The Break.

You ever just get so tired of all the nattering going on around you that you just want to throw your hands in the air and scream, “fuck it,” while you stomp around like a child? Or, you ever just get so fed up with everything that you finally realize if you don’t do something, possibly crazy and definitely unintended, you’ll end up wrapped in those hug-yourself coats for a few years? Or, maybe, you just get so sick and tired of the constant background commentary going on around you that you finally come to the crushing realization that you are so far off your intended course and you don’t know how to get back there? Yeah, I’ve been there. Hell, I’m still there. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get back to where I want to go, but I know that I need some time – a few weeks, a few months, a few years, the rest of my life – so that I can at least try to choreograph my movements more precisely…

I’ve been pretty tired regarding all religious items for the last few months. Everything that I have been building up to and creating had been jettisoned to the backseat in since, oh, around February or thereabouts. It was something that would leave me awake late at night, while I stared at the ceiling unable to sleep. All of the things I’ve been doing lately have all been those surreal and frightening experiences relating to my godphone or adventures on the astral. Everything was suffering because of this, not least of all me. I have to admit that when it comes to constantly having some really tough fucking conversations with beings who are bigger than you are, it can take a lot out of you. Never mind the addition of running around on the astral and the absolute desecration it can have on my energy reserves/spoon management. I have to say that since my godphone got really loud this year, everything has suffered. It’s felt very much like I’ve been trudging along and just trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy as my Kemetic practice slammed on the breaks and halted in its steps.

Every post I’ve written regarding the whole “doing as opposed to thinking” or the entries where I harp on how we need to live in ma’at or the entries when I go on about how we need to remind ourselves that our religion is an orthopraxy… Every single one of those posts in recent months would rear their heads at me on those nights where I would toss and turn because of religious matters. It was like a poker of guilt had begun to wedge itself at the back of my mind until I found myself unable to do anything but ponder how much I was putting off or not doing. There are so many varied aspects to my practice, specifically relating to the orthopraxy, that I try to do. But with each step further into the astral, each step further into questioning my sanity, I began to feel like I was failing all over the place. I knew that I needed a break, some quiet time, and figure out what in the world the next step with all of this was.

The thing is about asking for a time out is that you may not necessarily get it. As many parents are wont to say to their children, “the worst they can do is say no.” And in this case, it was something that was a little more important than asking if you could borrow someone’s Hot Wheels or asking to go along on a shopping trip to the mall. I was asking for myself, specifically, and a deep-seated need to step away from everything that was peripheral. I needed to jump back into the foundations of what my practice is supposed to be – laity – and shunt things forward on that. If I’m legitimate about wanting to create a layperson practice specifically for other people in my shoes, then I need to focus on what the hallmarks of that laity will be so I can explain it to others. And frankly, I’m having a hard time focusing entirely on work nowadays with all the head crap going on inside of me. There was no way I was going to be able to adequately focus on what I needed to without some form of, “I need some indefinite time off while I work on this.”

I have to admit that I’ve felt completely wrung out in recent months. I know a lot of it has to do with my personal life and work life. Neither of those two items have been particularly … smooth lately. It takes a lot out of you. But, even with all of the crap going on when I was unemployed or I was having troubles with my family, I had the ability to throw myself gung-ho into my religious practice. I knew that while things may been kind of crappy in other arenas that at least my religious practice was where I needed it to be. And it would always just be there to help me pick up the pieces with everything else sucking so badly. However, since I started working I’ve noticed a severe downtrend in my religious life. While I have attempted to keep a balance, it was like the only answer was to listen to the godphone messages and to have those conversations and to go to the astral more frequently. Bitterly, I would give in to each impulse to discuss, to go, and ten times more bitterly, I would come from those sojourns knowing that I was failing somehow, somewhere, in some way…

Whether or not my OTHERS™ saw it as that is irrelevant here. I know for a fact that they were quite all right with my going off to do the things. However, I was not all right with this trade off. I know that it works in some peoples’ practices, but not mine. I’m supposed to be creating a fluid practice based on laity for all and sundry to pick and choose from. I’m supposed to be the keeper of the faith – the person who tells everyone, “Hey, yeah, it sucks but you have faith in your gods, right? So keep it going.” I’ve still been sending those messages, but I no longer feel like I’m as full of faith as I used to be. And damn it to fucking hell, that fucking bothers me. That’s the whole point – to me and my thoughts – in this shit, “have faith.” And if I’m having some severe troubles with the “have faith” message I try to pass around, then I think there’s a huge fucking problem. No matter what my OTHERS™ may think or feel on the subject, this is about me and what the hell I had initially wanted when I entered this whole religious sojourn.

So, I asked for a break.

Not in so many words.

How do you convey to your gods that you can’t do this anymore? How can you really just sit down, look them in the eye, and say, “I need a time out. Please put me in the corner.” That statement makes it sound so, so easy and it’s just really not. After years and years of wanting this whole kind of experience – and getting it – I was asking for them to kind of take it back. And it wasn’t like I was saying, “for right this second” or “for the next few months.” I was just thinking that I needed a huge break. The volume was too high and the words were too painful and there was so much fucking chattering from every fucking corner of my religious life that it was just… eating at me. So, without using words and without really getting into the details here, I kind of surged my feels at all of them. After writing my post about the godphone mess, I just felt all of these horrible, awful things relating to my practice and just kind of made them realize what the hell was going on with me. Why things were slowing down; why I felt like I had no energy; why everything was too difficult to do besides sitting on my ass when I got home from work… I just laid it all out there without thinking or even talking or even asking, but just feeling. That night I dreamed I went to a party with every single one of my gods.

