Festival of Wag 2013.

I received a notification on Thursday that I was looking at a two-day festival for the akhu and I had no clue. My feelings regarding this were two-fold: on the one hand, I was really excited to start digging into various rites and services from the layman perspective but I was also terrified because I had a festival to prepare for with barely a day’s notice. (This is actually why I really need a desk calendar or something that I have hanging on my wall because before I know it, something like this happens and I’m just like, “Shit.” This happens to me a lot by the way.) So, instead of running around like a crazy person on the start of the festival, I decided to put off doing anything until Saturday.

Throughout the quiet moments on Friday, of which there were many that night, I tried to think of what I could do that would be something common in ancient Egypt. There really isn’t a lot of akhu related items from the poor man’s perspective. We see all of these really fantastic tombs for the kings and their families, the priests and their families, and for the nobleman and their families. While there are graves for people who did not belong to any of the above three buckets in ancient Egyptian society, we have very little to nothing relating to how they went about celebrating their dead. Did they have a shrine in their home? Did they go to their graves? Did they leave offerings for them? Or did they just assume that all of the stuff the priests were doing was enough for them? Unfortunately, John Doe-hotep hasn’t come out of the wood work to explain to me what he wanted for his family or for his soul. Hell, maybe they weren’t even transfigured like all the rich people were and they’re just roaming around the Duat, right now, wondering what the next step is.

The problem here is that I don’t know and chances are, I’ll never know.

I was getting pretty desperate for ideas, so I ended up moseying on over to Wepwawet Wiki. This is a Kemetic Orthodox specific site, which is rife with UPG. I don’t necessarily dislike it, but I do not recommend it as a source unless that person is KO. Nothing against one of the largest established Kemetic orders out there, but I don’t want newbies who are interested in a solitary path, like me, to get caught up in others’ unverified personal gnosis in their path. They could end up with a bastardized version of Kemetic Orthodoxy and it could cause problems for those solitary neophytes later.

According to the KO site, there was a lot of offerings left (pretty obvious) and the priests did a bunch of stuff. And that’s pretty okay. I could definitely see that as being a major part to the celebration.

Back then, the priests were the go-to guys for all such things. In this day and age, however, we don’t have the same time of need for an established priesthood as there was back then. We are all literate. We are all fully capable of providing for ourselves. We are no longer living in a society where the be-all, end-all was a human-turned-god on the throne and the myriad of priests who maintained ma’at through daily ritual. We emulate this in many cases with our daily rites and offerings on an individual basis, so I honestly don’t think an established priesthood is overly necessary nowadays. However, I also don’t want to emulate things that are obvious bastions of an ancient priesthood. I’m not here as a priest; I’m here as the laity, damn it.

The KO site offered a few suggestions for the modern practitioner,

  • Visits to local cemeteries, cleaning the tombs, and making offerings to the deceased
  • Sharing a picnic in the cemetery with friends, family, and Akhu
  • Folding paper boats and re-enacting the ancient tradition

I thought about all of those suggestions and ended up tossing them over my shoulder. I go to local cemeteries to do my grave-tending every Saturday. And since the weather is finally changing away from the oppressive snit it has been in this summer, I will be dedicating every Saturday until winter hits to doing just that. Besides, I attempt to visit my genetic akhu on birth and death days. I didn’t want to do something that I always do to honor the celebration. The second suggestion actually kind of creeps me out, which is hilarious. I spend hours at a time in cemeteries, taking pictures and talking to all of the akhu within, but having a picnic inside of one bothers me? I actually think it’s more of a situation where it would seem disrespectful, to me, to eat in front of souls who can’t eat like I do anymore thing, but it’s still a little weird to me. And lastly, the paper boats thing hearkens back to what the priests did and again, I don’t want to encroach on an area that my practice isn’t willing or ready to go in.

So, what the hell does a layperson do on a holiday to celebrate their akhu?

I gave serious consideration into pulling out my copy of The Pyramid Texts and The Book of the Dead as translated by R.O. Faulkner and going to town. However, this nagged at me. The idea of saying words from ancient Egypt are very well and good, but again, this may not have been something common to the very peoples’ practice I am trying to emulate. Later generations were more than capable of finding a copy of the BotD for their own use, but I’m not really a “later period” kind of recon. As I grow further and further into this recon-slanted/historically informed area of my practice, I’ve come to realize that a lot of the stuff I’m looking for are from the Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom. The New Kingdom, for me, is great to study and read about the various pharaohs, but it’s really the older religious practices that interest me (right now, at least). So, I had to think that, maybe, reading some words on a page wasn’t the best idea.

So, again, what to do?

I went back to the basics. I sat down last night, in between doing various chore like items, and asked myself what the point in this celebration was about. To some extent, the celebration is about me and my intense desire to connect with my akhu. While, obviously, the main focal point is the akhu and all things related, it isn’t just about them. We don’t go to graves, go to funerals, tell stories just to keep the memory of our akhu alive, but also to give us closure and to keep them with us and our future generations. So, while this is definitely something that they need, it’s also something that I need. So, if that was the case, what would I want to do to make me feel better?

That is my kitchen table. It's boring, right? Shit. Yeah, probably. But it was nice!

That is my kitchen table. It’s boring, right? Shit. Yeah, probably. But it was nice!

I put a nice little buffet style spread on my kitchen table. I bought a nice dozen roses that were on sale and a small bunch of various white flowers to offset all the red. I brought the candle that sits on my mini-shrine to Anup over as the kind of center piece. Since I burn this candle every Saturday (or try to) when I can’t get out to go grave-tending to honor my akhu, it was practically mandatory. I offered water, soda, and a shot of vodka. I don’t normally offer alcoholic beverages when it comes to my akhu celebrations since many of my family members tended toward alcoholism, but thought it couldn’t hurt too badly. It’s also a slight nod to Bawon (as we are out of rum) because he was a little miffed he was being left out of a celebration for the realm he governs. I set out freshly baked bread (purchased, not baked). I then sliced up a pepper and an apple to leave out, as well as adding a bowl of blueberries and a bowl of baby carrots. I added some of the organic ginger snaps I had purchased for Wep Ronpet this year and some chocolates I had laying around.

Over all, I have to admit that I’m fairly pleased with how this little shindig turned out.

I didn’t want anything flashy and over-the-top. I rarely do anyway, but with my renewed commitment to this whole laity thing, it would seem as kind of a slap in the face to go in that direction. It was simple and moving. When the candle was lit, while I couldn’t see or necessarily feel the akhu feasting away on my meager spread, I did feel like I had accomplished something and I was fully capable of accomplishing said something again in future. Though I have no confirmation that the akhu are pleased, it [almost] doesn’t matter because I am pleased. Sure, I’d like to know that they showed up and hung around for a bit with what I had given them. But, at this [still tender] stage of the game, it’s really all about what I’m doing, how I’m doing, and where I’m going with it.

While I can’t say, clearly, if what I have done and what my aims were are in line with my recon-slanted layperson practice, I think that what I did provide and what I did do could very well be in keeping with how John Doe-hotep did it way back then. It’s simple. It’s small. It’s in my home. And it was done with love and affection, not just for my akhu but for myself as well. And if that’s not the important part, then what is?

Kemetic Round Table: Holidays.

The Kemetic Round Table (KRT) is a blogging project aimed at providing practical, useful information for modern Kemetic religious practitioners. For all the entries relating to this particular topic, take a peek here.

This is pretty damn accurate, if you ask any other Kemetic out there.

This is pretty damn accurate, if you ask any other Kemetic out there.

The world of Kemeticism is filled with holidays. There are numerous calendars to choose from when it comes to holidays. We all joke about it, but legitimately, just about every day of the year is some form of feast, festival, procession, or major celebration. In some cases, we have a multitude of various celebrations to choose from on any given day. In other case, there are holidays that span quite a few days at a time (I think there is even one that spans an entire thirty days, if I’m recalling my calendar information correctly), which accounts for much of the “multiple celebrations to choose from” thing. While spoons are a serious consideration when deciding how many, and how frequently, one spends in regards to their holy days, there are so many to choose from that you could celebrate whichever ones you want and may not find a single other Kemetic who celebrates the same one! Both an exciting and frightening prospect, in and of itself.

