Words.

I have a secret passion about language. All right, well, if you know me and have known me for any length of time, then you know I have a thing about words. I enjoy them. I like feeling the flow of them roll across my tongue as I communicate with others. I enjoy spending my time going through the etymology of various words, just to see. I like seeing the history of a word, as we know it today, and why the meaning of words have changed. Occasionally, I try to start using some older phraseology in my communication with others, but I tend to stop after a while. Not many people quite understand me when I speak as though I am attempting to recreate the flowery sentiments of Medieval English and the lavish ideas expressed by tales like the Perceval, the Story of the Holy Grail. Besides, I can’t write the words out in nearly as fancy a script as they used to.

But words fascinate me.

I enjoy them.

I enjoy employing them.

I use many on a daily basis. I sit in front of a computer all day, communicating usually through E-mail with my clients. I’ve been told at this job that I need to always second guess whatever it is that I want to say. I’ve been told repeatedly that I need to “dumb down” my language. This hurts me, honestly. I never thought of my communication skills as being above anyone else. I use the words that come to me because those are the ones I learned. However, I also know that a lot of the verbiage I’ve learned over the years stems from my varied and extensive reading lists. So, I’ve been forced to think and re-think my E-mails. There are days where I stare at an E-mail for hours and hours because I know that words like “differentiate” and “rectify” and “allocate” and the like may go over the heads of the people whom I’m talking to.

This wounds me.

It’s almost like because I have a passion for reading and for learning new words, then I am wrong. I know the whole point behind the statements of my supervisors: my language skills are far above the people who I am interacting with. This makes sense. I don’t know the people on the other end of my E-mail, but it’s possible that they are all very much like me: working a dead-end job in the hopes of one day actually making ends meet. And in many cases, they may not like to read or to learn new words. In many cases, they may just be only interested in getting through the second in front of the one they just wasted reading my E-mail. And maybe, in that second of wasted E-mail reading, they didn’t understand anything I had to say because they don’t care about utilizing various words to make the point they’ve been aiming for.

Whatever the reason, I understand the philosophy behind my supervisors’ statements.

It still wounds me.

I think a large part of my passionate love affair with the various forms of communication stem from my writing background. Even though most of everything I have ever written has never seen the light of day, it is a realm in which I have created using nothing more than the ability to describe effectively, to use words effectively to create that other world. It’s helped that I grew up lost, almost literally, in books. My entire world would change from each day as I chose a new book to read. But, honestly, if it wasn’t for the desire to constantly write some new story, some new universe where the bad guy loses or where the good guy loses, then I honestly wonder if I would be nearly as interested in the history, definitions, and use of various words. I strongly doubt this would be the case.

Whatever the reason, I enjoy words.

This goes well with the whole ancient Egyptian belief about words.

Words, in ancient Egyptian belief, were the founding blocks of everything. Without the supreme act of creation – through the correct verbiage by the netjer in question – there would be nothing. As I was reading The Priests of Ancient Egypt by Serge Sauneron, he touched on this very briefly towards the end of the book. But as I was reading this second, I felt the potency of the point he was making. Words have power and in that power, it is only that which we grant it. In a single moment, we can create something explosive such as life. Or in a single anger fueled second, we can tear down a single person to the very fiber of their beings. Words, as such, are incredibly important in many modern-day Kemetics’ practice. But with this, also comes the fact that the world has changed and the words that may have once founded a nation or destroyed poop with so heroic a measure are no longer practiced in the way they once world.

The ancient world fell out of favor for one reason or another and the beliefs contained therein did as well.

We modern-day practitioners create this to the best of our abilities, but it is difficult. It is never so much more difficult than for those of us who have no intent or no ability to learn the words that once created the world. It is not a simple act of not being able to, or willing to learn, on my part. It is simply a theory that was sort of cemented after reading that book by Sauneron: the ancient Egyptian language is, in itself, a magical formula. It is not a thing for the laity. Even with teachers aplenty, back then, it still took years upon years for a scribe to be perfected enough to utilize their own language effectively and learn the magical formulae for the daily rites. Scribes were a specialized service and I am not to be a part of that because that is not where my path leads me. Laity is my world and I will continue down this path.

But how does all this knowledge work with modern words?

Nowadays, there are words everywhere. In some instances, these words have some severely negative associations. This is the fault of people for using them in such a way. Some words, people have taken back their power from. I’m not going to list them because I am not one of the people who have taken those words, usurped their negative association, and given it a new meaning. In other instances, the use of some words is a hotly debated contest between who must be correct and who must be wrong. I honestly try to steer away from all of that. I just love the words and the meanings and the how they came to be and the everything in between. Whether the word was negative or positive is only spun by the people utilizing it – so why the fuck does it matter so much?

We make it matter.

What seems like years ago now, but really not that long ago, I ended up using a word that has had many definitions. This word was apparently the wrong word to use in the mixed company I was within. What startled me was the vehement reaction to, well, a word. I had gone through some of the negative actions of this word myself, but by the act of being able to use it in any of its other definitions meant, somehow, that I was not a survivor. Or, maybe it meant that I was and that I was a fucked up one. Whatever the actual belief behind the people who ripped into me for using this word, I stated my piece and walked away. It wasn’t worth the conversation, but it did make me realize that there were people who there who feared words, who hated words, who felt that they should stamp out every possible other association with a single word just because it had once been used in context to something they had experienced.

