Aset.

I have pretty much known that since my dream of Mut, other deities would be entering my life. While I couldn’t see all of the other statuary in that dream, there were too many of them for me to not realize that I had a growing kind of list of gods in my polytheistic arsenal. And honestly, I’ve been expecting a new god to come in for a while now. I’m not dumb enough to assume that I am protected by the goddess, Sekhmet, with whom I love and value above all others. The thing is that I have found myself quite comfortable, of late, in my current practice. I am full of serenity in my work with all of my OTHERS™, but I am the most pleased with the works I have been doing with my Kemetic ladies. I feel at peace and as though I’ve reached a very pleasant plateau that is fully functional. And as I’ve often said to anyone listening, our wants and desires don’t usually figure into any of this.

If you find yourself at a plateau, you can pretty much expect that shit is going to hit the fan, in some form or another.

It wouldn’t be “hard work” if stuff like that didn’t happen.

Since that dream about the Mut statue, I’ve been waiting for a push and a shove from Aset. She was particularly mentioned in that dream, as well as Mut. The exact wording was “something about having already added Aset to my slowly growing goddess collection.” So, she’s technically already been around. I’ll get to that in a minute. First, I want to admit something: in waiting for the shove from her, I’ve been bracing myself with my teeth clenched and my eyes slammed shut. I have never, once, in my entire love-of-ancient-Egypt existence wanted a relationship with her. When you talk to KO members, they mention being worried or scared of her. (I don’t really understand that, but I’m sure they have reasons.) My reasons are a lot more mundane: I’ve just never been interested in any of those associated with the Osirian mythology.

Obviously, they are important in the ancient Egyptian pantheon, but they were never a part of my Kemetic bread and butter. If you want to talk about the Memphite or Theban triads and mythologies, we’re good to go. But anything associated with Wesir and Aset – Sutekh, Anpu, Nebet-het, Heru, etc – and I’ve often been less than intrigued. I will admit that my knowledge of the Osirian mythology is based almost entirely off of things I’ve gleaned from Sutekh kids’ blogs or the basic insert tab A into slot B stuff anyone can pick up if they read a book or two about ancient Egypt. I know next to nothing about those gods because they never interested me. In this, I am a neophyte.

In a way, this worries me. I’ve become bit of a snob when it comes to Sekhmet and to some extent, Hetharu. I know a good deal more about them and their mythologies than anyone else. I’m used to being the person who people ask questions of instead of being the person who asks questions. Not to say that I won’t; I will. I’m the first person to say, “this sounds stupid but I don’t know so please tell me,” and then ask the question at hand. Case in point, just the other day, I needed clarification from Daoineile, the artist formerly known as Tiny Polytheist, about a question I had asked him regarding the fae. And I’m sure my question was stupid as well as the clarification question I asked, but I didn’t know and I don’t want to fuck shit up if I’m going to be working with the fae. So, I’ll ask questions. I’ll devour books.

Aset is here and she needs me for… something.

That’s the thing, though. I tend to figure out why the gods are in my life. I know that Sekhmet is here for other reasons. Yes, she wants me to see justice and she wants me to heal and she wants me for her very, very own, but she has PERSONAL REASONS for being in my life as well. Hetharu is here, I think, as a favor to Sekhmet but also because she was hoping to help me heal from the abuses I’ve suffered and the traumas I’ve suffered. Hekate is here because I asked her to help me with my past life and my traumas. Papa Legba is here for, well, I don’t know, but he has his own reasons as well. (I have a feeling he’s manipulating me to get something BIG but who the hell really knows with that one?) In regards to Aset, I have no idea. A part of my lack of figuring this out is because I don’t know anything about her. As far as I know, she’s the magic and mothering type. I know, literally, nothing else.

So, why is she here?

I have a few theories. I’ll toss them out so that, once I figure it out, I can laugh at how stupid I was later.

1. This could be the subtle push Hetharu has needed to leave my life. I’ve mentioned, repeatedly, that my connection with her has been… less than lately. She appreciates my efforts, but she came into my life for a very specific reason that hasn’t worked. I’ve since relegated her to a sort of formalized home pantheon. She’s the goddess of my home while Sekhmet is the goddess of my everything else. When I clean, it is for her. When I am a mother, it is for her. In a way, this has lessened my close relationship with her. And I think that she is aware that I would need a new contender for my attention in order to do what she may want, which is to fully leave. Sure, she’d still be around as part of my home pantheon and whatnot, but she wouldn’t be the lady to whom I prayed as devoutly as I do with Sekhmet.

2. She’s here to teach me about the mommy aspect. I’ve mentioned that I view Hetharu as a mother, but it is Aset, truly, who is more of a mother in the pantheon. She did a good many things on behalf of her son as well as sacrificed truly on behalf of her son. The thing is that, with my son growing older and my off-and-on working thing, I’ve often worried that I will lose out on a close relationship with my son, as I have currently. We’re very close. And I think that with her entering this phase could signify that I may need to spend more time with myself and on myself, which I don’t do, but that I can do that while also doing the mom thing. This theory isn’t quite fleshed out, but that’s as much as I can say without being given a direct feel on whether this is right or not.

