The original deal I made with the gods was that I would wake them every morning with a small ritual. That ritual would include offerings, candles, and incense. I was given a sort of carte blanche to create the ritual and to add whatever I so desired beyond those staples to the deal.

The deal morphed to include the rites and rituals that TTR and I had been discussing, off and on, for months: Making Ma’at 2k19, the monthly Propitiation, the akhu ritual, and the monthly Execration. It seemed silly to be doing a daily ritual and not to include the rites and rituals we had already been discussing.

The deal changed yet again after the New Year to include the idea that we, as Kemetics, need to branch out of our comfort zones. We have handfuls of gods that we trust and have developed relationships with, but there are so many out there that are left in the wings and, for the most part, are ignored. They needed to be included or at least, acknowledged in some way, in an effort to put a theory into its testing phase.

The original deal was a large task. It… I knew it was asking a lot of me especially since I know how I get over time. Every day rituals with no days off (not for illness, not for what others may deem as ritual impurity, not for major upheavals, or loss of spoons) is a large drink to swallow but I had agreed to do it as part of this year and the things that are coming down the spiritual turnpike. The additions of these other rituals since seemed like drops in the bucket in comparison.

There is a lot going on.

The Daily Ritual

As I’ve spent the last four weeks using the ritual that I had created the day before the New Year began, I have come to a single conclusion: I fucking hate it. Every morning, I get up after a lot of grumbling about getting up and go about the rite to feed my gods using the words I had crafted together in a rush on the last day of 2018.

It had started off much bigger than it is now and it was unwieldy. There were too many influences in the ritual itself that caused me to feel like I was constantly going, “what the fuck,” as I gave to my gods. It felt like I was being pulled in too many directions for it to be more than barely functional, which is why I cut it down a hell of a lot to get to where I am today.

Even after I left pieces of the original ritual on the cutting room floor, I realized that I still hated it. I hate the words. I hate the gestures. I hate the way that I have things set up in the formal rite itself. Since none of my gods who take part in this daily ritual have said anything about it, I recognize that it is probably only myself that hates everything. Maybe they like it as it is because I’m finally paying attention to them regularly again.

I recognize that I need to do something about all of this. I can’t go through the next eleven months with this ritual that I absolutely frigging hate to be used and used and used every day. I just can’t. I don’t feel the way I do with other rituals: content with the working that’s been done. I need to figure out something better and I need to apparently write it down in a notebook specific for rituals that I felt compelled to buy a few weeks back. So… maybe it won’t be as long to save my hand from cramping.

I was also not prepared for other gods wanting to get into this daily ritual thing. I had set up the original rubric to only include Sekhmet, Ptah, Hetheru, and Heru-Wer. It seemed that it was the most appropriate to include those main deities in this daily ritual since they are the ones that I have the closest relationships with.

But as I continued forward, I realized it seemed silly to not include Bes and Wenut. And then it seemed even sillier to not include Tawaret. The ritual seemed to grow by leaps and bounds the longer I thought about it. As time has gone on, no one else has really clamored to be added in although I suspect that, with the way things are moving forward for me, there may be more additions over the next year.

The one thing I wasn’t really expecting from all of this was the low-key push from Ra at the start of the year to formulate a daily rite for him and him alone. He doesn’t want to be included in the daily rites for the gods in my home, but he does want to be paid attention to. I started this off with a few words here and there that can succinctly be described as “hoo ra.” This seemed sufficient to start off with, but it was clear that this was never going to last long.

I need more and this has been made clear, but I am frankly not sure how to go about this. I have some resources that I am waiting on to help me figure out what I need and I have a specific amulet that I have commissioned for this (at Ra’s request no less) daily rite so I have a general idea in mind. But what I’m actually going to say? I have no idea.

The Additional Gods Rituals

Throughout the year, I have a number of alerts that pop up on my Google calendar to let me know what god is associated with a particular day and what festivals are coming up. This calendar will change around Wep-Ronpet at the request of Ptah before my religious New Year begins, but in the mean time, the original dates are still in my calendar to remind me to pay homage to my gods in larger rituals and rites.

In addition to including my primary gods, my calendar includes snippets for other gods that I have had passing interactions with: Geb, Mut, Ihy, and a few others. When the first day of Geb appeared to come up on my calendar, I thought about the idea of doing rituals for the gods that, on the whole, Kemetics have little to do with.

This was a conversation with TTR that morphed into my idea that I was going to do this thing by creating rituals and letting people know what was coming up according to my calendar. We have jointly celebrated a ritual for Geb and a very, very, very, very long festival for Ptah (the Festival of Ptah is an 11-day festival, which also has a 7-day festival for Ptah and the Winged Disk in the same time frame) that is actually still going on.

I have found that while these additional rituals have tired me out in conjunction with Real Life nonsense going on, I feel like I am headed in the right direction by branching out from my comfort zone. I am definitely not a fan of creating rituals and rites for this since I feel, based on my perceived failure regarding my daily rite, I am not very good at it. But I like the idea that gods who are not as well known as others or approached often are being thought of, discussed, and paid homage to with something that I have put out there.