I think what startled me the most was that people seemed honestly to hate the world and were scared of it.

We have long since come from the world when words were acts of creation. They can still be – obviously, we have writers. But the acts of creation that these words can create are not the same as that the netjer once created. What writers do is but a pale mockery to what the netjer have done, in my opinion as a writer. While I create very much akin to the netjeru who have used words to create such things as people and the world we live in, it’s a pale comparison to me. I can never create something as varied and beautiful and horrible and terrifying as the world we live in today or the people who populate it. I can only attempt to create a one dimensional world that, maybe, someone will enjoy spending time with now and again. (As if.) It is nothing like the world my gods created as much as it may be trying.

Now, we live in a world where whatever spin we want to make on a single word is up to us.

But we can only make it as angry and hurtful as the tonality of our voice or the expressiveness of our face. We can only give it the power that it probably does not deserve.

The word itself is neutral. It has no basis in anything unless we give it that basis.

I am tired of people telling me a word is hurtful.

How can it be if I am using it at its most basic definition?

The word is not any of the things that you associate it with. It just is. It is a part of the world that we live in because we created it to describe certain instances. Whether you give it a negative association or not is entirely up to you. Whether it has any worth at all is entirely up to you. Whether you use it or not, is up to you. Whether it is erased from your vocabulary in its entirety is up to you. But because all of these things are up to a single, individual human person, everyone else’s reaction to the word is going to be different. Every single person is going to have their own specific and special circumstances in which they come right out and say, “I do not want to use this word. I will never use this word. Please do not use it around me.”

I can respect that.

I have to since the world I find myself in more and more is entirely surrounded by nothing but words.

My problem is that I don’t understand why people give these words any type of power. By fearing it, by hating it, by striking it from your vocabulary, then you are giving it a strange hold over you. A word is an item that humans created to describe a thing. In that action, there is neither malice nor joy. As I said, the word just is. It is a thing. And just as a gun or a sword has no negative or positive association with it unless you give it either one, so too are words. There is little difference I suppose. Words can be utilized as harshly as either of those two instruments to destroy a person. I’ve seen it happen, I’ve done it myself, and I have had it happen to me. The thing is that words are something we will see and use far more regularly than either of the two weapons I just mentioned.

So, why is there such a need to strike words from use?

Why is there no legislation moving forward to ban the words that people despise, that people will not use, that people cannot use, or that people ask others not to use?

Has legislation not been entered to restrict gun access?

Perhaps we should do likewise with words.

But then, that enters an entire gray area and there is no real way to enforce such a thing.

The point here is that we give the words the power that wound us, destroy us, that hurt us. We allow them to take over and make them into the boogeyman that we must hide from. I find this, as a Kemetic, incredibly disheartening and the entire trend is anathema to me. It is as though the power that the netjeru gave us to create our own worlds – through writing, through heka, through these descriptors – that we are slapping them in the face for their gift of language. We are telling them, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Words have had much power over me in my past.

I’m tired of this.

I’m tired of cowering beneath the weight of my terrors and my traumas. I am most entirely tired of having to defend my use of linguistics when, point of fact, the word that I may utilize is the very word that I mean and in its proper context.

I know what it feels like to be raked over hot coals of horror and fear. I know what it is like to have something hit you square between the eyes and take you for another round of guilt, shame, and revulsion after you finally managed to crawl out of your personalized pit. I know what it is like to lay cowering beneath the weight of the world and fearing everything associated with it. I know what it feels like to have someone you love whispers harsh invectives towards you just to watch you break a little more with each day. But the thing is that I won’t let those invectives or even those seemingly innocuous words rule my life, my will, my power. I will not let them. I will not stop others from allowing this to happen. But you must understand that I do not understand. I will never understand no matter your explanations, kind or otherwise.

I have my fucking power.

And I will keep it.

Kemetic Round Table: Heka.

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.

Side note: As with ma’at being a concept and a deity, so are heka, hu, and sia. Let’s talk about the concepts.

One of the most difficult parts about working with a religion that’s been dead for millennia is trying to puzzle out some of the most basics of basics. It doesn’t help that the only aspects of the religion that we can build from are from leftovers from priesthoods that are long since over, especially since not every single one of us want to rebuild a priesthood but just a functional practice for the layman. We have to rely, heavily, on academic books that may be overly dry and boring, enough to make your eyes glaze over when you attempt to read them. Another problem is that this particular religion is definitely outside of a Western thinker’s framework. We come into these ancient religion with our preconceived notions of definitions and beliefs, bringing holdovers from monotheistic religions in a lot of cases. It can be one of the hardest things when you’re going along and finally decide to ponder the meaning behind important concepts like ma’at and heka without much of a jumping off point.