The lwa were conspicuous only in their absence.

I didn’t really understand what it was I was seeing in this dream. All day, I thought about it. I wanted it to mean as a kind of like “farewell, bon voyage” kind of thing. That’s what I was hoping. When I got home from work, I decided I needed to at least ask if that was the case. I pulled cards to clarify. It felt like if I tried to contact them via the godphone thing that I was really just saying, “kidding!” And besides, I had used my cards for so long and had relied on them so heavily. And then in recent months, you know since February or so, I stopped paying attention to them outside of the general deck I use for everyone but me. I just… It’s like this quintessential need to go back to the “simpler times” we hear old fogeys talk about. Yeah, you know… it was exactly like that.

There’s something really meditative, for me, when it comes to reading cards. So, I was pleased with myself when I very easily went running to something that I knew, for sure. I mean, yeah. It’s always possible that I could be screwing up the interpretation. And in same vein, maybe some netjeri takes a hold of what it is I pull and fucks up everything. But, there is just something soothing about the control of being able to, well, see the future for a bit. During the entire reading, as I went through the meaning behind each card, I kept getting this feeling like I had a year to see this reading through to its completion. And you know what? I was pretty okay with that time frame. A whole year to get through whatever it was the cards were telling me? That seemed like a pretty good deal, all said and done.

The gist of that reading? I had to focus on the foundation of my practice. I had to go back to the beginning, sort of. There was more to it than that. The cards all hinted at the return of my energy and a return of my faith, which is an excellent idea if you ask me. But it also told me that it was time to start applying all that I’ve learned, from the books and from others and from various trial and error, to get this cohesive unit of a practice going. It also reminded me that I have a strong intuition – which is where I get the ability to Tarot so effectively, if you ask me – and that no matter how much I cry, later, about taking this back, I had to keep going and trust my intuition. And frankly, unless my gods are planning on smiting me down all wroth like, then I don’t think I really care right now. What matters is that I’m getting what I wanted.

After a year or more of constantly being told I have no choice in anything that gets thrown my way this is… well, it’s a novel experience.

It’s like asking for a lollipop and getting an entire chocolate cake for dessert instead.

It’s time to get back to the foundation of what it is I’ve been intending on building from the get-go. It’s time to remind myself that I am full of faith. It is time to stop worrying so heavily about whether I’m normal or insane. It’s time to get back to it. Now, let’s just see where we should begin…


One of the things people tend to forget is that not everyone is cut out for the position they want.

As a non-religious example, let’s take me. I have a lot of skills that I bring to the table when I am going on a job interview. I have had over a decade of experience in the customer service arena, which means that I have cobbled together a lot of various skills that doesn’t exactly equal to what every customer service position I apply to is looking for. I am kind of a Jane-of-all-Trades in this regard. I can do a lot of intense project work considering my overwhelming obsessive-compulsive disorder; I can answer the phone like nobody’s business; I can make sure 95% of all customers are happy at all times (unless they’re one of those people who are terminal assholes); I can take dictation; I can type over 100 words per minute; I can work heavily with most Microsoft programs; I can take notes; I can do a shit ton of things. However, this doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily cut out for the $20/hr position I’ve been applying to for years with [Name Redacted] because I may not have one little item that they require (a degree, if you’re curious). However, this doesn’t mean that I’m not cut out for all of the other jobs I’ve applied to over the years. This just happens to mean that the [Name Redacted] is not going to understand how fucking fantastic I am at my job and how much joy I could bring their company and their customers. It’s all right – shit happens. (Though it pisses me off whenever I get one of those automated rejection E-mails from them.)

One of the other things people tend to forget is that not everyone is willing to take the shit they’d get just because they can handle the position.

Case in point, there were numerous jobs that I was fully qualified for and would have gotten with very little push on my half when I was unemployed. However, most of the jobs in question that would have hired me without even an interview were jobs that I knew would put me over the edge or would not pay me what I am worth. They would expect me to take a sizable pay cut from my last position to the sizable cut I would take to my unemployment benefits just to have a job under my belt. While I am all for remaining employed until you can find another position (unless circumstances force the hand, as they did in my situation), I am also all for not living on the streets. And with as much experience as I have in the realm of customer service, there is no way that I was willing to destroy my self-worth by taking a position at a measly nine dollars an hour. Not to mention, I actually work to live on my own with a family of three, so that much money an hour wasn’t even going to pay for rent each month, never mind the rest of the requisite bills like electricity and gas. So, I ignored those jobs and kept right the hell on looking.

What does this have to do with laity, though?