It seems to be working well. Other people are starting to get into the spirit of what it is that we are doing and there has been some discussion about other people putting rituals out there for public consumption. I’m interested to see how things further develop.

The Monthly Rites with TTR

As we were planning for the year ahead, TTR and I discussed additional rites to be completed each month. For the most part, they are putting the ritual materials out there for this and I’ve been able to just follow some words on my screen so that I can participate in the year of rites we had been discussing for some time. I have added bits and pieces from my own ideas regarding rituals into what they publish for the upcoming rite, but for the most part, these rituals are fairly easy for me since I don’t have to do the research to get the words out and into the world.

So for that, and that alone, we should also say a hearty and resounding “thank you” to them since I can attest just how time-consuming the research portion can be for these things.

That said, I like the communal effort that’s been going out. I can’t say for certain that other people are truly participating beyond TTR and I, but I do know that some people have at least mentioned participating. I also like the idea of a bunch of solitary users getting together to push their intent into the world. This is frankly the closest I will ever get to being a part of a group for my religious activities so it’s kind of nice to be able to take a bit of a break from being on my own all the time.

Out of all of the rituals that we have done, I think I like the Monthly Ma’at ritual the best. This isn’t necessarily because the other rituals are bad or anything – they’re not. I just like the idea of promoting Ma’at into the world, which is something that I have wanted to do for some time, but haven’t been able to really figure out how to achieve the goal so to speak. Now that there is a rubric out there, I know how to do it.

The ritual I like the least is the monthly akhu ritual. I already do a lot for my ancestors although they’ve fallen to the wayside while I become more focused on the gods in recent weeks. But my primary annoyance is that Wesir is included in the rite. I understand the need for him there and I won’t remove him, but this hearkens back to more my own problems than anything else. Maybe the monthly 6th day rites to Wesir will help me work through my issues with him. Or not.

Conclusion

All in all, this past month has been very busy. There is a lot going on from the religious world, which hasn’t been the case in a very long time. It’s a little bit like I’m putting on a pair of very old and comfortable jeans that I haven’t seen in a long time. It was a little uncomfortable at first, but now that I’ve been wearing them back in, it feels much better than it had been earlier this month.

As I was telling the SO about all of this stuff going on, I told him that I kind of liked it. It wasn’t the fact that I was finally getting back into the swing of things; it’s more that I feel like I have a reason to do all of this. When I was doing it for myself, I didn’t feel like there was much of a reason to keep this up regularly. But now I’m beginning to understand the reasoning and they’re important ones.

The funniest thing about all of this is that, while I still complain about Bigger Picture, now I can appreciate that answer from my gods a lot more. I’m beginning to understand Bigger Picture in ways I didn’t think I would have been able to understand even six months ago.

The other thing is that, while I understand why this is a thing, I have to wonder what the next year is going to look like. I already know the answer to the question I’ve been asked about what comes next, but that doesn’t mean that I know what that is going to look like. I’m not worried about it yet – I figure I’ll start freaking out about it in the fall – but it’s going to definitely change things dramatically for me.

Hopefully this year prepares me for it.

Further Reading

Bull of His Mother.

In October of this year, I was handed down a directive to re-read Hathor Rising and My Heart, My Mother. It had been a while since I had been given homework – and by an unknown quarter, no less!, though I suspect I know where it came from – so I didn’t immediately balk at the request.

It was around the same time that I received this directive that I had decided that I would proceed with the cycle of rebirth that I had failed to see through 3 years ago. Considering how thought-provoking and useful I had found both books during the process three years ago, I could see the wisdom in re-reading them by the end of the year.

What I wasn’t expecting as I blew through Hathor Rising was how much of the book I had actually forgotten. There were whole chapters filled with very interesting tidbits that relate in some form to either my relationships with my primary gods or to the regeneration cycle I had agreed to undertake, which were practically brand new to me.

One of the items that I got stuck focusing on for a while as I continued my readathon was about Bull of His Mother, or Kamutef. While this is an epithet that has been associated with other deities, as I will explain further below, in the instance of Hathor Rising, the author is discussing the regenerative properties of the syncretized version of Amun as Amun-Min-Bull-of-His-Mother.

As I researched the name Kamutef further, I found that Amun-Re in the New Kingdom also utilized Kamutef, who has a small shrine space or sanctuary outside of Mut’s Asheru sacred lake at Karnak, in his name as Amenemopet to regenerate himself each year.

While the information I gleaned about Kamutef, and the syncretic Amun-Min-Bull-of-his-Mother all very interesting for what I was going to be undertaking myself, it was the actual epithet “Bull of His Mother” that stayed with me as I researched.