3. I’ve been focusing a lot more on heka and of all the gods in the pantheon, Aset is undisputed champion of all things heka and magic. (Well, not quite. But, she’s pretty fucking good in this arena.) While my magical workings have, so far, been in league with either my voodoo leanings or Hekate, this isn’t exactly the way I want them to go. Sure, I don’t mind magic. And sure, I’d like to work more magic than I currently do. Aset would be a fantastic teacher for this. If that’s the case, then I think heka would be a large focal point from here on out. I don’t really work with heka aside from my execrations, but that’s because my rites don’t tend to be very formalized. It could be a way for things to pick up a more formal connotation than they’ve had.

That’s all I have right now. It could be all of these things; it could be none of these things. Since I don’t really know Aset, I can’t quite say.

But I do know she’s here for the long haul.

Sekhmet (PBP).

As a devotee to Sekhmet, I’ve found that one of the hardest parts about wanting to learn as much as I can about my deity is finding the information necessary to learn about her. Too often, I stumble on websites and books that tend to lump her into a category of “Eye of Re” deities. And while this is a component part to who she is as a goddess, it’s only a single layer in the numerous layers that make her up as a god. Another common problem is the fact that she tends to be assimilated into the culture of other goddesses. Too often, I find her as an aspect of Hetharu, Bast, or Mut. (There are other aspects and mash-ups that I’ve seen but those are the most common.) And lastly, another problem I tend to find is that she tends to become a smaller portion to the triad she belongs to (as Ptah-Sekhmet-Nefertem of Memphis/Inebou-Hedjou).

So, finding information about Sekhmet on the Internet can be difficult. Websites proliferate and are rife with information, but how much can be attested to via a historical source? There are few treatises that are not in foreign languages (French and German being the lingua fraças of early Egyptology) that we can look to with clear-cut results. My largest issue with this is the fact that she doesn’t seem to deserve her own “street cred,” even with the Destruction of Mankind myth under her belt, so to speak. This bothers me because (A) as a hard polytheist, I view her as her own deity and (B) because as a devotee of her, I don’t really care how her counterparts and mash-ups were viewed by ancients or even today’s worshipers. I want to know about her.

I think part of the reason finding information about her is so difficult because she is constantly surrounded by goddesses that are larger than life or who proliferated more fully in the later dynasties of ancient Egypt. As I mentioned, more often than not, we see her name linked to Mut, Hetharu, and Bast. I have called this act of syncretism as “sister-selves.” To me, this means that they are separate beings but that they can dress up in one another’s clothes, dawn appropriate accents, and generally pass as one another if the need arises. As a quick lesson: in ancient Egypt, it was pretty well-known that the imagery we would deem as portraits of the gods was only for the human benefit. It was made quite clear that in their natural forms, we had no idea what the gods looked like and that if they so desired, they could take any form they so chose. So, in doing thus, each goddess could become the other if it was warranted. (Although, one has to wonder if this ever ended up with childish games of pretending to be one another to other gods and to followers…)

In her syncretism with Hetharu, the most common form, it is understandable. In the Book of the Celestial Cow, it is shown that when Re tired of humanity, he first sent Hetharu to remove the human threat before allowing Sekhmet a chance to be his agent on earth. (And, boy, was she.) In the case of Bast and Sekhmet being paired together, it tends to be in the arena of two warriors goddesses unifying together. There are some comments about this. In some instances, scholars tend to believe that Sekhmet came from the south and so, she was a protector of Upper Egypt while Bast held dominion over Lower Egypt. Or, on the other hand, we can see both of these leonine goddesses as protectors of Lower Egypt who became conflated together around the Middle Kingdom or so. In either case, the end result appears to be the same: two warriors becoming unified in a single composite deity. In regards to the syncretism with Mut, there doesn’t appear to be a concrete path that can easily inform as to why the two of them were mixed together. It’s possible it merely stems from the two of them being Eyes of Re, but this seems too easy. Sekhmet isn’t always paired with other Eyes. So, I think the mixture between the two stems from the two goddesses being some of the older goddesses in existence. And in keeping around one (Mut, who became a very popular goddess in her own right), we continue to feel the presence of the other.

One thing I tend to fight against, repeatedly, when doing the research and going through what I can about Sekhmet is the constant belief that she is nothing but a blood-thirsty goddess. In Egyptian Mythology by Geraldine Pinch, she tends to paint the picture of a goddess who is only out to destroy and drink the blood of her children. While yes, this was a component part to the mythology surrounded by main goddess, this isn’t the entirety of who she is or even who she was. In The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt by Richard H. Wilkinson, she is represented with more of a rounded component picture: he mentions more prominently than Ms Pinch that Sekhmet also had a hand in healing and protection against pestilence. There’s also minor mention of her mix with other goddesses (one of whom I forgot to mention above being Pakhet).

On the opposite scale of these issues when researching my main goddess, I tend to find whole websites littered with commentary about her being a “mother goddess.” I think this tends to more be a miscommunication between the representation of Sekhmet-Mut and Mut herself. I’ve commented before about Mut herself, so I won’t rehash old news. But the thing is that when the two were combined to form a composite deity, it appeared that the ancient Egyptians were more about giving Mut a protective side than about giving Sekhmet a kinder side. The protection of a mother, especially a major mother goddess like Mut, would have been best linked with a warrior goddess, such as Sekhmet.