As I had stated in my initial Kemetism is Orthopraxic post, I have had exceedingly difficult times with figuring out what ma’at is. In same vein, I have had similar difficulties when it comes to heka. Generally, it is defined as “magic.” This isn’t inaccurate, but it’s not the actual definition of the word if we can really say that the definition we have is accurate since the language has been dead for thousands of years. In effect, the literal translation (near as I can figure) is activating the ka (the ka was the immortal aspect of the ancient Egyptians complicated soul concept – this is also the part of the soul that I believe reincarnates with each new life). But what in the world does that even mean?

In the last year, I’ve tried to define it with mixed results.

My initial thoughts on it were more in line with one of the concepts that heka is associated with as opposed to the actual meaning of the word. These two concepts are hu and sia. Sia is the power of perception and hu is divine utterance. I was thinking more along the lines of these two concepts as what heka actually was and I honestly don’t think I am correct at all. They are related, honestly, but they do not equate to one another. Sia is, to me, about what can come about, is created by, the action of hu. While these two concepts are kind of the foundation of what the great, wide world of understanding heka can be, they are not the totality of the concept. It isn’t just about watching your speech because you never know what you’re throwing out into the world – though this is important – it’s about activating or use of your ka.

But, specifically, what does that even mean? Is it like having super powers at your disposal without you realizing it? In a manner of speaking, we could easily say that the answer is “yes.” It is through our ka that we are able to inflict change, in the forms of hu and sia specifically, upon the world. It is through the ka that we have a deep connection with divinity, “Upon the body’s demise the ka rejoined its divine origin, but always remained in close proximity of the body.” [X.] It is through their ka that gods like Amun self-fertilized, Ptah created the world, and Khnum shaped clay into the vessels of men. While they are gods and probably are more aware of what needs to happen to use effectively their heka, they created us in similar image. They gave us the exact same piece of the soul, the ka, to do similar acts. While our acts may not be as grand as self-fertilizing or creating an entire world, they are still acts that we can do in order to effect change in the world.

And doesn’t that sound familiar to anyone who has studied witchery in any context? I’ve seen it explained that by using spells and poppets, witches are pushing their will into the world to create a change that they would like to see happen. It’s not really all that far-fetched now to see why heka is usually loosely translated to mean “magic.” Magic isn’t necessarily a bad definition, but it’s not the totality of the subject matter. Heka is more about what you have to do – in witchy words, building up the energy based around your desire – in order to create whatever you want to see happen. It isn’t just about deciding to do something, but in the acts that lead up to that moment as well as the ingredients needed, the correct word usage, and the will to have perceptions change to include what you’ve just thrown into the world.

Now, as I said above, I’ve had difficulties defining this concept, to the point where I was conflating the two foundational concepts – hu and sia – to equate to heka. While, as I said, they are important aspects because they teach you what it is that you must do in order to utilize heka effectively, they are not the sum total of the concept. It’s almost as if we have an ancient recipe on our hands that we must follow exactly in order to get the final result – the dessert – that we are aiming for. If you go a little over on the measurements, you may be short-changing what it is you want with your heka and end up with something completely different than what you had intended.

I’ve been thinking about whether or not this concept is something we need to make manifest on a daily basis. Is heka and it components necessary for a layman in modern times? Is understanding this concept, and thereby using it, something that we, as modern practitioners, require? I’ve written one set of responses and realized I was wrong. I’ve written another set of responses and realized that wasn’t the totality of what I wanted to say.

Honestly, I think that even though we see it used so often in ancient Egyptian myth in specific occurrences, specific events, that it is something that modern recons/revivals/eclectics need to take into consideration on a daily, hourly, or even minute by minute basis. It was, probably, used frequently by priests in the ancient days because that’s part and parcel to the religion itself. Using good heka meant the world would continue for another day, another hour. It was probably used just as often by healers and magicians, for the common folk, because they were literate enough to decipher the texts that are associated with heka. But we don’t have a specialty class anymore. We don’t have a specific priesthood, specific magicians and healers, that we can go to in order to properly and effectively use heka. We are the people who cavort with the gods, who are de facto priests of the gods, and we must learn about heka in order to ensure that we are doing things appropriately in the name of our gods and in the name of our religion.

But, how do you do that? How do you start working with a concept like heka?

You start off small.

For example, you will see that many Kemetics do utilize, at least in part, the hu aspect of heka when we discuss religion. You will see the name Apep “ritually” destroyed in our conversations. Some people remove some letters, other people use a strike through to ritually destroy the name. In this vein, we are practicing heka, more specifically the concept of divine utterance. By desecrating this name, we are making sure that it does not gain power and cause ma’at to fall from the world, generally speaking. Do we do this daily? In some instances, yes. When we are discussing our religion with outsiders or with one another, these discussions may span days in forums, blogs, or groups and each time, we will do this. This is minor heka. It is about activating our ka. It is about perceiving this name as being destroyed. It is about performing a divine utterance. However, this is small – minor, really – in comparison to larger acts that we may perform, such as a spell, an execration, explaining things to newbies, etc.