While holidays aren’t the be-all, end-all to anyone’s religious practice, incorporating them into what we do, I believe, is rather important. It is with daily devotions, of course, that we build our relationships. But just as with interpersonal and mundane relationships, things begin to grow. And with those things growing, we must begin to look outside of our “usual bag of tricks” in an effort to move forward with those relationships. While the metaphor I just used may be a little sloppy, it’s accurate for the relationships we are building with our gods, as well. Giving offerings and praying to our gods is an excellent way to begin our connections and continuing in those devotions with a larger focus, such as a holiday, is an excellent next step one will inevitably take.

I think that while, also, facilitating a deeper association between gods and their devotees, holidays are also a very good way of letting off some steam. While I do advocate piety in one’s practice, I also believe that we need to keep the fun in all of this, as well. We can’t just sit around and have deep philosophical conversations all the time or discuss historical tidbits to death. Sometimes, we need to let loose and in order to do that, we need to let down our hair, so to speak. As a prime example, one of my last celebrations – prior to this year’s Intercalary Days and Wep-Ronpet – was a procession of Sekhmet. I tend to refer to this as Sekhmet’s version of the Roaming Gnome because, quite frankly, that is exactly what it was. I took my deity’s statue around the house, snapped a picture, and called it a night. While there are a lot of things that one may want to put into a festival or feast, from supplies to intention, we can’t forget about just exactly how much fun we can all have while celebrating them.

There are numerous ways to go about figuring out when those celebrations are.

Some people choose certain days of the week as kind of impromptu celebrations for their deity of choice. For example, people may take the planetary associations with days of the week and incorporate them into festivals of some sort for their gods: Sunday would be days to celebrate for the solar deities (so about 99% of the Kemetic pantheon). Or, you may choose a day of the week that “speaks” to you on some level for the deity that you are looking to celebrate for. And again, you could just put the seven days of the week up on a dart board, throw a dart, and see where it lands. With the humorous and slightly sarcastic invention of “Bitter Tits Tuesday” in honor of Djehuty, I think it had more to do with the T in the word “tits” than anything else. (Devo and Desh are the two to ask about that. I just pay attention to it). But really, that stems from personal preference. If you want to choose a particular day of the week and use it as an all-encompassing way to celebrate your gods in various reasons, then do so.

Another way to go about figuring out when celebrations will be is by overlaying the Kemetic calendar (which one?) to the Julian calendar that we use now. So, in instances like that, people would choose Wep Ronpet to coincide with New Year’s Day and the Intercalary Days being the five days immediately preceding New Year’s Day. If you can associate the months that are of Kemetic design with the months that we currently have in use, then it makes things a little easier. However, in so doing this, one must take into consideration that there will be celebrations for holidays that are not in line with your local area’s weather patterns. Actually, this may be the case no matter how you end up creating your calendar, but it’s something you should keep in mind. I did attempt this, myself, and found it lacking. Part of the reason I had so many troubles with it was because my calendar was so far removed from other Kemetics’ calendars that it seemed like I was running solo even though the Kemetic community has quite a few players within. However, it’s something to keep in mind when debating on how best to begin your own holiday calendar.

Some other ways to begin the whole “when” question is to find out when the star Sirius (Sopdet) rises above the horizon for the first time in your area. Of course, you may want to base your calendar off of a specific city, either where you live or in ancient Egypt, so you will need the proper coordinates in order to do this. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of specifically how and where you go about this information. I will, however, provide a link to the entry that helped me with this. Suffice to say, this is probably the most labor intensive (and I don’t recommend doing it without being fully caffeinated) but also one of the most liberating and exciting ways to discover your calendar. From there, it’s only a matter of time of counting down the days to start interspersing the celebrations you want to celebrate – such as Wep-Ronpet, the Wag Festival, the Opet Festival, et cetera – into your own calendar system.

Celebrating holidays, and the how, is something that is highly dependent on the aim of the celebration. I wrote about this not all that long ago and I think the items that I listed in that entry are just as valid today. I can tell you, however, that when it comes to celebrating your holidays, you may want to make a list of the things you want to incorporate into this holiday. The questions I’ve highlighted in the post I just linked to are important aspects to ask yourself when you begin to celebrate and how best to plan out your celebration. Now, I’m a huge fan of pulling things out of your butt at the last minute. Without planning and foresight, then you are better able to have fun, in my opinion. Obviously, that’s not always the case, but it also makes it less likely for you to feel like you’ve failed or fucked up if you don’t have a game plan in place. However, if you’re just starting out, I highly recommend that you move forward with planning things.

I also highly recommend that you start off with minor celebrations. Some of the bigger things, like the Opet Festival or the Wag Festival, may leave you with star struck eyes at the possibility of celebrating them. However, moving into this whole holy day thing with some of the largest Kemetic celebrations out there isn’t necessarily recommended. If you choose something minor, such as a feast day, to begin with, then you can at least begin to get a feel relating to what it is that you are about and what it is you are hoping to achieve with all of this. Just as you don’t start swimming by diving off of the high board, you need to take small steps to build yourself up to a comfort level with your Kemetic holidays.

This is how we celebrate "Bitter Tits Tuesday," some water and pictures on our breasts.

This is how we celebrate “Bitter Tits Tuesday,” some water and pictures on our breasts.

There is no tried and true “you must do this” when it comes to what types of things you decide to add into your calendar. I think many people are frightened away from adding their own interpretations of celebrations to their religious calendars because “woo” in the Kemetic hemisphere is predominantly looked down upon. We’re so focused on how recon we are that we forget that this isn’t about us so much as what we can provide for them. And if you go right out and create your own religious celebration, then you are obviously snorting down the “woo.” The thing is, however, that recon is all fine and dandy until you realize that you could very well be preventing your relationship with the god in question from moving forward by allowing what other people think to hold you back. Case in point: a group of us Kemetics began seriously celebrating “Bitter Tits Tuesday” in honor of Djehuty. Not a single aspect of it has to do with anything except all of us having fun and a great laugh. I actually made a little bitter tits face that I tape on to the breast of my icon each Tuesday. Does this reek of being kind of an asshole? Maybe. Is it fun? Shit, yeah. Do I care what other people may think? Not really because I’m having some damn fun while I’m doing it.

My best advice on the whole subject of holiday is to have a lot of fun and to do whatever makes you most comfortable. This isn’t really about what we can do or what we can’t do. This religious path is here because we decided it sounded like a grand old time. In same vein, we need to take that attitude and incorporate it into the holidays we are looking forward to adding to our religious practices.

Wep Ronpet 2013

When I woke up in the morning, I felt an instant change from the lackluster feelings of the intercalary days. It was almost like I had snorted coffee grounds in my sleep as well as had five Starbucks Double Shots, all in a row. The second I opened my eyes, I saw a lady bug above me. Thrilled beyond belief, I spent the first ten minutes of my day working on how to get a picture (that wasn’t shaky) so that I could show everyone how awesome my day was so obviously going to be. I’m not quite sure how I managed to maintain this energy overload, except I do have some ideas as to the cause – not just because of the holiday, I’m afraid – but it was quite refreshing. It made me feel new and fresh and altogether better about everything. It was going to be a good day.

From left to right, that is Sekhmet, Aset, Hetheru, and Djehuty.

From left to right, that is Sekhmet, Aset, Hetheru, and Djehuty.

I pulled all of my icons out of their normal places and left them on top of our air conditioner. The year before, I had taken my Sekhmet and Hetheru icons outside to be re-energized by Re’s rays while I did the same. Unfortunately, I had to work, so I couldn’t sunbathe along with my icons. I left them above the air conditioner to greet the day and to rejuvenate themselves in the sun. They went in the window at about 8:30 in the morning and didn’t come back out until about twelve hours later. If that’s not rejuvenation, then what was? While they started the process, I went outside and did some rejuvenating in the morning sun myself.

As I walked my dog, I had a dumb smile on my face. As I got dressed, I had a dumb smile on my face. As I brushed my teeth and did my hair, I had a dumb smile on my face. As I drove to work, I had a dumb smile on my face. And this pattern continued throughout the day. Only, it wasn’t just idiotic smiles over nothing on my face. It manifested itself in numerous ways. There were intricate dance numbers about various things. I tugged the telecommunications strings that I work with day in and day out and everything I needed and wanted was made manifest. There were numerous projects that I had been waiting on someone else to assist me in completing them and they were all in my inbox by the time I came to work. I sang, horribly off-key, about every aspect of my day. I was accused of drinking too much caffeine. It didn’t matter what it was to everyone looking at me. It was the new day and it was a new year and I was going to enjoy every minute of it. I knew I was going to have a good day and I wasn’t wrong. If this was the model for all future days throughout the next year, then I will have the best year of my life.