Aside from her blood thirst and her ability to bring pestilence, and besides the fact that she could heal, Sekhmet also stood for justice. In the New Kingdom she usurped Sutekh’s role of standing in the solar barque to protect Re against his enemies each night. And the ancient Egyptian pharaohs harped on her as a protective goddess, as well, especially when it comes to war outside of their country. (Let’s not forget that the ancient Egyptians felt that isfet was almost analogous with foreigners, part and parcel to Sutekh’s later demonization.)

I’ve often said it and I’ll repeat myself again, when it comes to working with gods and goddesses that have a “darker” aspect to their mythos, it’s best if we try to crack through the layers and layers of mythological propaganda. I’m not saying this because I want people to constantly stick their nose in a book – although that would be awesome – but because I think it’s very important to remember that with each new cycle of a dynasty, a god or goddess of ancient Egypt could change. They could be usurped into a larger figure or they could be mixed with others. This is never more commonly prevalent than in watching the mythology and belief surrounding Sutekh carry from a chaotic deity who slays Apep nightly to the devil version we can see as quite popular in Greco-Roman times.

Each god has layers and it’s our job, as their followers, to peel back those layers to know, truly, who it is we are devoted to.

Recon Versus UPG: A Small Guide for Newbies And Solitaries. (PBP).

So, I asked a question regarding a common practice in KO households that has kind of turned into a debate regarding UPG versus recon practices, specifically the information gathering from public sources that could have both UPG and recon/ancient sources. Maybe debate is too hot-headed of a word, though. It’s more along the lines of an opening up of eyes from a solitary’s perspective (mine) and, hopefully, from a KO perspective (theirs). How I go about things and how they go about things are entirely different. Then again, this isn’t so surprising. They have the background of a solidified religion and temple aiding them while I’m floundering around in my little boat of reeds, looking not just for outsiders’ perspectives (because the differences can be so neat) but also a solid foundation, preferably based on some ancient source.

Now, the basis of this experience in my little Kemetic misfits group centers around the wiki page of KO creation: Wepwawet Wiki. This is a source of information, which seems to be a haven for KO info gatherers. And now, I came to this page prior to knowing as much about KO as I do now. I didn’t use it heavily but I did think the offerings listed, like stones, were pretty nifty. At that point, I was less interested in recon so things that were a little less than historically accurate (such as soda or potato chips) weren’t so unappetizing as they can be for me now. But the ‘debate’ is at my recommendation that UPG based info (such as modern-day foods the ancients did not have) be marked in some way. I mentioned that solitaries, such as myself, may prefer the distinction based on their preference in practice, in affect UPG versus recon.

As a website that pops up in Google searches, there may be people who take it literally (I know of at least one person who has admitted to such) and I know that I fell into that prior to learning more about its inception. But all of this got me thinking about how important sources are and how it is important for those sources to be very clear and very specific about where the information comes from. Is this something that is unverified and personal gnosis, shared and personal gnosis, stems from an Egyptological tome, or is found in ancient sources discussed in an Egyptological tome? These are all aspects that we need to take into consideration because it could make or break a personal practice for solitaries. (I’m sorry, but since I am a solitary and I know quite a few Kemetic solitaries out there, while I appreciate the fact that there are groups of Kemetic Wiccans and other temples out there, this is primarily for people in similar straits as myself.) It could be the very foundation! And how would a solitary feel, discussing this stuff with someone else with like mind, only to learn that their foundation is based on someone else’s UPG?

I would personally be both horrified (because technically, aren’t I stealing?) and disappointed (because seriously, how difficult is it to claim that the information is UPG?) and vastly upset (because everything I had started was based on a lie). And I have to assume that other solitaries in my shoes would feel similarly.

So, let’s get this ball rolling…

I am a huge proponent in telling you to do some research when you start deciding you want to go Kemetic. This isn’t because I’m a bitch and I don’t want to help, but mostly due to the fact that I will not do others’ work for them but also because what I take away from a certain text may not exactly be what you take away from a certain text. I also say this because I feel (and some others like me) that in trying to get to know a new pantheon, a new religion, and a new OTHER™ the best way to go about doing this is to go to the ancient sources.

How we view a deity in today’s terms, such as Sutekh being the equivalent of the Kemetic devil or Loki in similar guise, is probably not how they were viewed in the ancient civilization and myths. While I can’t do much more than comment that it is possible, based on Sutekh’s history, that Loki is misrepresented, I can clearly say (and have) that Sutekh’s current iffy status in Kemetic practices is partially due to the vilification his appearance went through over the centuries. So, in said case with Sutekh, the older the mythos and cult status, the better off you may be in getting a full picture instead of just a slice of the picture. In other words, you could navigate across the globe with a full map of the world instead of just sticking to a map of the waterways around the Mediterranean Sea.

When you start doing research, I’m not telling you that you have to go into this with the end result being a thesis based on the pantheon, the culture, and/or the myths. What I am saying is that the more research, the better off you are. The biggest issue I tend to have when it comes to my personal practice is that there are next to no sources about how the little man, the standard ancient Egyptian John Doe, would have practiced the religion. There are, however, books, tomes, websites, and papyrus dedicated to how the clergy performed their practices. And it is on this, for the most part, that most recons are going to base their practices off of. All you have to do is start looking and take a note of the sources on the website you end up on.

Now, that’s something that you need to pay attention to: the sources. If a website has citations for their sources, you can almost entirely assume that they did at least some of the research and are telling you where else to look. Websites without such citations need to be taken with a large grain of salt. In the above case of WW Wiki, there are absolutely no sources listed whatsoever. Based on this and this alone, I am going to have to assume that most of the things listed here are based off of either unverified personal gnosis or shared personal gnosis. (The difference being that one person claims X happens with no one else claiming that this is true or multiple people claim X happens.)