I think we should be aware of what we say to other people and how we say it. I think we should be aware of what sort of perceptions can be sent into the world about one another, but about ourselves. And I think we need to be aware that, perhaps, our use of spoons is about throwing the energy into the world about X, Y, and/or Z when we don’t mean to. I think all of these things are important enough to keep a kind of mental sticky note on the mirror to say, “How are you spoons? Are you using your heka effectively?” And I wonder how many of us will come back from this exercise to realize that we were activating our ka in regards to something, tossing some spoons into the world for the fun of it, and then shutting back down again.

I’m pretty sure I’m guilty of this and I’m almost positive that I’m not the only one.

And I think that’s really, honestly, the only way outside of major undertakings (like ritual destruction) that we can and should use heka. Pay attention. Look around. Do some internal surveys. Double and triple check your thoughts on something so that you don’t have to backpedal later when you fail to explain yourself properly. Watch your spoons and how you manage them. But above all, be cognizant of the best advice a Kemetic has ever shared, “don’t be a dick.”

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.

Unabashedly.

Relevant Posts

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

What’s In a Name?

I'm so glad I didn't choose "Dante." I'd never live with myself.

I’m so glad I didn’t choose “Dante.” I’d never live with myself.

One of the things that are very important to people are names. As a parent, I can tell you that it can be agonizing, trying to pick out the perfect name for the child growing inside of you. You constantly have doubts that the name won’t work for the soul and personality of your future child. And you have to be conscientious about how the name you’re looking into works with the last name you’re saddling the child with. It’s really a good deal more complicated than one would think. I know I didn’t think about it until my son was forming inside of me. And it took months of suggestions and arguments and ideas from everyone before I got my way. And my son is just so the name that I gave him. In even thinking of the possibility that I nearly named him “Dante” and I’m like, nope. This kid is not a Dante.

As a kid, I never really hated my name. It was different enough to be memorable and unique. I’ve always felt that I could, and so maybe possibly a little am, these two things. The bit I liked, first, about my name was that it was a “family name.” It made me feel tied to my ancestral line in a way that’s difficult to describe. It’s more than just having a last name that could stretch back a few hundred years. It tied my French and English lines together. The other part I liked about my given name was its meaning, “elven ruler.” If that just ain’t fucking awesome right there, then what is? The only thing that got me, and still does oddly enough, is that my name will never never show up on this campy name license plates. Aubrey may be getting up in popularity, a song by Bread notwithstanding, but it’s no Anne, Sarah, or Theresa.

Since I’ve been pretty content with my given name, the whole lure to find myself a magical name pretty much passed me by. I watched as all the cool kids did it and was just like, “I don’t fucking get it; you have a name.” Years later, I’m finally beginning to get the whole point: secrecy, quiet, pseudonym and all of that. But, really, let’s be honest here. The big point in finding a new magical name is so that kids who hate their names can call themselves whatever they want. Unfortunately, they tend to forget that the magical name is one of those sticks-with-you things. I’ve seen people change their name a thousand times before finally just decided, “Yeah, this will do, I suppose.” I know I’m guilty of it; I’ve long since jettisoned my “magical” name.

But, like I said, since I was content with the given name, I wasn’t really interested in finding one. However, it’s also one of those rites of passage thing that’s big in covens and stuff. (I guess?) I felt like I had to find one. It’s even possible that my coven mates told me I should have one. I don’t really know. I don’t really care. I ended up backing away from all of those magical name websites that are out in the trillions and decided that I would find a name that I thought worked for me. Fire Rain Willowtree or Samara Mistwalker. The names over there just seem awfully hippy to me and you know, I liked the way they dressed but not how they named their kids. So, I stepped out of that hullabaloo.

And I came up with Aisling.

You see how often I use it now, right?

I chose the name because of its meaning. I’m very big on name meanings. It was because of the

Drum roll, please.

Drum roll, please.

magical qualities in my son’s name and the lore behind that name that pushed me in that direction. As I said, I always found it really interesting and neat that my name meant “elven ruler” or “elven power.” (It’s a Norman French bastardization of a Germanic name, if you must know.) I’ve always looked into the meaning behind the names I choose whenever I name characters in my novels and short stories. So, it was with that background in obsessing over name meanings that I ended up choosing Aisling, and let me tell you know, nobody saw that fucking coming. They were sure I was going to go with something like “Nefertari” or what have you. A Gaelic name? For me? What? But, I liked the meaning of “dream” or “vision.” Since I was embarking on a sort of dream world with the magical stuff and also, the fact that it’s a relatively new creation in the lexicon of names meant a lot to me, too. I was being newly created with this newly found name, right?

Symbolism, man; it’s fucking everywhere.

But, I used the name for all of two months before I realized that I was done with that. I was still part of the coven when I began shying away from it. The name was great; the symbolism behind it was right. However, it just wasn’t me. And I’ll admit, I didn’t really look for a new name. Why did I care? I didn’t. I liked the name I was given and the nickname that went with it because they both fit me just fine. The thing is that when you decide that you’re going to join the at-large pagan community and you’re still quasi-in the closet, then maybe you need to hide your identity a little.