When I got home, I jumped in the shower so I could do some quick cleansing. I talked to TH about how awesome my day was. As I explained to him, I was a consummate bad ass all day and everything I touched turned into awesome.

We had an okay evening at home. I relaxed. I spent a lot of time just sitting with my son and watching television. When I was sick of his cartoons – damn you, Sprout Channel, and your 24 hours of child programming – I sent him to his room. And I just relaxed. I didn’t worry about all of the things I was planning to do for the rest of my festival. I didn’t worry about all of the clothes I needed to wash or what parts of my house were dirty (all of it). I just spent time, not bothering with anything that wasn’t about me. I took a few hours of my day to be selfish for the first time in a very long time. And while I will always have a guilt complex about taking a time out from being a mom, being a devotee, being a human being so that I can treat myself, it wasn’t something that I deserved and something that I needed.

When it got late enough and it looked like the sun was finally going to go down, I pulled my icons out of their impromptu home in the window. I placed them back in their respective places, making sure that everything was clean and ready for residency. Each icon was given a little prayer of thanksgiving and a moment of intense emotion before I put them on their various altars. I refreshed offerings before spending more time, clicking over Sekhmet’s new icon and her altar space. While I had rearranged everything to my satisfaction the week prior, I still had some finishing touches to add. When I felt that everything looked all right, I added fresh offerings to each deity and snapped photographs of Sekhmet’s new icon.

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Don't fucking come back, motherfucker.

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Don’t fucking come back, motherfucker.

To finish off my evening, I decided I needed to do some major execration. Since I have a lot of high school related shadow work in the year to come, I decided to execrate that particular experience. While high school tends to merely equate with those four years of freshman to senior year, I’ve added items that occurred both before and after. And since a lot of that shadow work is the main reason for a lot of my anxiety and self-esteem problems, I added those items as well. I also added the three main people that I need to execrate in great detail this coming year. I put a giant Apep representation in the middle as a final sticking point. You will also notice that I added other items to my execration but my main focus had to do with the ritual execration of poopy head in the center there and the three names around it.

I stomped upon the paper four times with each foot. I crumbled it up. I stabbed it a few times with the ritually pure blade that sleeps on Sekhmet’s altar. I then took it outside and lit it. The burn was slow and steady. In fact, it was so slow and steady that I had more than enough time to read a few chapters in the book I’m reading, check my E-mail, and comment a few times on Facebook. When the burn was complete, I looked into my little pot and was startled by the lack of debris. I’ll usually have something or another left over after an execration, but not this time.

I’ve decided to take it as a good sign.

While this year’s Wep Ronpet was not nearly as action packed as last year, I have to admit that I was rather more pleased with the lackadaisical approach to this holiday. There was hardly any planning before the day itself. There wasn’t even a thought as to what I was going to do besides make sure my icons were rejuvenated by Re’s giving rays. I didn’t really worry that I wouldn’t have as much time as I had the previous year. I didn’t even really care how things ended up. I just knew that I wanted something without too much fanciness and without too much pomp. While planning a big, ornate rituals is all well and good, it takes a lot of spoons right the hell on out of you, just in the prep. And while I will admit that I can get a little jealous when I see other’s really “perfect” and “ornately scrumptious” rituals all laid to bear, I have to admit that even just thinking about doing something like that takes a lot out of me, too.

Besides, the point in this stuff is about me. This whole process has nothing to do with anyone outside of this household. It’s about me. It’s about my gods. And it’s about paying homage to them in whatever way my little layperson self can think up. And frankly, if my religion is all about outward appearance then I really must be doing something wrong. If that were ever the case, I should very well stop what I’m doing, pack it all up, and move on with my life.

The Act of Saying Goodbye.

As tomorrow begins the start of the intercalary days prior to my Kemetic New Year, I knew I had to get this entry written tonight or leave the story without an ending. As someone who always thought of themselves as an author, leaving something so open-ended was tantamount to failure.

There are a lot of things I haven’t mentioned in this year-long work with my ex-husband and all that I have put myself through in an attempt to prevent our traveling this road again. While my writing down every ounce of what happened between us in this current life was important, it was only a small part to the overall work that I had to go through. Much of the work that I put myself through had to do with astral shenanigans as well as reliving our past lives together. A lot of the work was such intense healing work that there are no words to describe what I had to put myself through in order to destroy the tether that bound our two souls. I’m going to finally describe what I did on the astral, minus the past life stuff, so that others who read this will know what NOT to do if they ever end up like me.

After Hekate made it abundantly clear that my ex-husband and I have been bound together, soul to soul, for numerous lives, I began to feel like I had a black, oozing cancer manifesting itself in my soul. This cancer would begin to eat away at every ounce of who I am and destroyed a lot of the connections I had been building over the years. It tended to come out in a physical way with self-destructive impulses, as well as depression, anxiety, and anger. These emotions, while I do experience them on my own, seemed to be multiplied and exacerbated no matter what sort of motions I went through in order to stem the tide. It was almost as if this cancer was trying to destroy me because I was attempting to remove it.

Much of the ooze – there really is no descriptor besides that for what his soul facet within mine was like – had become so integrated into my core soul components that a simple surgery like we would get at the astral doctor was out. I had to do a form of chemotherapy to remove it. With each dose of this form of astral chemo – usually in the form of watching a past life over and over again, trying to see it from clinical eyes instead of emotional eyes – would shrink the cancer a little bit at a time. And with each time I came back from that adventure, I would find myself more disconnected, more disillusioned, more depressed, and questioning my sanity all the more. While the last bit may not have anything to do with the connection I have with my ex-husband, it is something that I began to take note of right along with everything else as I fought back against the cancer eating away at my soul.

Around the time that Hekate began to make motions about leaving, I grew tired of waiting on the chemotherapy. A lot of the tired of waiting was my own fault. I put a lot of this off for longer and longer periods of time. This was, also, I’ve come to diagnose, a side effect of that soul cancer. With each entry I wrote here and each trip into the astral, I ended up coming back from it with less and less desire to work on the problem. I began to truly despair that I would get this done in a timely manner. And with Hekate leaving me in the good hands of Sekhmet to continue the healing process, I really knew that I had a choice here. I could continue down the tried and true path, taking my doses of chemotherapy each night or I could do something drastic.

Here’s a little known fact about me: I am the most impatient sonofabitch you ever did meet.

So, without any anesthetic or any warning, I reached into my soul and yanked the cancer out. I flung the dirty, the vile, the horrific thing away from me. And I fell to the ground.

Don’t worry, this is not recommended and I got my ass handed to me. Hekate decided that I was an idiot and that’s, actually, why she left when she did. Sekhmet cooed over me and yelled at me. I got a lot of yelling as I lay curled on my side for days in the astral. I didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t do anything. For large parts of it, I wasn’t even aware of what was going on in the astral because I hadn’t just ripped out the cancerous ooze that was my ex-husband’s binding to my soul, but I had also managed to rip out a large portion of my soul with it. And of course, since nothing was ever easy either because of myself or because this is my life, those soul pieces were now missing. With three-quarters of a soul, I began to slowly come back to myself. Most of the next few days were entirely devoted to Sekhmet yelling at me, Aset cooing over me and clicking her tongue, and Mut doing her motherly affectation.

I was pretty much in a daze.

I spent the next few months slowly going around and trying to find the piece of my soul that I had ripped out along with the cancer. Aset would send me places and I would begin to find what I needed in order to start piecing the puzzle of my soul back together. I don’t know how or why, but very much like the crystal from InuYasha, my soul pieces ended up all over the fucking place. I managed to gather up many of those pieces and brought them back to Sekhmet to have her bind them up and shove them back into place. The problem here is that not all the pieces were found – the cancer was still attached to some of the soul bits and I couldn’t figure out how to clean it off so I figured it was better to do without – and so that fit wasn’t complete. Sekhmet did… something… and the soul bits have managed to reform with one another. The fit isn’t total; it’s definitely not complete.