This is the case in KO when they claim that you cannot offer Sutekh cool water. This is based off of something that happened in their temple or during a ceremony at some point or another and has since become the standard practice (shared personal gnosis). This is also considered, by me, to be similar to those people who claim that you should not give blood as an offering to Sekhmet: this based on their UPG. I read somewhere, I believe it was a Wiccan website actually, that she had come to a priestess or something and said that doing this was a big no-no. She has never come to me with this so I have to assume that since she enjoys my blood donations that this is UPG being claimed as “the norm.”

Now, am I claiming that UPG is an inferior way to begin working with the OTHERS™? No. I am not that kind of person. I do not believe that there is any one right way to doing all of this religion stuff. While I may scoff at someone else’s UPG in regards to how it may or may not (usually not) effect my practice that doesn’t mean I think I’m doing it any better than the person who is claiming the UPG is accurate and true. The only issue I have then is the fact that they want to make it a standard practice. In regards to the cool water offering, how in the world does that make sense? I mean, water is the basis of all life and was one of the most sacred things to give to gods in ancient Egypt, it being surrounded by a desert and dependent upon the life-giving nutrients of the Nile. (That’s pretty much the totality of why I have an issue with this cool water business.) Again, while I believe that everyone can practice however they see fit in their own way, I don’t think we should claim it as an absolute.

To each their own and all of that.

But what if you’re so new to all of this and you don’t know what you want to practice? What happens if you look at others’ blogs and posts in public fora that demonstrate how very time-consuming and occasionally head-desk a recon path can be? And that turns you off? What about all of that? Isn’t it okay to use UPG then?

The thing is that even if you aren’t sure what kind of practice you want to follow, whether it ends up as eclectic or as far from Kemetism as possible or deep in the recon thick of things, you should still do some research. This kind of goes with cultural appropriation (which I’ve discussed and won’t get back into). The thing is that some people read about a practice, think it’s neat, and usurp it for their own purposes. This was, also, common in ancient cultures as well, as clearly shown in the fact that the Egyptian pantheon picked up a few Semitic deities. However, if you just read about doing X and you don’t understand why you’re doing it, something is getting lost. Also, it would help you in future in doing the research because, at some point, someone may accuse you of cultural appropriation, which tends to base the argument that you saw something shiny and decided to add it to your practice. By, at least demonstrating where the practice came from, you could, quite possibly, make your life a little less dramatic in future. Also, in knowing where the practice comes from and how it came to be, you’ll enter a level of appreciation you may not have if you just see it and decide to use it.

Again, I’m not saying that using UPG is “wrong.” While I may point fingers when it comes to my son not picking up his toys, I don’t do that in others’ practices. Some of the parts of my practice are UPG. For example, I can’t tell you where the sudden urge to pick up a cardinal (bird) statue for Hekate came from, but I just had to do it. I’ve found the correlation after I did some research on the symbolism of the bird and whatnot, but I doubt this is something we can consider as widespread belief forms in the relationships and practices of others with Hekate. I can’t tell you if she likes stars or not, but her altar is filled with stars. Not the pentacle or pentagram, but just regular old stars. I consider that UPG, in my practice.

I think each practice should have a basis even just a basic precursor of research. If UPG comes up while you’re working with an OTHER™, then use it. They’re telling you to do it for a reason or you feel like it will make your life easier. (Such as my using Tarot and Oracle decks to communicate with my OTHERS™, I doubt that is historically accurate…) But I still think that in doing research not only will it help you to understand and feel more well-rounded in your practice, but you could surprise yourself be finding that what you thought was UPG was actually something they practiced way back when.

The last thing I want to touch upon is the mistaken belief of some people that newbies should “easily” be able to tell the difference between UPG sources and ancient sources. The statement I’m referring to, I felt, was a little over-the-top and kind of bitchy. I’m not going to represent that statement here, but in effect, the person made a remark that everyone should “be able to use basic intelligence” to differentiate between what is UPG and what is an ancient source. The problem here is that with some aspects, yes it will be very easy. We all know that the ancient world did not have diet Coke, Sun chips, and Red Bull. We can pretty much decide based on what is obvious – such as mordern day comestibles and technology – what is and is not UPG.

However, of course there was a but in there, the thing is that not everything is so obvious. The cool water example I keep using in regards to Sutekh. The blood offering example I keep using in regards to Sekhmet. These are aspects that are UPG but can be easily misconstrued as stemming from ancient sources, especially for people who are new, uncertain, and don’t know where to begin. So, while I can definitely say that using common sense is key when researching via the Internet and blog posts, if you are ever uncertain or are just curious, then ASK SOMEONE.

There are no stupid questions. Remember that when you embark down this path: there will be a lot of questions, but none of them are stupid.

Recon Ranting Ahead!

Today, I started having a very interesting topic of conversation with two other recon-oriented Kemetics that I commune with on a daily basis. The topic began when WB asked Devo about a specific book regarding Wesir. The book in question is not important, the subsequent discussion was. What came about was a moment in time that Devo wanted more information on Wesir, and not just the standard “Sutekh killed him and he was the god of the dead and he fathered Heru because Aset was super awesome with her magix” shit that most Kemetics here on an almost daily basis. She wanted information about the cult and the history and all of that fun and exciting stuff that we’re not going to pick up because we’ve read the mythos a thousand and ten times. She wanted to peel back the layers of the god that we see today – an oversimplified example being that he hates Sutekh because his brother slaughtered him – and see him as he was prior to this.