This crisis didn’t happen until I joined up at TC so many years ago now. I had to choose a name and I wasn’t all right with being, “HI MY NAME IS AUBS. LOVE ME PLZ.” I mean, now I don’t really care. Obviously. But, then, I was kind of like, “Eh, I should probably come up with a clever little play on words to describe me.” I didn’t. I chose something stupid and awkward, but I figured it was a “foot in the door” and you could change your username back then if you wanted to. I ended up changing it to Sekhemib-Nymaatre a few months after I had established myself as a member of the forum over there.

This was actually a dual composition. I chose Sekhemib because it meant “strong in heart.” I felt that this was appropriately loving toward Sekhmet who had long since established her role in my life by that point. And I wanted to honor her in the name I was choosing for myself as an online alias. But, I also ended up adding to it Nymaatre, which means “belonging to the justice of Re.” While this was a mix of two pharaohs’ throne names, I thought it was appropriate… until it wasn’t.

Just because you choose a nice sounding name doesn’t mean it’s going to last.

While surfing around on the Internet one day, I ended up on a page about the Queen Sobekneferu, who ruled towards the end of the 12th Dynasty in ancient Egypt. I was actually looking for the female throne names used by the few queens that actually ruled in ancient Egypt. I had gone with Sekhemib-Nymaatre to convey who I was on the Internet, especially in this blog, but it didn’t work for me. It was just all wrong. What sort of justice did I have to do with? None. And at the time, I wasn’t feeling particularly strong of heart about anything. So, I was just looking and looking until finally… Satsekhem.

I’ll be honest. I was sort of but not really looking for a new name for myself, but this was it. This was the one. It was charming me. I pushed away from the name, thinking, I have a name; I have an Internet presence; I’m good. But, I kept going back to stare at it over and over again. It was like, “This is something you need to look at and you have to know.” It wasn’t really me doing the looking anymore, I don’t think. I think Sekhmet was pushing me to look on her behalf. She wanted to be acknowledged in the presence I was shoving out to the people. She wanted more than that, though. She wanted everyone to know that I am her daughter in as much sense of the word as can be conveyed into our little three-dimensional brains.

So, there you have it.

That’s what this name thing is about. That’s where I come from.

It’s always been all about her…

Violence, Sekhmet, and Ma’at (PBP).

I realized something the other day when I was thinking about ma’at and Sekhmet and Sutekh’s relation to the belief. I realized that, myself included, a lot of people seem to think that ma’at is intrinsically associated with rainbows, happiness, and unicorn farts. There are roses and oases everywhere filled with lotus blossoms. The scents of beauty enchant and entrap you with their perfection. In the distance, a gentle breeze blows the heat from your brow or a warming stone keeps the chill from your fingers. Everything works out okay: the money comes in when it’s supposed to, you’re eternally employed at the best job ever, you have a good family, there is healthy communication, and just happiness abounds out of your pores like the sweet scents of incense. So, in essence, I realized that there are probably a lot of people who think that ma’at is equated with perfection and happiness. It is a concept, I believe, that is horrifically wrong.

What brought this up was the other night when I found an image someone did of Sekhmet in human form, as can be found here. I like the image without looking further into it; the face of it is lovely. I think the artist is incredibly talented. However, the actual symbolism behind the image, I’m not a large fan of. The dark, almost evil, thoughtful look on Sekhmet’s face, the mountain of skulls the throne is upon… these don’t sit right with me. I have never once, in all my years, had a feeling of Sekhmet as this inherently, well, evil kind of lady. She’s a lot of things and she’s lot of facets but this image kind of makes me feel like she is EVIL INCARNATE – DESTROY, KILL, DESTROY and nothing else. I went on to comment on this and had a little side conversation with a Canaanite polytheist over at Tumblr about it. Later, the person who initially posted this image commented back and one of the things ze said was, “Though Sekhmet can stand for order… she’s unapologetically violent as hell.” And I started thinking.

What is it about ma’at that makes us believe that it’s some lovely, peace-filled harmony that we should all strive for?

I think the basic issue stems from the inability to properly equate it in American-English, UK-English, and various other languages. I’ve mentioned this in other places before but sometimes, there are just some foreign words that have no comparison in other foreign languages. I’ll break this down using an example that I think relates to the concept of ma’at and is dear to my heart. So, let’s discuss the Russian word, Правда, or “pravda.” In English, we associate this term as meaning “truth,” but it’s actually a good deal more than that. As found on page 17 of Russia and the Russians by Geoffrey Hosking, “in fact everything the community regarded as ‘right’: justice, morality, God’s law, behaving according to conscience. The criterion for any decision taken by the village assembly that it must accord with pravda.” In effect, the concept of Правда is similar (UPG here) to what I equate ma’at as being. What I’m saying is that it isn’t just about what we ascribe as perfection or as truth, but as a moral compass as well as harmony. It’s a word that needs numerous other words to be properly ascribed in English, which is something we often find when trying to explain ma’at to outsiders. (I know I tend to go, “it’s uh…” a lot when talking with non-Kemetics.)