Over the last five years, I have developed a lot of skills in my personal practice. I have developed really “awesome” things that have helped me and have assisted me in helping others as they get their feet underneath them and begin to toddle off in whatever direction they are looking towards. In that time, I have found myself constantly thinking about what it meant to enter into the priesthood and I have come to the conclusion that many people tend to think that after a while of doing the layperson thing, you get enough skillsets underneath your religious belt to enter the “awesome” that is the priesthood. I’m not quite sure what all other people in the polytheist communities view as skillsets “required” of entering the priesthood, but I have a few of them, I think. I have a working godphone, so that should zoom me to the list, too. I’ve been doing this for five years, so that should zoom me to the top of the list, too. I appear particularly devoted to the netjer with whom I work, so that should also add me to that list. The thing is that just because I have developed all of these various skills that may seem required to enter the whole priesthood shtick, it doesn’t mean that I am qualified to actually head in that direction.

If Dory's advice isn't the best advice, especially in polytheism, then what is?

If Dory’s advice isn’t the best advice, especially in polytheism, then what is?

Over the last five years, I have remained purposely “below” the station that I could probably end up in. I knew that with all of the skills I had, I could do the job. However, I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle the intensity of the relationships nor the requirements for those relationships. Being a priest is something that is very intense, very personal, and very spoon-eating in the Kemetic hemisphere. I’m not quite sure how much devotion it requires in other polytheistic arenas, but many of the Kemetics I speak with discuss it with a certain amount of gravity that is unexplainable via a text post. There is just something extremely difficult in explaining when it comes to the level of piety and devotion one is required in Kemeticism when they decide to enter the priesthood. I take a lot of shit now from my gods; there was no way I could handle and remain who I am, with a specific end goal in mind, by entering something as hoity-toity as “the priesthood.” So, I’ve kept my self-worth in this situations and continued to do the “just keep swimming” bit a la Dory.

The thing is that for the last five years, I think I’ve been building up to the priesthood thing. And I have to say that I’m not even remotely interested. I’m devout. I can do a ritual in five minutes or less, with no prep. I can pray. I can sing [badly] to the gods. I can do all the things that a lot of people – me, specifically, here; I don’t know what all other think goes into the priesthood shtick – would do, are doing or have done for their gods in the guise of priests. But, with all that ability, I have to say that I’m not interested. It was never the roll of subservience to the gods that I was actively searching for, no matter what I was thinking or saying at the time prior to this moment right now, but it was the actions that I wanted to build for future generations. It’s not that I want to be a mouth piece for Sekhmet or Aset or Hetheru or Djehuty and have people come to me in that guise. I want them to come to me because I’m building a fulfilling practice that doesn’t need all the extras involved or all of the intensity involved. I want people to look at what I am doing, based on being a nobody with nothing but some faith, and say, “That’s it. That’s what I want. I want to do that, too.”

Since the recent round of discussions about laity on Tumblr and on other blogs, I’ve been thinking intensely about what it is about my practice that may scream out that I’m more than I am presenting to the world. I think a lot of people look at what I can do – the godphone, the astral, the things like that – and see me as a bit more than I really am. I don’t think I ever came right out and ever said otherwise, but I can do some things that maybe some other laypeople can’t and so, I get lumped in where I don’t belong.

And since that recent round, I’ve been reading and re-reading this post by HBW over and over again. I have it bookmarked in my toolbar so that I can get to it easily for future reading. I keep coming back to this entry because everything she has said in that entry was something that I could agree with, minus the too hot thing because it was balmy last week. And it got me thinking about laity in more detail and to more extent than anything else that has been said on the subject. I have been reading this entry because it’s important. Not only is this beautiful person saying, “Hey, I’m not like all that, you know. I’m just me and I do things quietly and you may not know it about me, but I’m a lay person, too.” And I’ve been reading this entry because it dawned on me that she’s right: there aren’t that many open examples out there. And as much as I say, “I AM THIS THING,” my examples are lacking.

It’s time to stand up and say, “Laity is important.” Or, maybe not just say it but to scream it from the roof tops of all the pagan and polytheistic hemispheres.

While I am just a drop in the Kemetic layperson bucket, I’ve realized that I need to start talking about my practice more (again). I also realized that I need to begin to be the layperson example. While Kemetics are wired a little bit differently, I think, than many of the other pagans and polytheists out there in the various communities, I think we need to start making it clear that many of us aren’t “special” or “priests.” I took an impromptu poll on this subject in my personal Kemetic group the other day. Some of the Kemetics you may know don’t consider themselves as such: Devo, Zenith, Nellethiel, Joan, Sard, Helms, Senneferet, and various others. These are all bloggers that you have probably come across in Kemetic searches or may know from their companion Tumblogs. And each one of the people whom I consider part of my community has said, with few exceptions, that they belong to that “layperson” aspect that not too many people hear from or see from. So, while each of these bloggers may not be overt about it and may not make you think, “This person is just like me, only Kemetic,” or “this person isn’t a priest,” they are exactly like you and HBW and Jason Pitzl-Waters from The Wild Hunt.