And someone actually replied to her that she should look to Plutarch.

Now, as any good Kemetic knows, you need to take Plutarch with a grain of sand or not at all. In my practice, Plutarch has absolutely no bearing whatsoever. I have a few reasons and I’ll list them. First of all, I tend to find him as a Greek propagandist. If I wanted the Greek version of everything, I would be Graeco-Egyptian in my practice and not a full-fledged Kemetic. Secondly, his stuff is fucking boring as hell. If I refuse to read Shakespeare and Shelley and Tolkien because I find them boring, why in the world would I make an exception just because someone wrote their boring drivel years and years before those people? And lastly, I am not going to buy a book that was written in the Roman era of ancient Egypt. Again, if I wanted that kind of watered down mythos, I would be a Romanic Egyptian in practice instead of a Kemetic.

There’s something that most people who pretend to be recon and actually aren’t don’t seem to understand: those of us who are recon-oriented in our practice tend to choose from a specific time frame and work our paths from that. I know, I know. That’s probably pretty crazy, right? Why take something from a time frame when all of the information is available in later time periods as well? And maybe those time periods have more information than some of the older ones that we may choose to work from. The thing is that the later time periods’ information is probably pretty watered down. Let’s go with an example from Kemetic practices.

Sutekh. He is the biggest and best example a Kemetic can show in all of the changes to mythology. At first, we have Sutekh as a necessary and loved god. He had a cult center; he had people who went to him. He had an entire kingdom all to himself before the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt happened. After that, he gets a little shunted to the side. No big deal; he’s still pretty important. He makes sure Re can get past Ap*p every night. Then, we go through changes in socio-political, specifically the changing of various religious and politic capitals in ancient Egyptian history, and Sutekh gets shunted some more. But it’s still not a huge deal… until the Second Intermediate Period when the Hyksos came down, overtook the entire country, forcing the kings to pay them homage as supreme awesome bitch-slappers, and start worshiping Sutekh as the greatest god ever. After that, when we hit the 18th Dynasty, we start seeing more and more that Sutekh is considered an “evil” god. This probably had more to do with the fact that foreigners had come in and ruled the country while worshiping this god of chaos and the desert. (Any Kemetic worth their salt knows just how much the ancient Egyptians hated foreigners.) And things kind of just went downhill from there for Sutekh until we have how evil he is in what he did to his brother and his nephew and no one should ever give him lettuce as an offering and we should all be careful in working with him because, HE IS THE EGYPTIAN DEVIL.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: gods have facets. They change; they grow; they learn; they repent; they forgive. If we only look to this super selective aspect to a god, such as Sekhmet’s blood lusting and war faring capabilities, then we are doing her other portions a complete injustice. She is also the goddess of healing. She is also the goddess of protecting the pharaohs. These are all aspects, or facets, of who she is that other people forget when they see her as a “wrathful goddess.” And the same can be said of Sutekh and Wesir, Hetharu and Heru, Re and Amun, Wepwawet and Djehuti. All of these gods have specific arenas that they are well-known for, but they have other portions as well. And people forget that. And I honestly believe that part of the reason that people forget this kind of thing because they only take the most watered down and newest versions of the cult centers and the myths, things written by the likes of Plutarch for example, and forget that ancient Egyptian history spans three thousand years.

Three. Thousand. Years. Of. Information. And people just want to take the newest portions they can?

This is me, shaking my finger and shaking my head.

Mut (PBP).

Note: For those waiting on my next hilarious romp in Kemetism: World’s Greatest Religion!, it will post this afternoon.

The goddess, Mut, is only a very recent addition to my goddess repertoire. She’s the most recent goddess to reveal that she is in my life. (I do not consider Hekate in this sense since it I who approached her where as with Mut, she very definitely approached me. The link to that entry is below.) I’ve always had a brief love affair with Mut in a fictional way. When Michelle Moran came out with her critically acclaimed historical fiction novel, Nefertiti, she made the goddess Mut a fairly important part of the story as a whole. Since the book is written from the perspective of the theorized sister of Nefertiti, Mutnodjomet, this is part and parcel to why the goddess has a higher place in the novel than say, Sekhmet. And even though the novel, itself, is a fictionalized accounting of what may have happened to Nefertiti and her theorized sister, the aspects of Mut in the book – the pictures, the prayers, the offerings, etc. – always kind of stuck with me. So, when Mut showed up in dream form, I really wasn’t all that surprised. I’d been kind of waiting for it since I had been mentally flirting with her for, you know, however long it’s been since that book has come out. (And I read it about five times a year. I’m not even lying.)

When I first dreamed about Mut, I saw her as a wooden statue that I held in my hand. She had Photobucket the head of a cat but the body was like a single piece. There were distinctive markings to signify her arms and her hands. There were also vague markings for breasts on the piece in question. The rest of the body, however, was like a peg: no legs, but a singular piece. I couldn’t quite figure out what this part of the dream was trying to tell me. Why was she like a piece of the Jackals and Hounds board game? Why was she made of wood when the rest of the goddesses in the dreams were made of gilt? It was mysterious and as I don’t dream of gods on a regular basis, something I pondered a lot. It was Cam who ventured the guess that because she is such an older goddess – primordial, even – that signified the aged look for the wooden representation in my hands. And something clicked.