And while morality figures highly into the concept behind ma’at, we can’t just assume that violence doesn’t figure into this.

As found on Wiki, we watch as a god slays Apep. Similar imagery can be found in later times of Sutekh and Sekhmet slaying the serpent of chaos.

As shown in the image above, we see a goddess (claimed to be Bastet by Wiki) slaying the serpent of chaos, Apep. There is nothing light and fluffy about this act. Warboar drew an image of Set slaying Apep (original entry linked below). In later myths, I have found the chore of slaying Apep given to Sekhmet, my main lady. As evidenced by the picture above, it is also a chore ascribed to Bastet. In all of these instances, in the mythologies, we find that the gods are slaying a creature to uphold all things that are ma’at. This is a necessary evil, in effect. In order to keep isfet from overtaking the world and creation, these gods must stand up against it and battle it. In the battles, blood will be shed; violence will be used. But these are considered good, charitable, and life-saving acts. Sometimes, light and fluffy is fine and dandy, but offering Apep tea and crumpets isn’t going to necessary stop it from overtaking all things ma’at.

But let’s go back to Правда for a minute. In Russian linguistics, they actually have words that we can equate with the antithesis of Правда. Depending on the words used, they could equate to “crookedness,” “untidiness,” and various other things. But, as I mentioned in what I quote above, “The criterion for any decision taken by the village assembly that it must accord with pravda.” In effect, whenever we discuss Правда, it was the social conscience for what was correct and morally upheld by the entire assembly, the entire community or Мир (or “mir” in English.) So, in while we would view Правда as discussing unicorn farts and rainbows with pots of gold at the end of them, in times where life was anything but certain, Правда could also equate with burning the fields and starting all over again, fighting against the Khans that were subjecting their authority over Russian land, and fighting against other Мир that were trying to overtake their land and resources. While Правда was about good things and conscientious thought, amongst other things, that could also mean utilizing violence to make it happen.

Now, let’s talk about Sekhmet for a minute here.

Sekhmet had seven arrows that tended to bring bad luck and misfortune, usually in the form if disease. As taken from page 37 of Magic in Ancient Egypt by Geraldine Pinch: “the Seven Arrows of Sekhmet, always brought evil fortune, often in the form of infectious disease.” However, there doesn’t seem to be any concrete evidence as to who may or may not be hit with these seven arrows. Considering her actions in regarding and upholding ma’at and her heavy influence over maintaining justice, wouldn’t it be possible that the people who were afflicted with the Seven Arrows could in fact be those who were living lives filled with isfet? Obviously, we have no evidence in support or to the contrary of these thoughts, but I feel that it makes more sense in what I’ve learned and what I’ve done in working with her that while, she was fearful since she did try to annihilate humanity once, it is just as likely that those struck by her arrows were not living in accordance with ma’at. This, I feel, is another example where, maybe not specifically violence per se, but a more negative aspect can be utilized in an effort to correct slights against ma’at.

What it comes down to, in regards to all of this is, how does violence suddenly no longer equate with ma’at? When did that happen? And how does the act of using violence to maintain ma’at suddenly equate Sekhmet as being “unapologetically violent as hell”?

Let’s discuss the elephant in the room here: the basis for most people’s thoughts on Sekhmet being “unapologetically violent as hell” isn’t just the Arrows that are considered “evil” and the diseases that could arise from them. Almost entirely, we have the basis for belief in her violent savvy ways is the Destruction of Mankind myth. A quick summary is that Re got really old and kind of enfeebled. Some of his human creations didn’t understand this and began talking smack about it behind his back. When he learned of this treachery, he got really angry and decided to teach his treasonous creations a lesson by destroying all of them. Enter Sekhmet: the Eye of Re. While initially, Sekhmet was only supposed to kill the people who were plotting against Re, she was intent on her blood lust and wanted her fill, so she began killing the humans that hadn’t plotted against her father. In the end, he tricked her with some red-colored beer, she got so very drunk, and passed out. However, the whole point behind the myth is that treachery and espionage are probably not a good idea because only bad things happen. Due to this, illness came to the world and Re relinquished his ruler ship over humanity.

However, in all of this, we are forgetting that while Sekhmet did get out of control, she was initially upholding ma’at by destroying those who had plotted against her father, Re. In order to teach a lesson, sometimes we have to smack our children’s hands out of the fire or punish them by sending them to their room without dinner. While times were more violent back then, it was with violence that the lesson was taught. Do not go against the gods. But more simplistically, do not fuck with ma’at because it will not end well.

Now, in regards to violence, it was common and often necessary in the ancient world. Since quite often, outside cultures would be considered part and parcel with isfet, subjugation via war would be considered upholding ma’at in ancient Egypt belief systems. They would see the act of war as necessary to tame the chaos all around them. These beliefs never brought about their destruction or seemed to annoy the gods since the ancient Egyptian culture lasted for thousands of years. And it wasn’t always just “unapologetic violence” being utilized here. It was an act of entering a country, subjugating its people in totality, and with the end result of having upheld ma’at from the agents of isfet. Just as Sekhmet and Sutekh and Bastet were busy slaying Apep to allow the sun god to rise yet another day, so too were the pharaoh and his armies doing likewise by conquering their neighbors.