DSC07286 The strong Bull of his Mother

As I mentioned, I was familiar with this epithet to some extent as I had seen it in association with various Horus iterations during one or more of my previous research extravaganzas. It is through this phrase that whichever Horus we are speaking of (both the younger and the elder) assume the role of king from their father. I had also seen it, or dreamed that I had seen it, associated with Geb. (Here’s a link to a conversation about it. Trigger warning for sexual assault.)

The gist of the associations with these gods is that it is through a full assumption of their father’s role – from son to the “fecundator” of their mothers that they take on the role of king. The father and son are the agents of the rebirth cycle while the mother is a seemingly passive vessel in the undertaking. She is providing the necessary environment for the son to be reborn into the role their father has bequeathed to them.

The idea that the womb played a sort of passive role in the rebirth of the king isn’t new to me. Sekhmet plays a similar role in the Pyramid Texts, where it is her womb that allows the deceased pharaoh to be reborn into akh. It is not from her womb that they are born; merely the act of entering the womb that seems to bestow that power unto the pharaoh. (This kind of highlights, in my opinion, the idea that ancient Egyptians knew very little about the bodies of people with wombs.)

The purpose behind this assumption of the father’s role in its entirety is that it is through the mother that the son is to hope for an ever-repeating life. It is this passiveness on the part of the mother in the cycle of rebirth that, I think, is required for the son’s elevation to the role of their father. Their mother must provide a habitable environment for this ability to manifest their own rebirth cycle but she doesn’t actively take part in the act itself.

The fertility that comes through the regenerative properties of one who is a Bull of His Mother is immune to death, so to speak. The person or god in question is capable of renewing himself over and over again and in so doing, also provides the cycle of rebirth over and over again for those who have ruled before. In effect, through the assumption of this role, the deities mentioned above and subsequent human pharaohs, are able to provide ever-lasting life for not only themselves but their forebears as well.

In addition to the hints of a constant and forever sort of rebirth cycle, the incestuous relations between mother and son allowed the sons to fully appropriate the title of ruler from their fathers. It also gave them the ability to deny “linear time”; the role allowed them to change the succession of generations by writing the past and present into a single person unified person. (This concept isn’t so different from the discussions regarding mythic time.)

With the acceptance of this epithet and the role associated with it, there would be continuity without fear of facing chaos like those of the Intermediate periods with the deity or human pharaoh assuming the full role of his father. As mentioned in the entry for Kamutef in The Ancient Gods Speak: “being the father and the son possesses an unquestionable legitimacy.”

So in this way, the epithet lends credence to the legitimacy of the succession. By assuming the role of one’s father in every capacity, the new pharaoh is ensuring continuity and the ongoing rebirth cycle that all pharaohs hoped to achieve.

While this particular epithet seems to be more commonly associated with a variety of gods, there was a specific festival called the Harvest Festival that the human pharaohs would perform so that they could fulfill the role of Bull of His Mother on a country-wide scale.

In this festival, which dates back to the Middle Kingdom, the pharaoh completed a ritual that allowed them to take on this mantle to regenerate the crops of the country. He and the priests would complete a fertility ritual to ensure that the crops for the upcoming year would be abundant.

I suspect that the Bull of His Mother epithet may have in fact had more to do with the consecration of a living pharaoh’s son to take the mantle of kingship upon the death of his predecessor. Based on what I have found during my research into both this epithet and its associated deity, Kamutef, it makes sense that the “Bull of His Mother” function played a larger part than a yearly Harvest Festival.

In effect, the Bull of His Mother epithet is associated with the ability for the sons to fully consecrate themselves in the roles of their fathers. While the epithet can have negative associations (as in the case of the possible association with Geb), it seems that it is more intended as an epithet to engender the vehicle of one’s own ability to renew themselves.

texas longhorn

There can be no doubt as to why I found my exploration of the Bull of His Mother fascinating.

The next year is a year of death and rebirth. I have been asked to die for my gods and I have agreed to go through with this moment of rebirth. Not only will the rebirth cycle I am undertaking benefit myself, but it will also benefit my gods in the long-term. Reading about an epithet and its associative deity that is capable of engendering its own vehicle of rebirth seemed, well, opportune and timely.

It makes sense to me that, in order for me to induce my own rebirth that I should assume the mantle of the Bull of His Mother. This is an epithet, and a deity, associated with the very things that I must undertake. And it would be a benefit to all parties involved if I can use this Bull of His Mother epithet as a sort of blueprint to see through what I need to see through.

As I was discussing the Bull of His Mother with TTR, they mentioned that Mut could also prove useful. “Mut is said to be “the mother who became a daughter,” or “the daughter-mother who made her begetter,” expressing a power of self-creation similar to that expressed for Amun by the epithet kamutef, ‘bull of his mother’, meaning one who is his own father.” (Link.)

While this was an avenue of possibility that I hadn’t considered before, it didn’t feel quite right to me. For some reason, the idea of becoming a god who could help me move forward on my necessary quest for ever-lasting life during my own rebirth cycle just felt wrong. I’ve since come to the realization that for the regenerative properties I am looking for, I need to undertake the epithet of Bull of His Mother to see it through as opposed to becoming either Mut or Kamutef. The assumption of the epithet feels more in tune with what I need to achieve.