I don’t recommend doing this for a lot of reasons – the yelling, the pain, the daze, the stupidity – but above all, the problem is that when you are trying to re-grow soul bits to fit with one another, you end up kind of insane for a while. It’s very much like a broken mosaic that has to be refit together. Sekhmet used bits of herself to fortify what she was doing and got some other bits from some helpful other spirits we know. There were days where I didn’t know who or what I was and what I was supposed to be doing on the astral. Other days, I couldn’t remember how to get back to the astral at all. And in still other days, half of me was in the astral while the other half was living here, doing things and being alive.

Another reason why this was can be so difficult is because you end up with various personalities more at the surface than with other personalities. This is how you get to meet how many soul facets you have within you, but it’s not really a good idea if you have to, you know, like live a life or anything. I found two major personalities in my soul who are polar fucking opposites and there were days where I wanted to rip my head off of my shoulders because I was rapidly cycling from personality to personality. This was pretty much when I was given absolute fucking obvious testimony that I am (A) Sekhmet’s daughter and (B) not as crazy as I always just assumed.

While all of this insanity was going on with my woo life, I ended up doing some very cathartic in-this-life magix to assist in my moving on.

Sometimes, literally cutting cords is the most cathartic thing a person can do.

Sometimes, literally cutting cords is the most cathartic thing a person can do.

I went out and bought one of those shitty little rope toys you can purchase for your dog. I was hoping for a pure white one, but ended up with this kind of multicolored ribbon type for $1. I pinned my name to one end and my ex-husband’s to the other. I placed it as an offering upon Sekhmet’s shrine and over three days, I literally cut the cords.

It was during this time that I began to seriously consider what the step for these halves were. I knew that I needed to do something nurturing towards my half, but I wasn’t quite sure what I needed to do with the ex-husband’s half. It was then that I wrote my entry regarding the etiquette of saying goodbye. After a lot of back and forth with myself, I decided that as much as I still want to make him feel badly for what he did to me, it wasn’t worth it. Sometimes, the fact that we can say, “I really dislike what you have done to me and I would very much like you to acknowledge that you screwed me over, I am an adult and I can walk away.” As an adult, I decided I would be kinder to he than he has ever been to me.

This is what my half looked like when I was finished.

This is what my half looked like when I was finished.

With both of our halves in hand, I began to sing to myself as I braided charms into the ends. I placed little amulets for dreams, hope, success, spoons, and other type things on my end. I fed my half with all of the things I was hoping to find in my life without my ex-husband and his soul being bound to mine. Instead of searing the ends as I knew that would hurt terribly, I ended up tying off the ends so that they would “atrophy” and drop off, making it impossible for my half to adequately forge with his again. I added four jingle bells to it so that he would know I was coming if we meet again in the astral or if we meet in another life.

I did the same for his half because, again, I am the adult here.

I buried my half in a pleasant place beside a birch tree. The place that I chose was really no contest. I knew that I wanted to finish my half of the rite in a place where I was comfortable and where I could watch over that portion of myself over the years. Not only did I finish the rite in a place where I am happy and at peace – and honestly, whenever I go there, I feel like I am ‘home’ – but I also had TH assist me with the burial part. This was a symbolic way of showing that not only did TH help me completely in getting away from my ex-husband in this life, but that he has continued, over the years, to help me in contending with the horror and trauma from that time of my life. So, with hands held, we buried my portion of my soul in a pleasant, happy place.

I threw the ex-husband’s half in the trash.

It went to the dump yesterday.

And now, I can say that I am completely free.

The Etiquette of Saying Goodbye.

There is something about goodbyes, no matter how necessary that they may be, that are incredibly painful. I have had a whole host of goodbyes in my life, not many of them at my own behest, and none of them went over very well with my psyche or with my emotional health. There is something about removing someone who you have known for years from your life that is incredibly difficult. Even though you know that what you are doing could very well save your life and the lives of your friends and family, you still think that a goodbye – a final goodbye – is too much to bear. So, you don’t bother doing it and you live on in fear, hatred, anger, and pain until the final end comes or you finally have a single moment, a single second, to run screaming into the night.

Even knowing what life was like towards the end of my marriage, I am still finding it difficult to say goodbye.

I thought I should write a letter, at first, to explain that I forgave him for everything he had put me through. Knowing full well what he had done to me, to my personal growth, to the growth of my soul on the astral, and everything in between, I knew that I had to at least let him know that in some way. While I’ve said that bit here and there on the astral to that soul that once bound with mine, I no longer need to say it. And honestly, that’s not how I wanted to say farewell to a man who had been in my life for years and who had been in previous lives over and over and over again. While I am usually very good at writing and letters and the perfect wording of the point that I want to convey, I found myself still a little angry and still, perhaps, a little unable to forgive the binding of our souls.

I knew a letter wasn’t a good idea.

The thing that I have repeatedly come up against, knowing all that he has done to my in this life, has been the fact that it’s the binding of our souls for so many years that causes me the most heartache. While I cannot remember the exact life or the exact place when our souls united in a very unhealthy way, I do remember the emotions of that person and that aspect of my soul. I can remember the hope. I can remember the joy. And I can even remember the love that my soul—no. I can even remember the love that each of our souls had for one another. And I can remember holding hands while we were bound together with words that I have long forgotten. And I can remember that moment and the surety that if things didn’t work out in this life then they would clearly work out in the next.

I remember the innocence of that moment and not understanding the gravity of the situation.

And I can remember the hope, the joy, the excitement, and the love that we both turned to one another. And in that moment of those beautiful, wonderful emotions, we were bound together. And things didn’t work out in that life, so with hope and joy, we moved on to the next. And the next. And the next. And the next. And the next. There really are too many to count now. I have had to relive them all over and over again. And I can remember each moment when my soul searched humanity, scanning each person in front of me for that soul aspect that it needed for completion, for that one person they needed above all others. In some lives, we never met. In other lives, we started over again. And as time went by and each life did not end as we had hoped, as we had wanted, we went back to it again.

And over time, we both became disillusioned.

And over time, I began to want to get away and never return because each life was successively worse than the one that preceded it. It should tell anyone who has read that statement how much hell we both put ourselves through and we both put each other through over the years. We’ve killed one another. We’ve raped one another. We’ve beaten one another. We have done every untoward and awful thing to each other – both the physical shell of our souls and to our souls themselves – over the years and no resolution has ever come.

I understand now, I think, why certain other astral related things happened in this life. And I also understand now why certain people were brought to my life. And now, I understand what I must do. I must sever the tie completely. For all intents and purposes, that tie is actually severed. I feel peaceful and dreamy, sometimes, when I go to the place where that soul facet once rested. It’s a facet that I ripped out of myself and kept hidden in a safe place for the day when I could destroy the knots that bound our two souls together. That day has come and gone; the separation has completed. And now, it is finally time to say goodbye.

And I find myself horribly unable to do so.

I’ve gone back through many things in the last few weeks, preparing myself for this moment. While the letter writing thing failed, I looked in other avenues for a proper goodbye.

My issue here is that you can’t just kick someone to the curb after so many lifetimes together – there must be proper etiquette here, hm? However, I can assure anyone else who may have this issue in future that there is not. And I have to create that etiquette all my own. And with the words of Sekhmet in my ears – you’re too nice for your own damn good – I go searching for that etiquette. A simple goodbye, an easy farewell seems like such an anticlimactic end to so many years together, so many hurts together, and so many deaths at one another’s hands. Even with the very real right to just run the fuck away, even now, I find myself unable to do something so simple and so brave.

There must be a proper way to say goodbye.

I keep coming back to the day when our hands were bound together in a rite that neither one of us really understood. He understood it, his astral self anyway, far quicker than my simple little soul facet could. That soul piece is very kind and very nice and has always looked for that knight in shining armor. That very soul facet has always looked for the good in everyone. And it has been her downfall many a time, but not so much more than this particular time. With very real regret and sadness she is willing to say goodbye to a soul that shared her life with her so many times, but she still hopes that there is goodness in that soul and that love will find him one day.

Maybe not in this life and definitely not with her, but maybe in the next and with someone better suited.