While I will admit that we no longer live in a time frame where violence is to be utilized so readily and quickly as it was in ancient times, I do think it’s a mistake to forget that, in upholding ma’at, the ancients and the gods utilized it easily, readily, and to quick effect. So, really, the lesson here isn’t just that ma’at is a good deal more than a lot of people make of it, but that it’s as “dirty” and “violent” as it is “harmony” and “light.”

Relevant Posts

  1. Why Do You Worship Sutekh? by Warboar.

Letters to the Gods: Sekhmet.

Dear Sekhmet, The One Who Holds Back Darkness;

Too often, I find myself lost and alone, as if I’ve been wandering the wilderness in search of the rudimentary needs and wants of humanity. It always feels like I’ve been doing this journey, on my own, for so long. And then, comes a time when I realize that as much as I say that I am alone and that I don’t rely on anyone that I remember that I have faith; that I have gods. Sometimes, people will tell me that I am rich in faith and those days, I feel like I know what I’m doing, I know where to turn when things get harsh, get wrong, get bad. But then I have days like today when the sky is akin to how I feel and I end up feeling as though I am lost and alone in an eternity of darkness ahead of me.

My lady, I just… it’s so wrong. I feel like I’ve done the work I was supposed. I feel like the lesson I was supposed to learn in this last year have come and gone. And I know that they are to an extent. I know where I was supposed to head and I’m proud of myself. I came out of that particular haze, knowing where I stand and what things will come and how it is supposed to be. My lady, I know all of these things so deep within my heart that it can hurt sometimes with the profound knowledge it contains. But then, I have days like today where the weather is my mood and my mood is the weather. It’s cold and angry and cloudy and moody. It is all together and I forget to turn…

The thing is that you know the plight. You’ve watched me. We’ve walked together in the sands and we’ve talked; we’ve chatted. I’ve poured my heart out to you. I’ve come to you with my tears and my snot. I’ve come to you with my anger and my rage. I’ve turned to you during all of these days and I often wonder, when will it begin to get together more smoothly? Some days, I cannot help but wonder if I only think that I learned the lessons you had intended for me in this last year and that is why I am constantly back at the crossroads, looking up and down and trying to figure out what I just end up in a giant circle.

Stationary and yet, not.

I turn to you, my lady, to help this burden, to help my burden. I need your light to hold back my darkness.

Satsekhem

One-Sided Relationships and Asking for Help.

I have a friend who is fairly sick, as of right now and fairly ill on a regular basis. She mentioned to me that she doesn’t even sit in shrine anymore because she feels like she has nothing useful or productive to say. She doesn’t feel moved to pray, give offerings, or anything because all she’ll feel is the desire to ask for healing, for strength, for help. She considers this point a “blah” phase in her relationship with her gods. And I can understand that: depression has a very unique ability to destroy everything you’ve ever thought, felt, or worked toward in a single stroke. As she said, what’s the point in maintaining all of this since she’s always so depressive? And I replied, “Since when is a relationship with the gods supposed to be all about them?”

One of the things that I’ve blogged about often, or mentioned in passing, is that we have to focus on the intent in what we do when we are with our gods. However, I don’t tend to mean that as sacrificing one part of ourselves, or our lives, in the name of the gods. The relationship isn’t one-sided. They get something out of it just as much as we do, which is something that should be taken into consideration. I’ve mentioned this a time or two: they need us as much as we need them. Now, I know that this isn’t a very popular view in a lot of pagans’ paths. But, it’s pretty central to mine. Just because we work with the gods doesn’t mean that we should only be working on things in an effort to forge a relationship with them, to make things better and happy for them, to get on things in an effort to make it all unicorn farts and rainbow gold at the end of all of this.

I’ll post an example.

My work with Hekate is almost entirely about me. I do not do very much for her her or with her outside of my shadow work. Now, while I am a follower of hers and by worshiping her, I’m sure I am giving her my energy so that she can manifest more in my life. So, in that regard, she gets something out of it. However, aside from that aspect, what else does she get out of helping me to fix my past hurts and the past lives that got mucked up because I couldn’t learn a simple lesson? Perhaps she has some big, huge plan or something. Perhaps all of this work has a final result, aside from fixing me and aside from getting my head block against witchy stuff out of the way. But, the real big end result to all of this is a bigger, better, badder, awesome-r, new me. And while I’m sure she’ll take a lot of joy and happiness out of that – pointing to all her friends over a beer and saying, “that’s my work, right there,” all proudly – but I cannot say that the relationship really benefits her in much more than an added dose to the energy or chi that gods need (or I think they need, anyway).

But, it still comes down to our head getting in the way of things. It’s how it is; it’s how life is. I tend to let my head get in the way of my own shit. And there are times where I’ve felt very much like my friend is now. What’s the point? Why does it matter? Who cares? They’re not listening. It’s not like they care. Why should I fill them up with my shit? Oh, I’ve had those moments. And I’ve passed through that tunnel because, after a while, the tunnel lightens. The tunnel ends.