So here I am, or there I will be at any rate… Satsekhem-Bull of His Mother. I guess I can only wait and see how far the assumption of this mantle pushes me in the upcoming months as I willingly die for my gods.

Receive the crook of your Father and the flail of Bull-of-His-Mother. You are the seed of the Lord of Abydos. May he give strength entirely.

– p. 95, Hathor Rising

Further Reading

  1. Hathor Rising by Alison Roberts
  2. My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts
  3. The Ancient Gods Speak edited by Donald B. Redford
  4. Temples of Ancient Egypt edited by Byron E. Shafer

Lady of Rage.

Zep Tepi is the moment we all know as the First Time, or the First Occasion. It is that single perfect moment in which creation has been created. It signifies when the world is new and whole and perfect. It is that split second in time where the primeval mound has risen from the lifeless waters of the Nun to announce that the world has been made. It is perfection personified in a single yet brief period of time.

It is also an endless moment. It moves across time and space. It is always happening; it has already happened. Mythic time makes this part of the myth difficult for us to fully understand. We can connect to this concept of mythic time when we discuss the number of creation myths found in ancient Egypt (after thousand of years and varying degrees of import associated with specific cult centers, it’s bound to happen). But when we take a look at it without associating it with the cosmogonies, we can sometimes forget that Zep Tepi has already happened, is currently happening, and is going to happen.

In effect, Zep Tepi is more than just a single second in time from eons back; from before humans walked the earth and before gods ruled. It happens every day. And it will happen again and again every second of every day. And it will happen many years in the future after I am buried and have turned to dust.

But Zep Tepi goes beyond the cosmogony of ancient Egyptian creation myth. It goes beyond simply a focal point for us to dither and reinterpret as we speak with our community members. Zep Tepi happens every day, and it happens to all of us every day.

It is the moment the sun peers above the horizon. The second before you step into an important meeting about a raise with your boss. The decision before you start eating right and exercising. The time you roll away from your desk to take a break from work. The moment after you’ve taken your anti-anxiety medication and they begin to take effect. The moment you put your car into drive. The deep breath you take before you make an important phone call.

Zep Tepi happens every day in a thousand little ways.

This is not a new concept for us. We have had this discussion numerous times. In fact, I think we’ve hashed it out to the point where many Kemetics in the group spaces I haunt can all agree that Zep Tepi is an ongoing renewal on a personal and fundamental level in all of our lives. It encapsulates any number of moments in our day-to-day lives and can be as large as a sunrise or as small as taking one’s medication.

But the portion of the conversation that does tend to get glossed over is what leads up to that moment of Zep Tepi. In the examples I’ve listed above, we do not usually discuss what precedes each split second of Zep Tepi in our lives. In many instances the time before that moment of rebirth hits us is a battle unto itself. And the next second it is just like when the primordial mound raises from the watery chaos of the Nun.

There are any number of things that we may have to go through before we can achieve our personal Zep Tepi, no matter what we may consider a personal Zep Tepi. Any single person who has had to have these types of uncomfortable conversations either with themselves or other people can attest that it is not an easy process. Anyone who has had to work on themselves in some form or another can assert that the way forward was fraught with pain and suffering. There are any number of setbacks that may have or probably did occur before that moment of renewal is upon us.

The path leading us to Zep Tepi is not an easy one.

Here it comes !

O you who consume your arm, prepare a path for me, for I am Re, I have come forth from the horizon against my foe. – excerpt from Spell 11, The Book of Going Forth by Day translated by R.O. Faulkner

In high school, there were two distinguishing features that people used to tell the difference between my best friend and I. (We did resemble one another.) The first was that I was the shortest one in our friend group, which was true. I was tiny in comparison and there were a good 2 – 3″ between me and the next shortest person. The second was that I was an angry kind of person, which was also true. Being a short, angry ball of energy followed me out of high school and into other adventures in my life.

Both were a constant and, or so I thought, I could do nothing about either. I wore them like badges of honor. I was a little ball of rage that could make grown men cry; and wasn’t it just hilarious that I was so tiny to boot?

I’ve written about it all before, but suffice to say I was perfectly fine with it for a very long time before Sekhmet took me by the face, squeezed my cheeks together, and said, “cut the shit, and fix it.” I argued about it since this seemed like something I really didn’t want to do and I was given a caveat to the first message. “Or else.” I was never sure what the “or else” could entail, but I figured if she was telling me to fix it, and tacking on something as menacing as “or else”, then there was probably a serious problem.

The irony of the situation was not lost on me, of course.

I railed against her.

I told her that she was a hypocrite.

I whined at her.

I cried a lot.