I keep coming back to that day when our hands were bound together in a rite that neither of us could really understand. And I keep coming back to that because that was the ultimate moment of betrayal to me, the soul piece that did not willingly bind myself to a man who would kill me over and over again. This soul facet – me – looks back on that moment with pity and horror, knowing what will eventually happen and knowing that there was never anyone around who could have or would have stopped it. The person who I am today is partly because of that kind, sweet, simple girl soul facet who has always wanted a knight in shining arm, riding in on a unicorn with a defeated evil wizard’s head on his shield. But a smaller part of the person who I am today did not agree to that binding. And that smaller part is in control now, demanding that we say goodbye.

But she keeps reminding me that there must be some etiquette, something more than just a simple “va te faire foutre, trouduc” as I am wont to do, and this is why. That moment with hands bound. That moment with tears in their eyes. That moment of heart flutters. That moment of love swelling. That moment in the green grass of unknown time, surrounded by nothing but the flutter of wind, the smell of flowers, and hope on the horizon. She keeps bringing me back there and reminding me that we can’t just kick him to the curb. We can’t just toss him out without a single regret. We can’t just say “fuck the fuck off and die already” to someone who once loved us very much.

To run away from the heaviness that other soul keeps forcing on me, I have gone back through old stories and poems I wrote when I was living with that man. I’ve re-read old blog entries. I’ve gone through our relationship over and over again. I’ve found some very telling pointers in the last few hours that convey that I was fully aware, in a subconscious way, of what was going to happen. With chilling words, I’ve written about this very moment of bittersweet finality over and over again in various made up universes. And with each minute that I have read and re-read what once I wrote about us, I find myself very angry indeed because the soul facet who is stronger now – me – has had enough of this binding, of this connection and wants it all to fucking stop.

And now, I am supposed to say goodbye.

A part of me that is still a little angry and a little bitter wants to curse him still. He had known earlier than my soul facet what the hell had been done to our souls. He had known far sooner than this sweet, little facet and had done nothing to remove the binding. His soul learned faster than mine what was needed or could be done and what had been done between the two of us. Sometimes, I wonder if he knew even back then but that sweet, innocent soul facet assures me that is not the case. I’m more cynical than she is, though, and I have to wonder. Considering all the things he has done to me, astrally speaking, since the day he walked out of our home and said we could get a divorce, I have to think that he knows a hell of a lot more than I do about all of this shit. And that he’s known for far longer. But that sweet part of my soul that is loud, sometimes, and still colors my life in the realm of love and soul mates, swears that my cynical views are not all true and not always the way it is.

I would take her word for it, but I am cynical for good reason.

I have to say goodbye to a man who I have both loved and hated. I will be honest, I have never truly had to say goodbye-goodbye to anyone before. I have never been able to look at a situation and know that I will never, ever see them again in this life or the next or the next or even on the astral. I’m imbedding specific telltale signs in our souls – both his and mine – so that we won’t meet up again without knowing that the other one is bad news and walking the fuck away. I’ve also learned a thing or two, both in this life and in the astral, and I know what needs to be done now to make sure that things never happen like this to my sweet soul facet and to my cynical soul facet ever again.

This is all a novel experience for me, but I will be honest, I hope I never have to do this again.

In the meantime, we have to come up with proper etiquette on how to formally say goodbye before Wep-Ronpet this year. That is the time line we have both established with Sekhmet nodding grandly in the background at our choice. Why would we want to start another twelve month cycle with that ex of ours even slightly in it? We have other projects to work on, other shadow work to get done with, and it will probably take just as long and probably be just as difficult as this one person, this single soul, has turned out to be. We have work to do and that work mostly has to do with what “proper etiquette” of such a permanent goodbye is likely to be.

Sekhmet recommends a final goodbye with fire.

The sweet part of me thinks that we should wish him well and bury him so that “the soul will flourish and grow; the soul will find love again; the soul will learn to maintain its spoons; and it will do so without me.”

The cynical part of me is fond of the fire idea.

But the sweet one wins the day.

She wants to see him grow apart from her even as she grows apart from him and we’ll see it done.

We still need to figure out what a proper goodbye is, though.

And the clock is ticking…

Father’s Day.

There are quite a few American holidays that leave me both incredibly confused and that I shy away from doing anything meaningful with. As a Kemetic living in a modern society, I do wish to incorporate public, national holidays into my Kemetic calendar. While I will still attempt to have festivities that are Kemetic only, I also want to have religious holidays for some of the larger public holidays. This way, my calendar will flow along with the calendar my son will be utilizing when he begins school in the fall and so that he won’t look “too odd” when compared to the rest of his compatriots. I also want to do this because, as the years go by and I honor the akhu of those who helped to (A) found this very nation and (B) found this particular area of this nation, I have found myself becoming more and more interested in nationwide holidays: Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, and things of that nature. However, there are other national holidays, like this one, that I have purposely been ignoring because I have a love-hate relationship with them.

And for the last [nearly] twenty-three years, I have had a major love-hate relationship with Father’s Day.

As a child, I can remember being incredibly isolated when it came to Father’s Day. It wasn’t my classmates’ fault or the fault of my teachers that my father died when I was seven. However, I can remember feeling very left out from all of the discussions about what people did with their dads and what presents they gave their dads for the holiday. While my mother did an excellent job with the double duty, I have to say that it was still uncomfortable for me to even remotely acknowledge that this was a holiday and one that everyone else (besides me, it felt) could or would celebrate it. I have to admit that most, if not all, of my classmates had the two parent dynamic that was pretty standard in the 80s: you had a mom and you had a dad. While it’s possible some of those fathers and mothers lived apart because of divorce, though I can’t recall any one of my elementary school classmates who went through that particular difficult time, I know that I was the only one who had a father and then had him die on me. So, I really did not like Father’s Day and I would often remain coldly remote in the back of the classroom while everyone discussed what they did for their dads. I got to hear the stories about dads getting breakfast in bed and getting ties and spending quality time together at Riverside Park. I heard it all and sat quietly in my ice castle, ignoring the fact that this holiday was real and wounded me deeply.

As I grew older, I remained very remote in my ice castle. There is absolutely no other way to describe it. As a pre-teen and teenager, I found other people whose parents were gone from them either because of divorce or death, but it still remained a very painful holiday for me. I would think of all the really awesome, cool things I could have done with my dad for the holiday and have to remind myself that would never happen. It wasn’t just that I had a single parent but because, in all reality, I knew my dad wasn’t that kind of person. He wouldn’t have done the breakfast in bed thing. He wouldn’t have wanted a tie (probably more like a flannel, plaid shirt). He probably would not have taken my brother and I to Riverside Park for fun and festivities. Logic dictates to me that no matter what other kids did with their parents, it wouldn’t have happened in my life even if my father had been alive. And even though I can still see that logical side to things, I still absolutely have a love-hate relationship with this damn holiday.

Even though, TH is now a father and we celebrate things with his family, I still feel very remote. I still feel like I am in my isolated ice castle, looking around at all of these people with fathers. I know intrinsically that this is a falsehood. Many of my online friends have mentioned their relationships with their fathers and step-fathers, not all of which are good. Many of my in-real-life friends have very difficult relationships with their fathers and step-fathers. The Sister’s father has been dead almost her entire life, so she can kind of get it. But, she’s also lucky in the step-father she has. They have a really awesome (and jealousy inducing) relationship. And just looking at how awful and rocky TH’s relationship with his dad and step-dad can and has been shows me that I am not the only person who has been and will be aching by the time this day is over. But, even with the knowledge that I am literally not alone here, I still feel like I am living in an ice castle, crusts of pain etching my heart.

The thing is that I have to move to a place beyond this.

Today is Father’s Day and my daddy is in Heaven. (One day, I will discuss his being in Heaven and my being Kemetic, but that is not today.)

Father's Day card for all of those fathers who aren't with us today.

Father’s Day card for all of those fathers who aren’t with us today.

With all of my akhu veneration, my father gets a large chunk of what I do. While I have other immediate relatives who had gone into the West, he was the first one of mine to do so. And he was the man who was supposed to sit on the front porch with a shotgun, keeping all the boys at bay that I was supposedly going to bring knocking on our door. He wasn’t able to do that (and sometimes, I am quite angry that he wasn’t), but he is still a part of who I am, who I will be, and the values that I teach my son in future. In maintaining my relationship with him after his passing, it has been a very difficult and harrowing road most of the time. Years of atheism and years of believing in reincarnation have attempted to complete the gaping void his passing has opened within me. Honestly, it’s only been with the deep delving into akhu veneration that I have done that has provided me with the comfort and strength and hope that I had always been looking for. So, it’s really not very surprising that it is to my father, that stalwart man of my youth, that I turn to most often when it comes to what I do, how I do it, and when I do it for my akhu venerating. He gets the most cemetery visits. He gets the choicest offerings that I am able to provide. He also gets the most thought from me and the most prayers from me. In a weird way, even though I am venerating other peoples’ ancestors with my grave-tending, it is to him that I think of the most as I snap pictures of the graves that I visit and as I leave my offerings to feed their souls. I guess in a weird way, I have my father to thank for how intense my akhu veneration is. And it is to my father, I suppose, that I dedicate each visit, each picture, each offering, each remembered name.