But, how they convey these topics isn’t the point in this post. The point in this post is how I convey this topic. And I am going to start conveying from every fiber of being, as well as all ongoing blog entries, that what I do is for anybody and everybody. Just like Jane Ancient Egyptian Doe, living in one of the 42 nomes all those millennia ago, I am going to build that practice. I am going to be just another nome person, with a family, who maintains relationships with the gods in my home. I am going to attempt to facilitate the practice of just a no-name nobody from here on out, with more focus and intent on that no-name nobody that I am emulating (hopefully) from long ago. And hopefully, everyone else out in the wide Internet world will begin to realize that it’s the laypeople that matter because, frankly, without us, who the fuck cares what the priests have got to say? And frankly, without us tiny little people, maybe, just maybe, the gods wouldn’t be as prevalent as they are today. And maybe just maybe, without us around, things would be a hell of a lot more boring and a lot less diverse than they are today.

Hi. My name is Satsekhem. I am a layperson of the Kemetic persuasion and I am striving towards a functional practice, heavy on the laity, for anyone and anybody who is interested.

The Godphone.

I have long days where I come home from work, sit down, and peruse Tumblr. Actually, I spend a lot of time perusing Tumblr. I end up trying to follow the threads of conversations that I miss throughout the day. I don’t tend to speak up regarding things a lot of the time because I can (and do) come off as fairly gruff. There are times where I actually mean to be that much of an asshole and other times when I really don’t. But, to be honest, a lot of the reason why I keep my trap shut is because I don’t necessarily agree with anyone who has weighed in on a hot topic and just don’t have the spoons to discuss it with anyone. But, there’s been this ongoing debate, jumping from highly intelligent to the overwhelmingly stupid, regarding the concept of the “godphone.” While I don’t deny that I have one or that having one is really all that it’s cracked up to be, I’m utterly mystified by some peoples’ views on those of us who have them. It’s like… sometimes, I feel like the people without see us as some trendy club or clique that gets into all the ritzy places without paying a cover charge and they seethe inwardly in jealousy.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole thing about having a godphone.

And you know, I have to tell you that it really isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

I don’t know if the reason why I think it’s horrible is the same as other people. And frankly, I don’t care if other people agree with me. I can tell you why I think it sucks the biggest, fattest, hairiest, old toe you ever laid your eyes on. I think it sucks because it makes me doubt my sanity every day. It’s not the interruptions on a daily basis by beings from elsewhere. It’s not the fact that I feel a need to do this thing and to do it right this second that makes this the worst thing imaginable. It has to do with the intense conversations that end up happening in whatever little space within me or outside of me (whichever) that makes me think I am one thousand percent insane. It’s like hearing voices or seeing things and no one else can verify these things and you are just trying to get through your really crappy, mediocre life and then it’s coupled with all this extra.

Every morning, in some capacity, I assure myself that I am delusional and making shit up.

And every night, I come home and I feel really badly for thinking that way.

Every morning, I tell myself that I won’t have any conversations with anyone or anything about anyone or anything.

And every night, I find myself a complete liar because I was so busy chatting it up with insert deity on my ride into work.

Every morning, in some capacity, I explain to myself that I am going to pray to the gods and not listen for a response.

And every night, I come home and cry because I failed whatever I have told myself and made me doubt my sanity that much more.

I remember the days when I wanted a godphone. I laugh to myself about them now. Those days when I was really new and just really wanted to hear my gods for once, for a single second. Those days weren’t all that long ago. I can remember despairing heavily about ever hearing them. I can remember the days when I stared at the computer screen, moodily, as I read forum entry after blog entry about people who could talk to their gods. I remember every aspect of that jealousy and how much it ate me raw. I used whatever I could in an effort to get through to my gods and to try and hear them. Part of the reason I have as many [currently] unused Tarot decks as I do now is because I needed them to try and get glimmers into what certain deities wanted. I don’t need them as much anymore, obviously, but I can still remember staring at the cards in frustration and angst while I hoped beyond hope that one day, I would hear something more than an intuitive thought or a feeling. I remember those days and frankly, I miss them a lot. I look back at those days and I think to myself now, what the fuck were you thinking?

As each day passes and I fail at something that I tell myself I’m going to do relating to the mythic godphone, I end up thinking back to those days from not that long ago. And I remember how it felt to just sit around and angst. I do the same thing now. Nothing has really changed with this magical “fix it” that I saw others having. In fact, I think that there are things that are worse now. I’m so sure that I’m delusional that I’ve seriously considered just committing myself into an institution. There are other days where I don’t say a damn word to anyone about anything for fear that they’ll suddenly see a message on my forehead that says, “CRAY-CRAY.”

But as I’ve sat around and read the posts of people with godphones and those without, I’ve come to conclude that maybe having one isn’t really all that great for other reasons too. The fact that we can listen and know what the gods want at any given moment can be kind of shitty sometimes. We know what they want and so we kind of lose the soft side we had to our religion, way back in the beginning. While there was a lot of crying and harrumphing in the beginning, as there is still some now, it felt like my religion was much more… pure, maybe, or at least interesting to me on some level because there was always something else around the corner. It was exhilarating because I never really knew if I was doing what the gods wanted. I hoped so and with each passing day that I wasn’t struck down with a crippling depression or a cripple fallow time then I knew I was doing something right, somewhere. Now, it’s not that I don’t get a fallow time but that I don’t even get a break. I get dreams, I get conversations, and I get fully bodied apparitions (I guess). I get the whole fucking you-be-crazy package. And with that package, things don’t feel as good anymore as they use to do.