Mut is one of the oldest goddesses. When looking into her, the word that signifies her name – spelled mwt – has two meanings. On the one hand, when you look at the glyphs for her name, you Photobucket see her as the vulture. To the ancient Egyptians, the vultures were very motherly, which ties into the second aspect of the meaning behind her name. (The ancient Egyptians thought all vultures were females because there are no distinctive markings to differentiate between male and female.) The other meaning of her name is, specifically, mother. (When I pronounce her name as “mother” I change up the pronunciation from Moot to mm-ow-at.) And it is this particular aspect that we see that hearkens back to the Ogdoad of Hermopolis/Khmun, for it was the original consort of Amun that Mut seems to have usurped around the Middle Kingdom or so. However, the primary association of Mut seems to have begun with the female version of Nun of the Ogdoad. As Nun was the father of the gods, so his wife was the mawat (or mother) of the gods. In this association, Mut is seen as old as creation itself. Later, as Mut usurped the role of the feminine Amun (Amunet), it seemed to reinforce her ancient beginnings.

While I do try to do the research about the gods that come to me and work with me, as well as the ones that I turn to, I don’t always pay close attention when I’m first getting to know them. This is the case with Mut. So, I can spit out facts for you (which is what I had initially intended for this entry, honestly, but something keeps making it harder and harder for me to spit it out, so…), but what I would prefer to do is explore my interpretations of this most ancient of mothers in my life.

When she first came to me, it was prior to a pretty crappy time in my life. I have crappy times on a semi-regular basis since I have begun working on various aspects of myself that I find unfavorable or that are holding me back. However, it was a time when I would have instinctively turned to my mother, to cry in her arms, and wanted to feel snuggled. I don’t legitimately have that option since my mother lives on the other side of the country. My “snuggles” with my biological mother come in weekly telephone calls. It’s a piss poor filler for what I need. Even though I am twenty-nine years old, there are just some times when you need your mother. You need to feel her arms around you. You need to hear her tell you that you are not a fuck up, that you do not suck, that you make mistakes but you learn from them, etc. Again, I don’t have that option. And I think it was with the foreknowledge of all of the stuff that would end up happening sooner as opposed to later, coupled with the foreknowledge that I would begin a lot of shadow work to forgive myself, my faults, as well as the mistakes others have done to me… that’s when she came a-knocking.

She speaks to me in the connection of a mother figure… but not as one mother to another. It is as though I am her daughter and she comes to me when I need it the most. Case in point, when I was having issues with an angry Deadz. I had no idea what to do and it was with the help of my friends that I got through it. (Honest to the gods. I had no idea what to do with such an angry [dead] person affecting me so much.) But it was in the thinking of mawat and, in effect, summoning her to me that I began to feel better. It was a relief to be able to sag my shoulders, knowing that someone else was there to help me deal with it.

At first, as I was trying to write this entry hours ago, I found this part of the revelation difficult to swallow. Whenever I’ve considered my spiritual mother, I’ve thought of Sekhmet. (The S entries are coming up and my theories about her particular spot in that role will be discussed, at length, so keep being patient.) But as I sit here and think about Mut as my spiritual mother, the difficulty Photobucket passes quickly. It’s not that it isn’t a tough pill to swallow and it’s not that it doesn’t put my previous beliefs in a shambles because… well, it does. But the thing is that while I have a difficult time contending with so much syncretism in ancient Egyptian practices, this particular issue is not so difficult when it comes to Sekhmet and Mut. I’m not quite sure why: the two, to me, are polar opposites. Sekhmet is feisty and Mut is just… not. But for some reason, considering my spiritual mother in the aspect of Mut, I realize that there are just some things about Sekhmet that make it difficult for her to fulfill that role.

And Mut does not find that particular aspect hard, at all.

One of the other aspects in her mysterious entry into my life appears to have to do with an astral aspect to myself that I never thought I would ever, ever explore. I’ve never been… even remotely aware of myself on a plane of existence aside from this one. It’s not for lack of trying or desire, but I always figured that the astral self were only achieved via meditation, centering, and all of the things that I find difficult to do. Not very long after my dream about Mut, I re-entered the room from that dream. (Links below.) It was during a sort of quasi-outside of myself feel. I had to get confirmation from outside sources that I was, apparently without trying or particularly wanting to, traveling to an astral realm of some sort. Since the room from that little adventure, that I have sadly been unable to duplicate, was the same room that I entered when I dreamed of Mut, I knew that she was supposed to be a guide for me of sorts.

I’m not sure what that particular aspect to her role in my life is about, but it seems to go hand-in-hand with a lot of work that I’m doing on myself. Maybe in the work I’m doing in this realm, later, I’ll be forced to do it in an astral or spiritual realm? One is left wondering…

I’m grateful she’s entered my life, all unknown things considering. Without her, I often wonder if I’d be able to get through things. I have guides and gods that are willing to show me all the different ways I can end up, but there’s something nice and special knowing that, at least one of them, is more like a mother than anything else…

Relevant Posts

  1. Dreaming Ties All Mankind Together.
  2. The Continuing Adventures of the Angry Deadz.
  3. Living the Surreal Life.
  4. Everywhere the Glint of Gold…

Image Credits
1. Jackals and Hounds piece; from Egypt Search.
2. Mut hieroglyphs; from AE Online.
3. Bust of Mut; from AE Online.