And it is because of him that this holiday is now, finally, becoming both just as painful and less painful as it always has been throughout the years.

It is to my father that I dedicate the working I will do with the akhu this evening. This is the akhu of all fathers, both good and bad, both short-term and long-term, who have passed into the West. It is with my father in mind that I will create offerings of the choicest meats, the choicest vegetables, and the choices flowers. It is to my father, with aid from Anup and the Bawon, that I will create an entire spread for the spirits of fathers who have gone on and it is with my love and my hurt that I will add this holiday into my calendar. And it is with their assistance that I will hopefully be able to find peace and rest from the constant torment I felt as a child as an outsider (for having one one parent) and the constant torment I feel with my anger at his death and the constant torment I feel while living in my isolated ice castle.

Dear Daddy,

I missed you again today when everyone else was talking about how much fun they had with their daddies this weekend. I have to admit that it hurts me terribly that I will never know that sort of joy. And I have to admit that it kind of makes me angry. But I still love you. I still miss you. But, above all, I still love you.

Never doubt that.

This Is What Grave-Tending Is.

With dirt-covered fingers and broken fingernails, I know that I succeeded, somewhere.

With dirt-covered fingers and broken fingernails, I know that I succeeded, somewhere.

As I sat in my car, leaning my head back against the head rest and my eyes shut against the bright sunshine, I felt the ache in my muscles. My shoulders and my forearms were calling out for a warm soak and stiffened fingers needed cleaning. As I opened my eyes and glanced down, I marveled at the change in my hands. The few nails that had grown out in the last two weeks were broken and dirty. There were pockmarks left from when I had buried my hands, to the wrist, in blackened soil and overgrown grass roots. On my forefinger, I had somehow managed to rip open the cuticles around the base of my nail and was only feeling the pain from that injury as I looked down at my marvelous, work-soaked hands. And as I marveled at my hands and all of the hard work they had done, as well as all the injury they had received, I knew I had succeeded in doing a job well done. The ache in my muscles, the dirt on my hands, the injuries I was cataloging were all clear signs that I had succeeded in the sacrifice and I could go home pleased.

I don’t really discuss grave-tending overmuch right now. It’s become so habitual that I honestly forget to discuss it outside of a few pointed comments here and there. It’s also become such a devotional and sacred act that, occasionally, the act of writing about it or the act of speaking about it feels, sometimes, to detract from the works that I am doing. It is with glee and joy, with excitement and happiness that I do these things for the land, those interred, my family, and the surrounding area. But, there are some days in which I want to speak even less about the work and more about the act itself. In same vein, there are days where I don’t want to do much more than come home and weep for the destruction the elements cause and that time causes. On days like that, I don’t want to say or do anything to bring it back into focus because it hurts. But some days, all I want to do is snap pictures of my once beautifully manicured hands and say, this is what it is to tend graves.

Yesterday, I went to family graves. I go to them, sometimes, because I need the quick release I’ve come to associate with grave-tending. The act, in and of itself, is like a trip to the mall for someone who needs retail therapy. Only, instead of buying clothes and shoes to fill a closet I don’t have, I snap pictures of the things that I do and of the people that I meet. Some days, I go with an intention bigger than life – to photograph a cemetery with hundreds of headstones and it becomes a project for a few weeks. And soon, I will begin another project like that, but first, I wanted to see to all of my favorites and all of my family before I begin the big things again. So, yesterday, I went to see my father’s family members who are buried nearby. I haven’t seen my grandmother since last year and her grave was covered over for the most part.

It took me a while to clear it of the grass. Roots are tenacious buggers and the grass or sod used in cemeteries is a pain. There are days where I rip off all of my nails as I clear off headstones from the detritus of time and being forgotten. My grandmother was another one of those casualties and I couldn’t even read her name or her dates. I could read the epithet clearly, her laughter was as warm as our memory of her. But, I couldn’t see who she was anymore and I couldn’t remember the important dates anymore. I cut off the grass with spade and chisel, carefully clearing the extraneous dirt into one of the jars I have to hand for such instances. I cut a worm in half, accidentally. I fought the roots. I took a toothpick and cleared away the roots that had infested the etchings. And then I sat back and marveled at my handiwork.

I looked down at my hands and said, this is what it means to grave-tend.

The acts that I provide are a consummate sacrifice. If I’m not sacrificing skin and cuticles, nails and muscles, then I’m sacrificing other things, too. I sacrifice my Saturday mornings to do these things. I sacrifice the rest of my day, actually, so that I can rest up and have a day all to myself – a novelty, really, when you have a five-year-old at home. I sacrifice the money I earn from my job in gas and offerings. Some of these places are a stone’s throw away, so to speak, but many of them are not. And they all deserve my love and my attentiveness. I take that sacrifice to heart and I feel the joy that my heart sings at having done so. Sometimes, sacrifice is easy and other times it is not. In either case, all that matters is that I am willing to patiently do what I can every week to see that these people, biological family and otherwise, are remembered and fed well.

On days like yesterday, I sit in my car for a while and let the stiffened muscles relax for a bit. I left them settle themselves after being put to use. And in those quiet moments, before I’m quite ready to start the trek back home, I wonder. I wonder at my hands, as I’ve shown. I wonder at the graves I have yet to photograph or get to know. I wonder at the things I’ve seen – like yesterday, I saw a hawk soaring above me for 15 minutes – that are outside my normal frame of reference. But mostly, I wonder if there are other people out there like me. I wonder if there are other people who are aware of the heartache and sacrifice that these acts actually are. And I wonder if the people who make noises about being interested in what I do would give it the respect it so honestly deserves.

On days like yesterday and days still yet to come, I sit in my car and I smile with joy at the broken nails, the new wounds, and the dirt encrusting my hands. I smile for the devotional act I can do and willingly do. I smile and laugh and relax. I smile for all the things but nothing so much more than the physical reminder of what I do and why I do it.

This is what grave-tending is.

Procession of Sekhmet, 01/09/2013.

A while back, I was thinking about how Het-heru has a big festival in which she processes around places and then goes home. This is actually kind of common in ancient Egyptian festivals. There were quite a few where traveling somewhere was the point in the festival. There are over forty – I lost count actually – with the word “procession” or “processional” in the title. This doesn’t include things like the Opet Festival or any other ones where the icons of the gods were taken out of their kar-shrines to go visiting. And this got me wondering how modern Kemetics would emulate these types of rites and festivities. On the face of it, walking around the yard or the home seem appropriate, right?

But, as I was thinking about this whole thing this morning, trying to figure out what I would do for Sekhmet’s processional celebrations tonight… I realized that just walking around the yard and home seemed a little boring. The point of the procession is beyond me. I don’t have any ancient sources on festivals celebrated in Sekhmet’s name so I can’t quite say what they were processing to or what they were processing for. I can only try to recreate things as best I could and, you know, wondering around a place that may be seen on a daily basis with a little icon to hand seemed odd. And that’s when it hit me: Why not photo bomb my house with Sekhmet in those photos?

The idea was bold.

The idea was crazy.

The idea was weird.

And that’s exactly how I celebrated tonight’s festivities.

Let's get going, shall we? We have a lot of venturing to do.

Let’s get going, shall we? We have a lot of venturing to do.

A nice little visit between Papa Legba and Sekhmet. This ended with PL reminding me he deserved chocolate since I am now working.

I don’t see why he has to tell me he needs chocolate…

Oh, hai, sister-self. I see you directly across from me, but let's have an in-person visit, shall we?

Oh, hai, sister-self. I see you directly across from me, but let’s have an in-person visit, shall we?

Yeah... hi, Aset. In the kitchen and... no room for me.

Yeah… hi, Aset. In the kitchen and… no room for me.