I’ve thought, seriously, about shutting the whole fucking thing down. I turned it on, somehow, so maybe I could close the door?

I’ve read entries, though, where people have said that’s not a viable option. I believe it was Scylla who said that once you open that door up then there’s no way to shut it. I’m pretty sure I’m paraphrasing and I’m almost positive I’m doing a shitty job at that. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. But, I think back to those comments, not just from her but from others as well, and I think, “Well, why not? I can shut my front door and lock it. I could maybe do the same thing here.”

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the conversations I have on my ride into work with the gods. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the moments in the Lake of Fire with Sekhmet or the Duat with Anup or anything. Those times together are very nice and precious. But, I honestly worry that not only is this screwing with my head and with my sanity, but I’m also pretty sure it’s pushing my practice into a direction I don’t want to go. I’m not sure what the gods believe this is going to do for me. I don’t even really think that I want to know what all of this stuff is supposed to be doing for me. All I know is that I’m almost positive I don’t want to head in that direction anymore. With each new conversation, each new visit, each new godphone experience, I begin to fear a little bit more about what it all means and what the whole purpose is.

I got what I wanted way back when but I have to ask if it’s even worth it anymore.

And I don’t think it really is.

Kemetism is Orthopraxic: Live in Ma’at II.

Since my last post on this subject, I’ve been thinking extensively about how I wanted to continue it. I always knew, no matter the responses I received on that last installment, that I would get back to it. The thing about theological discussion is that as much as we may want to philosophize about it as often as possible, most of us have a life. And since that post went live the day before I started my new job, I haven’t really been able to put on my philosopher’s hat and get back to it. And I will be completely honest, considering the varied responses because of my last post, I’ve wondered if I should even bother with it. It seemed like no one but a select few really understood what I was getting at when I posted last time, so why bother moving forward with it? Giving up, however, is probably not living in ma’at though.

As a quick recap, I left off wondering what in the world ma’at actually is.

I think a part of that is because I am constantly questioning this main, huge, big, important concept to my religion: What is living in ma’at and how can I do that?

I forget about this concept all the time. I said it above; I’ll say it again. I forget about living in ma’at all the fucking time. There are days when I’m not nice. There are days when I’m too involved in my own shit to stop what I’m doing and help others out. There are days where I’m so busy running from the second I’m up that I forget about this whole integral part of my religious practice.

I don’t know what this thing is, honestly. I don’t really know.

But I know that my gods need it.

They need it and I need it.

I just have to figure out what “it” is.

I left off with the knowledge that it really is something but what that something is, I couldn’t have said. I’ve taken the last three months to ponder this. Over the months, as I sat back and let everything process in my subconscious, I’ve been slowly but surely trying to figure out what all this stuff is, what it means, and how I can definitely add it as part and parcel into my life. Without their knowing it, my Kemetic community has been helping me – first with their helpful comments on my blog entry and secondly, by just being themselves – so that I’ve been able to come to terms with why I have issues, specifically, with the shopping cart theology and what I actually think ma’at, and therefore living in it, may just entail.

Let’s revisit the SCT, linked above. In my last post, definitively all I could say was that it didn’t feel like this theology worked for me any longer. In one of the numerous responses to my last entry, I was told to “re-read the essay.” I’ll admit that I have a few times since then as well as re-reading it to just prior to writing the entry. I was almost hoping that, magically, by re-reading the words that had been written I could either define myself in the version of ma’at Kiya was espousing or, perhaps, at least figure out where I was having troubles with it. If I could diagnose the issue, I could fix it by either deciding I was full of it when I said it didn’t work for me or comprise a personal theological discourse to counteract the shopping cart essay. And by counteract, I mean, you know find something that worked for me that I could try to explain to others in case they needed something else, too.

I think I’ve figured it out.

When writing that last post I said, “The thing is that I tend to view this theology on its face as ‘orderly.’ And I don’t necessarily equate ma’at with ‘orderly.’ It reminds me, in a manner of speaking, of those movies where humans line up like the mindless little automatons we can be and do as we are bid.” I wasn’t quite satisfied with that explanation back then and I’m less so now. The thing is that I still believe it equates to “orderly.” I still honestly think that the SCT is all about order and less about balance. And as time has gone by, I’ve come to realize that my version of ma’at is simply that… it is balance. And for whatever reason, I don’t see the theological essay as balance, but as order. And while they go hand-in-hand, according to definitions and all of that, they’re not quite the same to me.

While thinking about revisiting this topic, I went back through the responses on my entry. I took careful note of Devo’s response. Out of everyone in my Kemetic group, I think our definitions of ma’at mirror each other very well. She can pull from Shinto and explain it in ways that my work in the world of voodoo doesn’t quite afford me. I’m left guessing and floundering while she can at least appear to got her act together on this. But, when I was re-reading all those responses the last few days what particular struck me was, “It really is a matter of how you look at it. Ma’at is balance. That’s the easiest way to say it. Because it’s different for each of us- we can’t get too definite in our answers. We can’t pin down our definition to something that is too narrow- or we lose the point, the beauty that is ma’at- that its diverse.” Ah, yes… that’s what I’ve been aiming for and all I really had to do with steal Devo’s brain and borrow it for a while.