I didn’t want to get rid of it. I wanted it to remain because it was a part of who I was, it was a part of my very identity. If I were to get rid of it, then who would I be? She should have been able to understand my point of view easily since, I felt, she was in similar circumstances. But no matter how many times I tried to get out of it, I came back to Sekhmet’s message to me: “cut the shit, and fix it. Or else.”

It took me a very long time to work on it. I knew that there was no quick fix here, but I had hoped for one.

As the years had past, the primary moment that the rage began had grown. Instead of it having been created at a single fixed moment in my life and remaining the same size it had been at that moment of its own creation, I found that it had been built up over the years by a variety of traumas until it was very large. It was exceedingly painful to work on. I couldn’t go from 0 to 100 on this. I had to take my sweet time as I slowly peeled back the layers to find the very start, the very beginning.

I had always been under the impression that rage was, well, healthy. I thought that having it was a good thing. But something that I had learned as I worked on this was that anger could be healthy; rage was not. I had to work down the ball of rage until I could manage what was left before I could finally turn to Sekhmet and say, “See what I have done? I did it.”

But I had caused another problem in the fixing. Out of fear, I wouldn’t let myself feel angry. I had spent so much time working on this part of myself that I was worried what would happen if I got angry. I kept my emotions locked up tight until I thought I would break from it all. I finally fell apart and realized that I had gone from one extreme to the other; I had gone from razor teeth and claws to a featureless void of no emotion with periodic explosions.

I had to learn hard how to express myself. I had to educate myself on what was and was not healthy. I had to let myself feel my emotions, but instead of bottling them up into a nice little pocket of rage in my chest, I had to express them in a way that would benefit myself and others. I had broken myself down to fix the problem, but I had only done part of the work to build myself back up.

After working down the traumas, working them all down until I had a functional level of anger that was healthy. Then I had to teach myself how to express these emotions in a healthy way, in a way that would benefit myself, the work that I had done, and the people around me. I’m finally at a point where I can say that while I do experience anger at a variety of things, I can finally express it in a healthy way that doesn’t involve broken things or people.

My first true moment of Zep Tepi was after all the rage had been pulled from its pocket and I could breathe again without feeling like I would melt down. My second moment was being able to express my frustrations and anger in a way that benefited myself, my life, and my goddess.

Rage

I have flown up like the primeval ones, I have become Khepri, I have grown as a plant, I have clad myself as a tortoise, I am the essence of every god… – excerpt from Spell 83, The Book of Going Forth by Day translated by R.O. Faulkner

After I had realized that I needed to build my house back up, I sent myself on a mission to find something that would benefit me in the long run. I had to find a part of myself that had been missing for a very long time. Another piece of me had hidden that part of myself away in a safe place for later because that piece of me had grown tired of the world, tired of the gods, tired of living.

When I finally found that part of me again, I was reminded a bit of the Book of the Celestial Cow where Ra is mentioned to have become old. As quoted from this piece by Edward Butler:

Re learns that there are humans plotting against him because the furthest limits of his realm are far removed from his living divinity. The myth offers two immediate symbols of this distance or gap between Re and his subjects. The first is Re’s elderliness and, the second, the mineral metaphors used to describe him: his bones like silver, his flesh like gold, his hair like lapis lazuli. Re is elderly, not as an absolute quality, but relative to those of his subjects who are much younger in the scale of being.

I could feel the difference between myself and this part of myself. She was elderly in the context of Ra above: she was older than myself and had seen untold things in the time when she had been active. I referred to her as ancient-me, which seems to amuse as well as irritate. I was doing my job at any rate if I could get amusement out of the seriousness of the situation.

What I found when I discovered this piece was that the hard work I had done to myself at Sekhmet’s push had not been done to this older facet. In fact, I would say that, if I had to associate her with my own path, she looked more like 2012 era me than anything else: always angry, ready to pop at the hint of even the slightest provocation.

I also saw in her the same Sekhmet I have seen over and over again throughout my dealings with her: a volcano that has been dormant for years, but that could explode at any moment. The plume of gases that was constantly being released to make room for yet more rage was a miasma. I had to work on that for her so that we could continue on to the next steps in our journey.

The rage that had fostered in her had similar earmarks to my own and similar earmarks to Sekhmet’s, but at the heart of it all, it was entirely her own. She had made of it, just as I had made of it, a core part of herself. And that core part was necrotic from the years of adding to it.

I had to condense years’ worth of shadow work in a limited amount of time so that we could clear out the heart that had gone stale, first after years of disuse and second after years of fortifying it with white-hot anger. In the working, I discovered that, much as I had found for myself, she had never figured out a healthy and proper way to convey her feelings of anger. She had bottled them up until she was ready to break from it all.

As I worked on this other piece of myself, I began to wonder if this, too, was a core issue for Sekhmet. We know her as the Lady of Rage, of fire and fury, but we often don’t ask her to tell us how she’s feeling. Based on the myth I linked to above, at no point did Ra give her the tools she would need to fix herself, much less to express herself in a healthy and constructive way.