Hm. They seem to be intent on attacking the child in this cartoon... this is appropriate for children nowadays? What happened to wooden lion toys?

Hm. They seem to be intent on attacking the child in this cartoon… this is appropriate for children nowadays? What happened to wooden lion toys?



Oh, my. A bit of a collector, are we? (That isn't even a fraction of TH's video game paraphernalia collection...)

Oh, my. A bit of a collector, are we? (That isn’t even a fraction of TH’s video game paraphernalia collection…)

And what are we playing here? Billiards?

And what are we playing here? Billiards?

I'll school your ass!

I’ll school your ass!

And let's bond with the child as this will be his job one day...

And let’s bond with the child as this will be his job one day…

Nope. There is absolutely no steak in here for a decent meal.

Nope. There is absolutely no steak in here for a decent meal.

It's time to freak out the barking creatures kept around here.

It’s time to freak out the barking creatures kept around here.

Hello, Hekate! I see you all the time. It's nice to visit you, face-to-face.

Hello, Hekate! I see you all the time. It’s nice to visit you, face-to-face.

And back home again. Adventures, finished.

And back home again. Adventures, finished.

Worshipping… Honoring… Working With… Which One Is It?

Around Yule, an entry (linked below) went up and a link was posted onto Tumblr. This spurred a lot of commentary, most of it being in line with one another’s viewpoints. Obviously, not everyone felt the same way but it was a good dialogue. There was just so much information and input from various quarters – Kemetic, witches, Asatru, Hellenic, etc – that it was really something I enjoyed reading all the responses to. I mean, it’s pretty hard to get everyone to either agree on anything when you come from such opposing backgrounds or at least are able to have a good conversation about things that don’t turn into Snarkville or out-and-out name-calling. So, while I didn’t really add my two-cents to the post on Tumblr, I thought I would go ahead and start talking about it since, you know, I’m a loquacious motherfucker and need my opinion heard all around the world.

I’ve noticed a trend in certain circles where people tend to abhor the use of the word “worship” when it comes to what they do with their deities. I legitimately don’t understand this except in my own experience, of which I’ll get into in a bit. The thing is that I’ve been pondering the feelings in the pagan and polytheist communities where people shy from this word. In looking up the meaning behind the word, I don’t get a very clear picture to this conundrum either. I’ve looked to this whole thing on the basis of my own workings with the Christian hemisphere though and I often wonder if the disuse of the word in pagan and polytheistic circles stems from what we used to do when we were Christians (or those of us who used to be anyway). In other instances, where we have atheists coming into paganism, the dissociation of the word is almost a foregone conclusion: a holdover from previously held atheistic beliefs, perhaps. But those of us who come from a Christian, Jewish, or Muslim background used to use this word when we would work with that particular deity/deities, so what gives?

I honestly don’t know. I cannot comment. I know that I tended to think of the word, itself, in a negative light as an atheist. It felt like it was a type of oppression, perhaps, forced upon the “small folk” from some unknown, unseen deity from upon high. But, why else could people from other religions, like Christianity, want to keep away from just such a word? Why is it such a hotbed that can cause such angry, vitriolic sputum when discussed? People escape from it by using terms like “working with,” “walking beside,” “honoring,” and “devotion.” Each of these words has a general connotation where some sort of respect is being aimed at the deities in question; so why can’t we just call it worship and leave it that way?

Well, fortunately, each path is intrinsically unique to the practitioner in question. So, you know, what works for me isn’t going to work for Devo or Helms or anyone else I work with, talk to, or know of.

Now, I’ve also linked below to someone else’s, earlier, foray into this very topic. And on that entry, I did comment. I’m going to reproduce my original comment here so that people can see how much I’ve changed opinions over the months since Devo made that post in May. I said, Honestly, I think “walking beside X deity” is the one that I prefer the most. It also goes hand-in-hand with the Turnpike analogy I use all the time. Well, wow. I walk beside my deities… or I used to. But, the thing is that things change and opinions change. And I’ve had a lot of new experiences since then that have put what I’m about to go into in perspective. So, before anyone lambasts me for changing my mind, let’s just remember that when it comes to this religious path, working in absolutes is a sure-fire way to get called a “fluff bunny” or “flaky.”

The thing is that over the months that I’ve been looking into all of this and thinking about what exactly my relationship happens to be, I realized something about my ‘walking beside’ approach. It caused a lot of fucking problems for me when it came to my path. It made me seem like I was an equal in the eyes of the gods and I don’t think this is particularly true. I’m not some lesser being, either, but I’m not exactly on par with them. I don’t have the same know-how, age, or wisdom behind my actions. When I work with my heka and when I perform magic, things could easily screw up along the way. And while the same could be said for the gods, they’ve done these songs and dances longer than I have, so they have knowledge that I do not. They can easily find a way to bypass any loopholes or mistakes in the whole experience where I do not.

So, while Devo remarks often that we are as divine as any of the gods, and I agree with this, I think we’re also smaller beings. I’m as divine as my gods because the same deity made them as made me, with a little different ingredients perhaps. And that makes me a smaller being because the ingredients were different and so, maybe, the amount of divinity in me isn’t nearly as large as that which went into the creating of the gods. Of course, everyone else’ mileage may vary on this and everyone else has their own two-cents to put in. That’s just my thoughts on it. But the point I’m trying to get at is that when I was so busy ‘walking beside’ my gods, I was having issues with our relationships because I was as awesome as they!

Except, I’m not.

The gods have made mistakes – anyone recall Sekhmet trying to destroy the entire planet because she was drunk on bloodlust? But they’ve also had many more years to learn from those mistakes. I haven’t been around nearly as long. And while walking beside a deity is possible in different realms, it isn’t always something we are able to do. I think this is why my relationship with Hetharu went downhill so quickly. She came in to teach me to respect my sexual nature, which I have done nothing but deny, deny, deny. I walked beside her on that path and every time she tried to teach me, I shut her down, plugging my ears with my fingers and said, “I KNOW ALL THIS ALREADY.” And while I did, technically, know what she wanted to tell me, I didn’t know how to put it into practice. So, really, what I should have been doing was walking slightly behind as opposed to beside.

One of the things that really helped me to get all of this in order was when Papa Legba entered my life. When it comes to working with the lwa, there is nothing more than ‘service’ that can be used to describe the relationships inherent therein. I provide support and aid; I provide the activities, accommodations, maintenance, and energy necessary for the lwa to manifest in my life. When you start working with the lwa, one of the things you really get hammered home is how much they require everything you do for them on a daily basis. This is why when Papa Legba and I got into a fight over what he was or was not doing on my behalf, and when I said I would stop giving him his offerings, he freaked out. There could have been other reasons for this, of course, but a large part is that these lwa cannot manifest in our lives without these services that we, as servants, provide. And it was the working with Papa Legba, the Ghede, and Carrefour that made me realize where I stood in regard to my varying relationships with my OTHERS™.

I am in service to Papa Legba and the Ghede.

With Hekate entering my life, things took another kind of shift in what was going on. I’ve always felt that my relationships with my Kemetic deities were concrete and beyond anything I may or may not do in this realm. However, with Hekate, she came into my life with a specific purpose in mind that I offered to her. In exchange for aiding me with what I requested, I pay homage to her in my home. I give her offerings. I have a little space for her set up as both a shrine to her and a working altar for magical endeavors. I think because I am very intent on the outcome of the shadow work that we are doing together, this makes my relationship with her more along the lines of a friendship. I do tend to view her on more equal terms than I have with any of my other gods, including those moments when I was busy ‘walking beside’ Hetharu and Sekhmet. (You’d be surprised some of the jokes she tells when we’re traveling the astral together.) But, I’m still very aware that this is a being that could come in and mess up my day if she so desired.

I honor Hekate.

My relationships with my Kemetic deities change on a very regular basis. I cannot even begin to quantify them all in words. Words to me and in some cases, specifically Sekhmet, fail when I try to explain how it is for us. In regards to Hetharu, while I was so busy being ‘equal’ to her and failing what she wanted of me, she has moved to a household deity. I honor her and I give her service in varying little ways on a daily basis. But, I do not worship her. With Aset, I work with her in regards to magical endeavors and in some cases, we work together on projects in the astral realm. Aside from this, I honor her with baking as often as I am able to bake something worthwhile. I do not worship her.