Part of the reason, I think, I have such a difficult time with “order” over “balance” is because of the perceived notions, from an American perspective, that I associate with that particular word. Order to me tends to be seen in terms of black and white, guilty or innocent, light or dark. It also means putting things away in their designated spaces, but those designated spaces are, again, seen as either this or that and never in between. Balance, to me, doesn’t quite hold the same association.

In some perspectives, I can definitely see it as having the same connotation as order does for me. I have no delusions here; someone will see that paragraph and tell me that I’m wrong because balance means those things. But not necessarily. As Devo went on to say in that prolific comment, “I would also say that ma’at is big picture. We forget that sometimes. The big picture. We’re so caught up in the OMG RIGHT NOW SUCKS that we ignore what great things can come in the future from acts that are being done right now. As I’ve said a lot recently- sometimes NTR throw you under a bus. Usually, its because it supports a bigger picture. It sucks, but it’s part of ma’at. It’s part of maintaining the whole.”

Ah… shades of gray.

And that has always been my major issue with ma’at and the concept of living in it. I tend to view ma’at as shades of gray as opposed to anything concretely this or that. Sutekh is considered a god of chaos, and yet, he also protects Re’s solar barque on its voyage through the Duat. Sekhmet is a blood-thirsty warrior goddess who once tried to destroy humanity, however she is also the protector of the pharaoh, an upholder of ma’at. In terms of black and white, we would say that Sekhmet and Sutekh are “bad deities,” but they’re not. They provide other helpful bases that we as a people who were not raised with this same fluid morality have difficulty grasping.

Let’s take a look at execration rituals for a minute.

In ancient Egypt, there really wasn’t much an individual [poor] person could do in order to maintain ma’at. It was not their roll in life to be a part of large rituals that would keep the world from falling apart at the hands of isfet and its agent, Apep. However, they had, at their disposal, execration rites to protect them from their enemies, either perceived or real, human or demonic. In some ways, we may view these types of rituals as a kind of curse against someone or something that may be trying to cause pain and harm to a specific individual. In that regard, some people who see things in black and white would determine that these rituals were “bad.” They are, in effect, asking for harm to come to another human being so, from that supposition, we assume that these were “negative” rituals. But point of fact, and the evidence indicates, that these rituals were not seen that way. They were another form of maintaining ma’at on a level with people who had no stakes to play in the cosmic game, but had stakes to play in the living game.

Shades of gray, indeed.

Right now, I can definitely attest that after three months of pondering, back tracking, pondering, giving up and just generally trying to put all the puzzle pieces together, I can clearly say I know what I think ma’at actually is. If someone else asks, I can say, clearly, that I think of it as balance although the type of balance that I may associate with it may not be the same as others willing to openly and congenially discuss it with me. And that’s okay, too. Maybe the open discussion of what it is and what it isn’t to other people is part and parcel to living in ma’at, too. As Devo said, we can’t clearly define it too much because then we’ll lose the point and the beauty that is ma’at.

Or, as Cher Horowitz says in the iconic movie, Clueless,

Cher: No, she’s a full-on Monet.
Tai: What’s a Monet?
Cher: It’s like a painting, see? From far away, it’s okay, but up close, it’s a big old mess.

The How Vs. Why of Qebech (PBP).

First of all, for those of you are not of a Kemetic background, you won’t know the Q word I chose for this week’s post. Let me explain it. While I was mulling over what to write about, I mentioned that I didn’t have a damn clue as to what I should be writing about for this letter. There are a few gods and some words that are ancient Egyptian in origin and they begin with Q. The thing was that I couldn’t be sure whether or not I could do it justice. So, I just put it out there that I was stuck and any recommendations could be useful. Bezenwepwy, who is the supreme knowledge fount of all things jackal god related, gave me the following suggestions, qebeshu and qebech. The first means ‘cool water’ and the second, the one I chose, can either mean ‘to purify’ or ‘make a libation.’ I’ve decided to use qebech in its meaning of ‘make a libation.’

Now, the point of this entry stems from a conversation I monitored between two Kemetics of differing practices. That’s where the whole idea – after being given the word in question – came from. So, let’s see how much justice to this topic that I can give it.

Now, I’m not going to rehash the disagreement here. You’ll just have to trust in the fact that it happened. The thing is that the basis of the disagreement seemed to be a misunderstanding (which happens for more often on the Internet since we can’t watch facial cues or body language while reading whatever is written). The entire basis of this argument, besides a misunderstanding, seemed mostly because someone was worried that qebech and food offerings being left were due to “an easy way out” versus based on actually being thought over. And that’s the thing. This person who thought this way has seen and watched and realized that too many people getting into this lifestyle – not just Kemetism, but paganism, in general – tend to get stuck on the how question when it comes to leaving our offerings instead of paying attention to the why question when it comes to leaving our offerings. And as they mentioned, when you get stuck in the how you tend to autopilot when it comes to doing the daily offering jazz.