Maybe Ra never wanted to give her those tools or maybe he never knew what they looked like because he, too, suffers from the same thing. The whys and what-fors really don’t matter.

All that I kept coming back to as I worked on that other piece of myself was that this was something that Sekhmet could benefit from, if for no other reason than because then, the dormant volcano wouldn’t constantly be spewing ash and miasma into the air. And maybe the eventual eruption would be healthier than the eventual destroy-’em-all eruption that we all fear.

Perhaps in her directives to us, to me and to other me, to the other devotees out there who have anger issues, Sekhmet is looking for the quick-fix or any fix, really, to work on her own issues. Perhaps in the push to “cut the shit, and fix it; or else” she is asking us to teach her how to turn herself into a better god, to work on her root troubles, and come out of it a little less angry, a little less fear-inducing, a little more than just a lioness ready to slaughter at the request of the god who fathered her.

I think, at the very root of it all, Sekhmet is looking for her own version of Zep Tepi. She is hoping for that single moment of cosmological perfection where the world is new, or perhaps merely the renewal that predisposes the many versions of Zep Tepi that we see and feel every day.

Just as this other part of myself both deserves and needs that Zep Tepi, so too does Sekhmet. And as much as I may be jaded by everything that I’ve seen or done, I’m going to continue to work towards that goal.

Further Reading

Home & Hearth.

Years ago when I began interacting with other pagans online, I found myself fascinated by their discussions about how they had integrated their religion into their households. I would read their words about household shrines and practices, household deities and their veneration with a feeling of such desire it could choke me sometimes with its depth.

The prospect of including one’s religion in their home life was foreign to me. My childhood was not overly religious and to my mind, including religion in the home meant asking Saint Anthony to find something lost or my mother doing her Hail Marys before a long trip. It was the little moments that meant religion had some foundation in one’s household, not an entire subdivision of a religious practice.

This isn’t to say that the little things like those described above were not enough or integrating one’s ingrained religious beliefs into day-to-day living. They were what I knew as a child and were sufficient at the time. But as I explored myself and the religion I had found, I found such a deep desire in going still further than the little things.

I found myself wanting a household shrine, dedicated specifically to the daily running of the home. I wanted a god, or many, whose specific realm was all the myriad things that make up running an entire household. I wanted what I saw in others’ practice and wanted to make it my own. I found myself longing more and more but couldn’t find what I desired from a Kemetic standpoint.

Household shrines, according to Egyptologists, were most likely in use for the ancient Egyptian laity but how important those spaces may have been is an enigma. Even knowing that it is feasible that they did in fact worship gods in their homes is good information to have, but it didn’t help me over much as I floundered my way on my path.

I kept thinking that I just wanted a space for gods whose sole purpose was, as with Hestia, to be the deity associated with hearth and home.

There were some netjeru who could fulfill the role I was seeking: Hetheru, Bes, Tawaret, and Djehuty to name a few. But I found that my attempts to lure either Hetheru or Djehuty in this way failed. Every time I considered approaching Tawaret, something pushed me off of that line of thinking. At this point, one could assume from this that I then turned to Bes and went that route.

They’d be wrong.

My relationship with Bes had always been a sort of ephemeral thing; there was no substance behind it. It was just little things here and there but nothing beyond that. It didn’t feel appropriate to reach out to him then, so I left him alone while I struggled.

I went through altar porn and blog posts. I looked into how the Romans and Greeks did it in antiquity, trying to cobble something together that would feel right. But every time I looked into what they did, I found myself staring down a dark hole that seemed to have a giant neon NOPE sign blazing down in my face. The information I was learning was interesting, but it wasn’t for me.

I got tired of wanting and tired of not finding. With the sort of stubborn headed foolishness that is my personal knack, I decided I didn’t need gods. I didn’t need to know what other people were doing. I didn’t need any of that nonsense! It obviously wasn’t what I should be focusing on anyway!

So I began moving away from gods and others’ practices. I began looking deep within and all around, trying to find something that I could cobble together so that the want would finally go away.

Adventure seeker on an empty street, just an alley creeper, light on his feet. A young fighter screaming, with no time for doubt… – I Want It All by Queen

If I was asked to describe the one prevalent thing in my practice in a single word, the first thing that would come out of my mouth would be: foundations. I hear this so often from my gods, in my daily Tarot card pulls, and from a variety of other quarters. I am constantly being reminded to go back to the basics, go back to the foundations, go back to the start so that I can either build a new base or work on fixing up the existing building blocks in place.

When I decided that I wasn’t going to force myself into what I saw others crafting for themselves in the realm of their household shrines, I thought about the ongoing message about the basics. I had to build this from the ground up and the only way to really get there was to decide what I was really looking for.

Eyeballing pictures from other peoples’ altars was all fine and well, but that didn’t a practice make. Even reading their blog posts or comments on forums didn’t really help me.