But, Sekhmet… In this, I have to use the word worship. I cannot convey, properly, anything else that we do together or the relationship that we have without using this ‘dirty word.’ I worship her in her totality, from a being that could destroy me to a being who could heal me to a being who has shaped my life in mysterious ways. She is as much a part of me as I am a part of her, if you understand what I am trying to say. And the only way I can even remotely begin to convey how grateful for her in my life is to worship her.


Relevant Posts

  1. W Is For Worship by Dw3t-Hthr.
  2. Working With Gods by Devo.

Thanksgiving, Polytheist Style.

Before we get to the meat and potatoes here, I should inform people who I had a regular, American thanksgiving. It was good. We spent the day at TH’s aunt’s house. We got to Skype with her son who is living in Japan as a teacher. (I think he’s teaching English, but he may be teaching Japanese? I’m not sure. His major was Japanese something-or-other.) However, I don’t really see the point of the holiday aside from getting together with your family and eating a turkey. I don’t find it very spiritual and I don’t find it much use aside from eating turkey. It’s the only time of year that I eat turkey.

Also, this thanksgiving polytheist… thing fell in my lap… today.

This morning, I awoke from a very odd dream. I don’t normally dream about my OTHERS™. Or, if I do this on a regular basis, I never recall them. When I do wake up with them in my memory banks, there tends to be a large reason behind it, usually a warning of some kind. What was even more fascinating was that I dreamed of Hekate for the first time.

I was at her altar in my home, but it was outside. Or maybe, there was no roof above the alcove I have her table in. (And that makes sense since I want to try and find a scarf with stars on it, as pictured in this image of Nut to tack to my ceiling.) Anyway, I was kneeling in front of it and I was being incredibly formal as I made offerings. I couldn’t see the offerings, but it was definitely me, kneeling, and formally giving her offerings of some kind or another. I was also speaking formal words, possibly some of the ones I’ve been reading about in Hekate: Liminal Rites by Sorita D’Este. Again, I don’t remember what words I was speaking or what I was offering, but the dream was important.

I’m pretty sure Hekate was trying to tell me something. I figured I would do something big and bad ass for her on the new moon.

Today, however, is the first of the month of Sf-Bdt according to my Kemetic calendar. This is also the first of the new season of Peret, or winter. I knew I was going to do something in commemoration of this. Since I’m not huge on festivals and big-huge things, I try to at least bake something at the start of the new month and I’ll go a little more extra on things when it’s the start of a new season. But over all, I’m really not a huge ritual, celebration person. I like being the low-key, lay person I’m pretending to be. Of course, it’s funny how you assume or figure things will end up in one way but they really end up in another. Today was about giving thanks for the things that I do have.

You see, things haven’t been very well over here. On Friday, I go back to being unemployed and I’m pretty sure I can’t file for unemployment benefits because I’m only a temporary employee. After this, I don’t know where money is going to be coming from. We receive TH’s miniscule weekly allotment from his unemployment, but even with me trimming the fat on certain bills, it’s not enough to pay for everything. I figure that if I could get cash assistance from the state in the tune of, say, three hundred dollars, we should be able to survive… as long as we also get food assistance. So, suffice it to say that I’ve been wicked depressed and moody. It’s at the point where I’m cleaning like a fiend, taking non-cleaning out on my family members (even though it’s not their fault that they didn’t do something, but I feel like it is because I’m angry at the world), and rearranging my entire house to boot. Well, parts of my house. I’m sobbing internally at the thought that I won’t be able to buy anyone anything for Christmas, again.

Since my daily rune pull today was othala, I decided to take this as a sign that I should be thankful for what I do have.

Sure, I don’t have a job or won’t in the near future, but I have to have faith that I will be provided for by the universe. As easy as it is for me to slip into a deep, black depression over all of this, I really can’t. I have a four-year-old and a twenty-four year old who relies on me. I have cleaning and laundry to do. I have the ability to ask for help from numerous people and I will receive something. I still have some money in savings so maybe Christmas and bills won’t go completely to shit. My car is still functioning even if she’s not at tip-top shape. So, while I’m liable to be miserable and depressed again in the upcoming week or two, TODAY, there’s no fucking room.

And I’m thankful for that, too.

To get the party started, I went to my local Goodwill and purchased some items.

I bought a wooden bowl, two small tumblers, and a pretty picture with flowers on it.

I had actually gone in there with the intention of finding a small, but wider bowl for Hekate. She was going to get pomegranates when I did the thing for her, but I was hoping to have a bowl that had a wider lip than the one I have. No dice on that, obviously. The wooden bowl was purchased for Papa Legba. At a future point, I’m hoping to paint it red and get a black paint-pen to inscribe his veve into the middle. Since I can’t afford a real calabash bowl, like they do in Haiti, but I can afford the fifty cents this bowl cost me… Yeah. He was all for it. The two glass tumblers are for Hetharu and Sekhmet. They’ve recently requested oils for offerings. Right now, they’ve got regular old extra virgin olive oil, but I think they really want scented ones. The picture was for Hekate. She likes plants, right?

Before I went home, I decided to stop at the grocery store. I had AN ITCH and I couldn’t go home. So, in a half-daze, I wandered around the grocery store and picked up cheap items for tonight’s dinner and for any of my OTHERS™. The only one who didn’t cost me anything, oddly enough, was Papa Legba. (Although, he almost talked me into another red candle in a glass holder. ALMOST.) Hekate sent me to the fruit section for a pomegranate and then I went zooming down to flowers. They had a pretty little bouquet on special for five dollars. I was shocked by her choice, though; oranges? I think it’s a last lingering feels regarding the end of the autumn, but who knows what’s going through a person’s head when they– OH. You know. I read something about her getting lilies from someone as an offering and guess what kind of flower is in the bouquet? I get it.

The next step was to notice that I was being trolled by the land spirit.

That tree is the tree I focus on when I’m working with the land spirit, so it IS the land spirit in a sense. The leaves from that tree are all leading up to just below my living room window.

It’s the full moon tonight and that was when I decided I would leave my monthly offerings for the land spirit. I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t leave them until it was cold and dark outside. But, later, I went out and did leave a diced apple and some kumquats for the land spirit. Tomorrow before work, I’m going to leave a slice of bread and the big fucking rock I plucked up from one of my local cemeteries. I also talked, briefly, with the land spirit today about how things are going really badly in my life (again). I got the overwhelming feeling from it that I needed to stop worrying so damn much. I guess I’m getting it from all over: the gods, the lwa, and the universe will provide, so knock it off. It was nice to talk with it, though, since I always think that winter = land spirit communication being remote. INCORRECT, SIR.

So, after a lot of cleaning and generally annoying labor, I went around and began baking. If nothing else, when I celebrate a new month, I will bake something for Hetharu. However, I got the feeling that my baking was more in line with a Certain Other Feminine Deity than the one living with Sekhmet. I’m just getting trolled by all the female deities… Of course, I have to admit to everyone here that I’m not surprised. I know that Aset’s statue was in that dream I had about Mut a while back, so I was kind of expecting it. I’m just… I hope she likes small offerings in my kitchen. I’ve been putting her off for a while and she’s been patiently waiting. Apparently, patience has run out. And I’m pretty sure that she’s here in the FOREVER WAY, like Sekhmet. So, this should be weird and interesting. And it explains so much shit…

But that’s a post for a different day.

Continuing on.

So, after I did my baking chores, I went around and started making my thanksgiving dinner. Of course, it was small and tiny. I can’t afford big and expansive. And besides, that’s kind of the point, to me, in a thanksgiving meal. It’s my family sitting down and enjoying what I make. It’s the three of us lauding my cooking abilities (of which are good, okay, but I always wait to see how people react when I cook, all nervous like, because what if I kill someone by accident?). It’s the three of us arguing over who gets the last dollop of milk in a cup. It’s the three of us being a family.

And of course, before we all sat down, all of my OTHERS™ were summoned to their respective places.

He wanted rice, but he got orzo in a garlic and butter sauce. We argued for five minutes about why he needed a fork. Obviously, he won.

Water, oil, cookies, and steak for the two of them. They were also given more items on their altar, per requested.

Flowers in the background, pomegranate in the foreground, and Grey Goose and diet Coke. She was also given a rearrange and clean.

So, that, ladies and gentleman, is how a polytheist can get down with the giving of thanks.