I’ll admit this because I have no problem explaining that I fuck up regularly: I’ve been stuck in that little smidge lately. It’s not just that I have to put actual thought into what I’m leaving, but that it is incredibly easy to just go about the motions instead of actually focusing on what you are doing. After a while, you just start falling into the pattern. At first, you might think that doing it this way will build up the ability to just remember to leave these things for the gods. And in a manner of speaking that could be the case. I know that when I let the autopilot take over whenever I was doing a daily offering to the gods and the lwa and whomever else desired something, I was not likely to forget what was going on. But, I found it unsatisfying after a while. I was going through all of these motions and instead of being stuck on the why I was doing all of this, I was still stuck in the how phase. Let’s call that the Beginner Phase.

The Beginner Phase, I think, is common. I also am becoming to believe that it may actually be a test of the gods. No, no; hear me out before you laugh me off. I think that this Phase is necessary. It teaches us to get into the habit of leaving things for the gods on a regular basis, which is something we should be doing, especially those of us practicing a recon form of religion. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if we don’t do this, how will they manifest in our lives? Not just the God Phone and all of that, but in miracles and tribulations. If we don’t get into this Beginner Phase, then what is the point in all of the work we try to put into it? If we can’t lay a foundation, what the hell is the point? But like I said, I think it’s a test. I think it’s a test because we have to not only get into the habit of doing this, but we also have to be conscious of what we are offering and the very reason behind it: the why.

I just said it above and so, I’ll say it again.

I honestly believe that when I’m leaving things to my gods and my spirits and my lwa, it’s so that I can feel their presence in my life. Am I saying that these actions or qebech are wholly necessary to feeling them? No. Before I was called to this path, I didn’t leave offerings at all. I didn’t do anything. There were no prayers or thoughts or anything in that direction. But Sekhmet and Legba and Hekate have all managed to come into my life and make themselves made manifest in some form or another. Now that they are here, I want to keep them in my life. I want to continue to forge a stronger and stronger relationship with them. And while the offerings that I give them may not be the whole enchilada, I think it’s a pretty big and important aspect to maintaining that relationship. But it’s not like I can just go around and give them the same things, day in and day out. As I’ve said in some of my offering posts, isn’t it possible that, just like us, the OTHER™ get bored with the same thing on a daily basis?

We do; so why not them?

But the other aspect to this, which is something that we forget, is that we have to remember the why. And in so doing, we should put more effort into the qebech that we leave and the food that we leave. We shouldn’t just stick to the Grain and Drain Train*. While water and bread were two of the biggest things to leave, we can’t just assume that they want it daily. It’s not just an aspect of being bored here, either, but how much manifesting or relationship can we have with the gods if we’re doing things on autopilot?

It’s the effort, it’s the desire, and it’s the why.

This is me, rethinking the usual. Instead of water, I gave the Ladies small rocks from my crystal collection and booze. Legba got coffee and booze. And a little later, some pennies.

So maybe the next time you decide to give your gods the same old, same old… maybe you’ll sit back and rethink the autopilot you’re on. Maybe you’ll actually put a little extra and give them something you’ve never done before, like a piece of cake or a finger or two of booze. And maybe, they’ll manifest how much that worked better than they do with the same old, same old. Maybe, just maybe.

Kemetic Path Forging.

(This is an entry that I woke up with in my head untold times in the middle of the night. So, obviously, putting it off is not something I can do any longer. Also, in said twilight state, I was also shown that this will be a three-part series, so to speak.)

Being a solitary Kemetic is a pretty difficult path to walk down. It’s really no wonder that Kemetic Orthodoxy has picked up so much speed when it comes to other Kemetics. It’s easier to follow someone else who has done all of the hard work for you. Time and time again, I’ve considered joining the House of Netjer. I want to follow a Kemetic path in my pagan life, but it’s so hard and confusing to figure out just how to begin and just do what needs to be done. I’m not saying that all followers of Kemetic Orthodoxy chose it because they couldn’t come up with a Kemetic path all on their own, but I can definitely see why the house has gained so much momentum and I can definitely understand the desire behind joining. Unfortunately, or fortunately, that’s not the way that I’m supposed to go. Kemetism has a large part to what I will be planning and what my pagan lifestyle will entail, but it’s not the entirety. It’s just the biggest.

I’ve been calling myself god-bothered lately. I’m not sure what other people use this term for, but I’m saying it’s what I’ve got. I have a patron, sure. She hangs out and tells me when I’m being dumb. She hangs out and tells me when I’m being smart. She hangs out and says that things are going this way whether I like it or not. She bothers me when I hide behind my anxiety. She bothers me when I stop listening. She pokes and prods at me to get my ass in gear. She bothers the hell out of me to get me going. So, that’s what I mean when I say that I’m god-bothered. But, I’m also a servant here. I’m not just something for her to poke and prod at. I’m also someone who gives her some things that she wants at a given moment: incense, water, food, attention. It’s this more watered down relationship that I have with the second OTHER™ in my life. Servitude. On the one hand, I have a god who wants the world for me and is a mother-type figure. On the other hand, I have a god who wants me to tap in to who I really am on the inside. These two are together in their fight because the end results are just the same: a forged path of Kemetic origin.