I wanted a space that was about, well, my home. I wanted it focused on the people who inhabited my home, who lived here day in and day out with the good and with the bad. I wanted a place that sort of cried out to everyone about who we are as a family and what this place is as our home.

With whispers of “foundations” in my mind, I began trying to figure out what our home was about. And you know what? That was pretty damn hard. I didn’t know who we were as a family. We’ve been living in a very small place in general agreement that this living situation is temporary. Yeah, well, temporary though it may feel, we’ve been here for eight years now.

Even with all of that, it was still difficult to figure out who we were because we’ve never really put our mark on this place. It’s only been in the last two years that we’ve finally situated ourselves where we’ve come to the determination that we may leave this place at any given moment, but in the mean time, we’ve had to put down roots… roots that we’ll cut if and when we move on.

The transitory sort of feeling to our home made it difficult to figure out what I wanted to achieve for a foundation, so I started color-coding certain portions of the year on my Place of Truth, hoping that I’d get somewhere with this home and hearth altar eventually.

It was actually out of my four-times annual change out of my Place of Truth that I was finally able to come to a certain general idea about who I am as a person. And out of that, I was able to kind of define who my family is and what our home should be like:

  1. We’re in transition.
  2. We’re nerds in every sense of the word (books, video games, random facts, etc).
  3. We’re jokesters.
  4. We prefer comfort and functionality over frills.
  5. Our home is warm (sometimes a little too warm).
  6. Our home is filled with laughter.
  7. Our home is not very well lit, but at least the walls are light-colored so that what natural light is let in, it reflects… in our eyes…
  8. Our home has its problems, but we’ll work through it.

These ideas formed the basis, or foundation, of what I wanted my household altar to look like. I started adding little bits and pieces to my Place of Truth that I felt kind of indicated who we were based on my list.

I added toys from my son and from my significant other. I put bits of crystals and doo-dads that made me think it kind of indicated who we were. With my general color scheme, I was able to tie everything together into a cohesive theme until I felt that, well, I wasn’t doing too bad for all of that.

I made sure to spend time at the space. I would light Reiki-infused candles with a specific purpose in mind, depending on what purpose I wanted to achieve. I would pull daily cards for my son or myself there that had a more general message than anything specific. But above all, I felt that this place was a more than adequate symbol for who we are and what our home is like.

It took years for it to get built up to a point where it stopped feeling like something I had cobbled together on the fly and began to feel more like something established. It began to feel like it was something with… well… a solid foundation.

I gotta get me a game plan, gotta shake you to the ground. Just give me what I know is mine. People do you hear me, just give me the sign… – I Want It All by Queen

Once I felt comfortable, I was thrown another curve ball because Bes began showing up. This was partly my fault. For years, I had assured myself that I would purchase myself a protective amulet of Bes for every day wear. Not long after the amulet came home, I began to feel him haunting my already well-laid foundation at my household altar space.

It took some back and forth before I finally was able to get a straight answer out of him. He wanted to join this realm of my life, but before he could do so, I needed to get a solid… you guessed it… foundation in place. I was not surprised by this answer in the slightest.

Once I had come to terms with this, I realized that I felt comfortable with the idea of adding him into the place. What had first seemed confusing and a little weird, now seemed like a perfectly good idea.

When I began working on my home/hearth altar space, it seemed almost like adding a god or six into the mix would be like forcing them into a niche that wasn’t made for them. But now, I realized that out of all of the building I had been doing, I had still kept a space available for a god… if one decided to show up eventually.

Or maybe I always expected him to show up one day.

I looked around and found an icon that I felt would be appropriate for my small space and inserted him into something that I had worked hard on making on my own. As I set his icon in place for the first time, it felt a little like things were finally coming together in a way that I had always dreamed of but hadn’t really ever expected.

Bes, of course, brought friends with him to add to the space. It was not that long after I had added his icon to my space that he asked me to include Wenut and Tawaret, in whatever capacity I so desired, to the mix. I very quickly found hand-made wooden pieces of hippos, snakes, and bunnies that I felt would fit the bill. He seemed pleased with my selection and I was soon welcoming those two ladies into my home. They have proven to be far more quiet than Bes, who isn’t exactly a chatty type of god.

Now the three of them haunt my home and hearth altar. Periodically, I focus on the gods that haunt this space. And periodically, I focus on the family and home that this space is supposed to symbolize.

Together, we’ve managed to build things into a functional capacity that, years back when reading other peoples’ descriptions of their home and hearth related sojourns, I could only marvel at.

I’m a man with a one track mind, so much to do in one life time… – I Want It All by Queen

Nowadays, Bes and I are focused on a very specific project that I’ve been working on for actually a couple of years. Every few days, I light one of my candles and I give offerings to the gods that inhabit my space so that I can achieve a goal that has been a very long time coming.

I can only hope that once this goal has finally been achieved that the three of them will be coming with me on the next new adventure for my home, for my hearth, and for my family.