Give Thine Ear, And Hear What I Say.

For at least the last week–but probably much longer–Sekhmet has been poking and prodding me in the direction of Hwt-Hrw. Periodically, I’ll hear her say something like, “You should look into Hwt-Hrw. She’s another aspect of myself and it’s time for you to venture outside of your comfort zone.” And I have pretty much told her that I’m not interested. However, in the mean time, I’ve found myself drawn to cows (I don’t know and I don’t understand, either). I’ve looked up menat necklaces numerous times because I always wanted one, but then I realized that it was a symbol of Hwt-Hrw. Various things that I’ve been reading about recently has pretty much all lead in her direction. So, the conversations have continued…

“You should look into her. It would be good for you.”
“I’m not a sexual being, Sekhmet. It wouldn’t work out properly.”
Exaggerated eye roll and sigh of disgust. “Just as I am not always the angry, destroy-humanity deity that people see me as, nor is she a sex fiend.”
“It wouldn’t work out and I’m not interested.”
“You’ll do what’s good for you and this is good for you.”
“Oh, and where am I supposed to put her shrine? Are you willing to share that box of an altar?” I get threatening when I get upset.
“Hell, no. But you better figure it out because you can’t deny it anymore: You’ve been thwapped again.”

And how many deities can honestly admit that they would help with a new thwap? I can safely say that I have never heard a single deity do this before. I’ve heard of them pulling away and ignoring their child so that a new god/dess can take over the tutelage. I’ve heard of that plenty of times, but I don’t think that I have ever heard of a god saying, “You’ve been thwapped. Get over it and start paying attention.”

So, with a heaving sigh, I have to admit that I know nearly nothing about the goddess in question. Sure, I have a passing familiarity with her mythos because, after all, the Destruction of Mankind is about her, to an extent. I know that she is represented as a woman with cow horns with a sun disk between them, as a woman with cow’s ears, and that she is a sexual creature. In personality, I have a sneaking suspicion that Hwt-Hrw is my anti-thesis. I’m so much more alike with Sekhmet than with, gulp, Hwt-Hrw.

You can’t ignore a thwap. I know that.

I have tried for quite some time now.

At first, you know, it was easy to ignore. I could say, “Oh, isn’t that interesting? A menat necklace is the domain of Hwt-Hrw.” And then, I bought an historical fiction novel whose main character went to stay in the temple of Hwt-Hrw. Of course, I said, “Oh, that’s pretty neat.” And I enjoyed the way that the high priestess of the Hwt-Hrw cult was portrayed–elegant and beautiful, kind and loving. And of course, there was the all pervasive, well, Sekhmet and Hwt-Hrw are pretty much the same coin, although one is the tails side and the other is the head side. But, anyway, things kept coming up that were all directly pointed at Hwt-Hrw. And of course, I said, “What a coincidence.”

Now, all I hear is Sekhmet in my brain going, “Why are you being a stubborn little tick?”

Honestly, I know what Hwt-Hrw is coming around for. She wants me to be more comfortable with my sexuality, at least that is a very large part. However, I don’t think that a simple goddess (may she forgive me) can come in and just say, “Poof. You’re better.” And leave it at that. I’m not a sexual being–just as my natal chart! But, that’s a major mission of hers. It’s like a personal fucking affront that I’m not into the whole sex and sensuality and blah, blah, blah.

May I be forgiven for my snark. Mutter-mutter.

Nope. I can’t look into Aset. Nekhbet and Wadjet are out. I can just about forget about Bast–Sekhmet gave me an offended snort when I suggest her in lieu of Hwt-Hrw. Nebt-Het, Neith, and Nut, Tefnut and Tawaret. Nope. No. I have suggested all of these other goddesses in the hopes that Sekhmet would say, “All right. All right. This path is hard for you. We’ll start with stepping stones with this netjeret right here and work our way up to the big guns.” Of course, I should know better by now than to expect Sekhmet to be forgiving in that arena. She is pretty much a “do this because I said so and no back talk” kind of deity.

I’m pretty lucky that she found me and beat the crap out of me to get me to realize what I needed.

I guess I’m off to do some Hwt-Hrw research.

Listening Benefits the Listener.

I have been feeling a little lost, a little overwhelmed, lately. I don’t know if it is simply because I want to be grandiose and I cannot afford to be or if it simply a lost and adrift feeling that comes on occasion.

Yesterday, I forgot to do my morning ritual and today, things did not go well. I would like to think that it is merely coincidental and that Sekhmet would not be so cruel to someone who wishes only to hear her words, to feel her tenderness, and to know her in all ways. However, I do know that she can be quite vengeful and I have done quite enough to her in recent months. I don’t know if the things are one in the same or if I am imagining things. I only know that I feel sad and uprooted, overwhelmed and lost. I just want someone to make it okay.

I know that there are a lot of things that I say that I am going to do and yet haven’t. I said that I would make natron. I said that I would make some naan bread for netjer. I said that I would worship her faithfully every day and while I have [mostly] done that, I have failed at least one time. I have not made natron for purification purposes. I have not purified myself as Reidy mentions in his book in the morning bath, as I so desired. I have not done a lot of the things that I want to.