I’ve had visions lately (or day dreams, maybe) about myself. I see myself kneeling out in front of my altar, with Sekhmet at its center. There she is, giving me a smile and a nod. She’s telling me in her own, quiet way that what I’m doing is right. And there I am… laying down in front of her on my knees with my arms out in front of me and my face on a pillow since my floor is not comfortable. And I’m just jabbering away. I’m talking about whatever is in my head and the words come spewing out. And there she is, smiling and nodding. Smiling and nodding. I know what these visions or daydreams or thoughts are telling me: this is important and it’s something that I need to get into the habit of. The last time I spoke of prostrating myself at my altar to the Sister, she mentioned that as ridiculous as it may seem, sometimes that’s what you have to do. Maybe it was that conversation that got all of this started; I don’t know. But in recent weeks as I live with constant uncertainty and doubts, it’s the soothing feel of these… whatevers… that makes it so that I can breathe again.

I think that may be the start of this. I think that may be the beginning of what I need to do.

But, how often do I do this? Do I only need to do this when the anxiety or depression is difficult to clamber through? Do I do this daily because each day is hit or miss? Do I just do it once a week? I know that those in the KO will pick a day and do it, or they’ll do it daily. For a while, I was doing my own version of senut on a daily basis and this left me feeling hollow and tired. It seemed like a good idea at that time, but it didn’t have the true feeling I was looking for. So, in the context of that, if I start doing this daily… will the same thing happen? I honestly don’t know. I guess all I can say is that I won’t know until I try. But it’s worrisome and frightening but sometimes, you just have an OTHER™ bothering the hell out of you, poking and prodding and toeing at you until you get your butt off of the couch or out of the kitchen to do what’s necessary.

You know, one of the reasons I have a hard time with this whole creating thing is because I tend to look around and realize, startled, that I haven’t a fucking clue what the hell I’m doing. I’ve been reading a lot of books lately about how we don’t know a damn thing about the daily lives of the ancient Egyptian. While I don’t want to base everything that I want to practice on what they may or may not have done, sometimes I’d like to have a little bit of a feel about what they may or may not have done. I want to base something on what they had going. I know there were amulets and household shrines and that they worshiped their akhu, but we know little else: were there daily prayers? Did they each meet at shrine in the morning before going about their day? Did they have fables to be told to teach the children how to behave properly? Did they do anything akin to what we do nowadays? Nobody knows because it was the priesthood and their data that survived. (It’s kind of hard for a populace that’s illiterate to leave behind a record.) And I’ve long since realized that being a priest in any context is not what I want or need. It’s too much, too fast. At this point, at this juncture, it’s the simple love and attention of my goddess that I crave and desire.

And besides, maybe, UPG is more important than what was said and done in the past.

I’ve let this cloud the issue.

On top of the prostrations, I think… I think more focus on the akhu is more than just slightly in order. My attention span is minimal; I find my mind taken up with much that has little to do with religion more often than not. This bothers me because not only are my gods and Lwa relegated to a background role, but it also means that so are the akhu. I only pay attention to them when it suits me; I go over to their little home in my entertainment center and dust once a week. The amounts of dust, just in a week, is legendary. I pay attention and maybe I comment on the way that the strips of paper have moved in the winds created by an active child. I do little else in their name. There are no offerings and there are no thoughts of them. They’re supposed to be important and not just because the path I’m walking says that it is so. They’re who I came from and they’re what helped to shape me into what I am today. Honoring them with more than a simple dusting and a few comments is important. If the children of the ancient Egyptians didn’t leave offerings for their akhu, then untold horrible things would happen to said akhu. Ignorance of the way is one thing; outright denial is yet another. And I’m at the denial stage: “Oh, they’re there; they can wait. They have eternity.” This is no longer valid and it’s no longer the way things should be.

Yet another issue… offerings. What are offerings? I’ve always thought of them in the realm of food and drinks. It was something that you gave to them to eat, right? Something that was given to them to slake their thirst? These were the thoughts I had in relation to offerings. They were tangible items that I put together to make them grow or to keep them here or something. I’m not sure what the pathology behind these thoughts were. But, this isn’t the case.

An offering is a stick of incense and a tea light in remembrance; an offering is a flower or blades of grass to place in front of them; an offering is intention and merit. While I was shaped to think otherwise, I’m beginning to see that it’s not just things that we would ingest that can be found as typical offerings. And besides, what gods don’t appreciate the smell of a scent of incense? It was one of the most important parts of celebration in the temple in ancient Egypt and while I’ve mentioned being rabidly against doing the priest thing (it was mentioned to me that things constantly change on these paths and so, I will say that maybe the whole priesthood thing and my reaction to it will change, but in the mean time…), I’m not a mother of a brood of illiterate children, hoping that one or all will become scribes. I am the mother of an active child and I have access to incense that, chances are, the ancient Egyptian populace did not have. And so, offerings aren’t just water and bread, but incense and candles and a nod in their direction.

I find myself exhausted after having written all of this. I find myself feeling like a nap is in order. I have things to get done, but in the mean time, I think the start of all of this is valid. I think it works and I think that it’s a good start. Maybe I can continue in the same vein in the other two parts of these posts. In the mean time, I think, I need a time out, a shot of vodka, and an added boost of energy. And maybe, just maybe, a prostration in front of my Lady.