 

Be Faithful in Small Things…

The first two weeks of school herald a sort of liminality between good health and illness. You always assume that someone in your household is going to end up with a head cold, or worse, but you’re never quite sure who is going to be unlucky enough to finally come down with whatever illness has been foretold by the smell of back to school sales.

My son came home a week and a half after the first day of school with the obsessive need to blow his nose every five minutes. I side eyed him and muttered about keeping his germs to himself, but it was a foregone conclusion. He was sick and it was only a matter of time before I joined him.

The scratchy feeling in the back of my throat began Friday afternoon and developed into a full head cold a few hours later. As my S.O. tried not to laugh as I ripped open a box of tissues before officially buying them so I could blow my nose as soon as possible, I knew my nice relaxing weekend had gone out the window. I was officially sick.

I spent much of Saturday mumbling in melodramatic cadence about wanting someone to cut off my head at the neck. I felt awful and no matter how faithfully I followed the prescribed DayQuil/NyQuil regimen, nothing was making me feel better. As I looked over the paraphernalia of illness, I realized something key was missing.

I had gotten the tissues and the medication. I had gotten the chapstick and my pillow. I had my stuffed animal (don’t judge) and my dog. I had shows to binge watch on Netflix and a book to pick up when I got bored with all of that, but there was something missing: the chest rub.

As a kid, it was one of the first things my mother pulled out after I came down sick. I can remember her rubbing the camphor-scented grease on my chest when I was young. I remember following the same prescription when I got older. But I hadn’t thought to grab some when we were restocking on illness ware.

I got some that night and immediately applied it. I felt better of course; good enough to eat something besides Ramen. (Don’t talk to me about soup. Ramen is as close as I’ll ever get to soup.) It was probably a psychosomatic feeling of general wellness but it was exactly what I needed to stop being so melodramatic for five minutes.

And the realization that the scent of camphor could do more than the liquid medications, the box of tissues, and even my beloved Professor who has seen me through many illnesses over the years, it got me thinking about the little things.

Maybe everything really does come back down to the little things…

As polytheists, the push of advice from any quarter can typically be summed up by the necessity of doing ritual. We read the posts of those more advanced on their path about larger rituals that they undertake for some reason or another. And in the minutiae, they mention the daily rites that they undertake for their gods, their spirits, and for their ancestors: offerings and libations, dedicated moments of prayer, etc.

We are constantly being shown that it is by the very act of ritual that we will forge the relationships we seek to make. And in turn, we will grow ever further on the paths that we have chosen for ourselves along with those relationships. We will find things that work and things that don’t, but at the very foundation of it all, it is in ritual that we should begin.

We are instructed by our elders, and those of us who have been around long enough have regurgitated the advice, to start off small with daily action and then to work ourselves up to the big. It is the same advice that we give children: baby steps with a few or many stops and starts before the child is walking. This methodology is pushed out into our communities to the neophytes who join us.

But the bond is more than simply built upon ritual. Yes, it is important, but it is not the only thing necessary.

Ritual can be considered the bricks, perhaps, that we use to build up those relationships with our gods/spirits/ancestors. However, any bricklayer can assure you that bricks are only part of the whole which is necessary to create a building. Between the bricks, they lay mortar to bind the blocks together in their efforts to tease the building into the sky.

Ritual cannot be the mortar if it is already the building blocks that we are using. There must be the binding paste that we can lay between each brick, on top of each layer, to add onto our relationships with our gods/ancestors/spirits. And it is through the small things, the tiny things that may not necessarily occur to us in the moment, that we bind the bricks and mortar together.

These small things that we use as the mortar of our relationships are inherently personal. They will never look the same between one individual and another; and they shouldn’t. They should be as individual as the relationships we are building with our ancestors/gods/spirits.

And as the weeks, months, and years pass by, we may find that some of the mortar has rotted away or perhaps been chiseled down over time. It is through yet more smaller moments that you restore the edifice to where it needs to be to continue the process you began when you started to build these relationships with your ritual building blocks and your small moments mortar.

But all of these things are just as integral as the necessity of ritual because without them, you will never get beyond the first few layers before what you have built crumbles around you.

Remember the small things

Though the story I told above about being ill may have come across as a non sequitur, I can assure you it served a two-fold purpose. The first was to give you a little background before I began to discuss mortar. The second was to give you a hint as to what some of my mortar might look like.

A tub of mentholated grease may not seem like a clearly obvious bit of binding I can use to cement my ritual blocks in place, but it is. My mother instilled in me a need for the chest rub as a child, which was in turn instilled in her by her mother who has been in the west for many years. It is through the bond I have with my mother and this family connection that I take my veneration of my grandmother out of my offerings, out of my rituals, and bring it and my love for her into my daily life.

It is through this small act – and many others – that I have forged the bond beyond what is typical, beyond what is often advised, and into the realm of the workable. It is this realm – the mix between ritual and the little things – that we must push ourselves towards if we are to succeed.

And it is these little things that will cement things more firmly in place than merely through the act of ritual.