I don’t know if my lack of energy for this is because I don’t know if I’m doing things properly, if I feel that I don’t have the necessary things for said rituals, or if it is a biological agent that is tearing me down. I worry constantly about this: it niggles the back of my brain. Perhaps I am just not cut out for all of this. Perhaps I should go back to being an eclectic fool who bounces from area to area and knows that what she says is the Word to Follow because that is all that she needs.

No. I know that this is the path for me. I know what I need and what I desire to do. I know where to go from here, but I feel stunted. I feel like I’m being held back. Perhaps some other patron is demanding my attention and my ignorance of his/her hand in my life is causing all of this ruckus? Someone mentioned that Sutekh is a bit of a prankster in daily life when he wants your attention…

I just don’t know anymore and I feel like there are not enough lamentations in the world to unburden my heart.

For Every Joy, There is a Price to be Paid.

I used the word “thwap” in my previous entry. This is not a real word in the sense that you can find it in a dictionary, but this is the word that is used by pagans to denote that a deity has asked for their service. Servitude isn’t like serfdom or slavery; a deity has merely asked for your attention. The attention could be for the long-term, short-term, or could be for a specific task. It is entirely up to the deity in question, but from what I’ve seen and heard from other pagans, primarily, deities are asking for a short-term servitude or a long haul.

I have been officially thwapped by two deities, Ma’at and Sekhmet. Seshat is a patron deity but not for thwapping reasons: I’ll get into that later.

Sekhmet was the original warrior goddess of ancient Egypt. She is commonly depicted as a lioness or a woman with a lioness’s head upon her shoulders. She is always seen wearing the solar disk with uraeus upon her head. She has always been seen as a protector of pharaoh. Her cult centers were in Leontopolis (also known as, Taremu) and Memphis (also known as, Men-Nefer). Sekhmet is often associated with healing, medicine, and disease. Her priests were the precursor to doctors. She was an Eye of Ra and she was charged with the protection of keeping everything in Ma’at (in line, more or less). Her body was represented as the hot, mid-day sun and it was contested that she had created the desert and her hot breath was the desert wind.

It is this deity who first entered my life. She came into my life around the same time that I grew intrigued with ancient Egyptian myths. She was already trying to get my attention, but one doesn’t always pay attention when they’re so young. So, for years, I ignored the calling until I was about nineteen or so. I had a story idea in my mind that Sekhmet played prominently. I was also, at this point, doing a good deal of research about ancient Egypt due to my obsession with The Renegade Pharaoh. When I learned that his father also had a bit of obsession with Sekhmet, having made hundreds of statues in her honor, I immediately fell back into researching the Lady of Enchantments, Sekhmet.

It was like a window or a door had opened and the sunlight was finally streaming in. For years, I had toyed with this goddess and she grew annoyed. Her growls and roars were in my head, but I wasn’t receptive to them. I didn’t understand the affinity between the goddess and myself. I mean, why in the world would a supreme being such as Sekhmet feel the need to take an interest in me? Later, she told me that there was something in my personality that she found reminiscent of herself. Though destruction is just as easily done at my hands as it is in hers, so can healing be wrought. This is something that has taken me a long time to learn, but I have finally learned that lesson.

Ma’at is the very personification of cosmic harmony. She is often represented as a woman with an ostrich feather in her hair, a woman whose head is an ostrich feather, or merely an ostrich feather. Ma’at was worshiped all throughout the kingdom of ancient Egypt, as it was through her that all things achieved an ordered balance. Without prayers to the goddess, then things fell into Chaos and soon, the unCreation of the world would happen. So, in reality, the worship of Ma’at was merely the worship of the concept of divine order. Any priests in the name of Ma’at were thought to be judges. However, as a divine power, she also carries the same weight in my life as Sekhmet does.

So, this other deity came a-knocking around the same time as I had my “ah-ha!” moment with Sekhmet. She had been watching me waste my life and move further and further out of Ma’at for years. No one wants to admit that they were busy wasting their life, but I was doing a pretty good job. I had fallen so far off of the course that it’s amazing that Ma’at even made the effort. However, I honestly think it was kind of a help for Sekhmet: Though I was beloved of Sekhmet, I was not living in Ma’at and with the power that flows through me, I could destroy a good deal of her hard word. It is through her that I hope to achieve a certain balance with my life. It is through her that I hope to be good enough, in my own eyes, to be able to move into the Western Lands when my life finally comes to an end.

When I say that these two deities have thwapped me, I mean that they have asked me to come into their service. What does that mean, exactly?

In the name of Sekhmet, I out-and-out worship her as the ancient Egyptians did, or at least to the best of my abilities. I give her offerings; I make prayers to her; I have visions of her; I speak with her; and I am secure in the knowledge that I have her love. One day, I hope to have a statue of her in my house so that I can make offerings to her on a regular basis, instead of only on the feast days of Sekhmet.

In the name of Ma’at, I merely listen to her advice. My service to her is merely as an apprentice on the long road of life. She is leading me back into the way that I should have been going from the beginning. To hear her speak is merely to have a mother counsel me thoroughly on the consequences of my actions. One day, I hope to have a statue of her in my home, as well, but for different reasons. I only wish to place it in a place of reverence so I can be eternally reminded that I have a mother-figure in the form of that which is Ma’at.

These two deities have called me into their service.
And I go, gladly.