I’ve often remarked that I feel like I’m running towards a cliff with points and razors and sharp implements pointing in my direction. And I’m running towards all of those icky, horrible things, knowing implicitly that if I change direction then I can avert the disaster. But, sometimes, like I said, our head gets in the way. And we can’t make just the tiny trajectory change necessary to get out of our own shit. And that, I think, is when we need the gods the most.

This friend of mine mentioned that she’s tired of asking for help and filling up her shrine with all of the negative thoughts going on inside of her head. She also mentioned that she doesn’t feel comfortable in asking the gods for help, anyway. She says it makes her feel selfish. And I get that, too. More often than not, whenever someone tells me to “turn to the gods” when things are shit, I scoff. It’s not that I don’t turn to them in my own way – I have faith and I’ve been told that I’m rich in it. (I guess someone has to be?) The thing is that I don’t tend to ask them for help with my shit for the same reason. Isn’t that selfish? Isn’t that silly? Why am I bothering a being such as a god or a lwa or a spirit with my own head shit or my own health shit or my own inability to find a job? Maybe I’m taking that time and energy away from someone else or maybe I just feel like my own wants and desires don’t figure into this. But again, at this point, I have to come back to the question I asked her, “since when is a relationship with the gods supposed to be all about them?”

I will admit that I find it funny that me, Miss Bossy Boots who doesn’t ask the gods for anything, is blogging about this. But, I’m going to fill you in on something.

I honestly believe that the gods are here to help us. And it’s not just to help us forge paths, get down with magic and/or heka, give us faith, and to make our lives richer. I think they are around to help us. Hundreds of Christians ask and beg their deity for things on a regular basis. I know this for a fact; my best friend who is Christian tells me that she prays for things often. And she also tells me that her deity will answer her prayers on a regular basis, but it’s a matter of figuring out what the answer is… and that’s faith. She knows the answer will come and she knows the answer may not be something she wants, desires, thinks she needs, or any of that jazz, but she believes a response will come. And in like fashion, I believe similarly.

The thing is that turning to your gods and your spirits when you’re in the thick of shit and unable to get your head out of your own butt is pretty much ingrained in us. I often think certain people fight against it for various reasons. I have the same issue as my friend here: it feels like some selfish douchebaggery to beg for healing or a job or things like that. I also tend to think of it as rationality and logic: pshaw, the gods will deliver. Insert snarky, snotty eyeroll. But, conversely or ironically or what have you, I also believe that they will deliver. It’s all a matter of asking.

I’ll talk about another example.

My friend, Devo, and I have had a lot of conversations in recent months when I’ve been in the thick of my own shit, head up my butt, and sobbing with pain leaking out of my eyes and snot all over the place. Things have been hard. Things have been shit. And she’s always done the back-pat thing that we love and hate at the same time. She seems to know what to say and when to say it and how to say it. She reminds me that, while things may look like they are easy for her right now, things weren’t always that way. She reminds me that she had times where she broke down in shrine on a daily basis, screaming and crying and raging that things were so bad and so awful. And she’s come out of those times and so, in that, I have to have faith that I will. And that our mutual friend will.

It’s a matter of asking and deciding how much intent you put into the asking.

Yet another example.

Tonight, I did my first real, live petition. I’ve never done a major one before. I did a minor one in January or February for some healing for both myself and my son when we were down and out with chest colds. (Also, interesting tidbit on that, since I petitioned both Sekhmet and the Ghede for help with that, I have not been hit with a new chest cold. And I get them at every season change because I’m super special like that.) There were herbs and candles and I got rid of the offerings in proper order. Tonight, I did a new working with Ogun for employment. I won’t get into the specifics of the working, but I finally have broken to the point where I know that no matter what I try and do, my head is in the middle of this job search and it’s fucking me up. I need bigger, badder, and more powerful guns to help me out of this unemployment shit. So, I turned to someone who can help me: Ogun. I would like to say that I put a lot of motherfucking intent into this petition and will for the next week until, next Wednesday, I finish the candle I have for the job and take care of the offerings in proper manner.

Intent, intent, intent.

It keeps coming down to that.

But, really, the big point is that we can turn to our gods just as easily and just as willingly as we see Christians doing. They pray in church. They pray before bed. They pray before they fly. They pray when things are tough and when things are not touch. As much as I have a negative feeling for Christianity, we can at least look to them as an example in this. While not all Christians are “good” Christians and some of them are the kinds that only do things on certain holidays, we have seen similar examples in our pagan paths. But, we should look to the “good” Christians as a good example to follow. And that means praying when things are good and when things are bad. Giving offerings when things are good and when things are bad. Asking for help when things are good and when things are bad.

The example is there, we just have to figure out how to use it in our non-Christian lives.

Letters to the Gods: Ptah.

Dear Ptah, in His Aspect of mesedjer-sedjem,

It was made pretty clear to me recently that I needed to turn to you now because it’s a time of need. I’ve never really looked to you before. Oh, I know about you, of course. You are the husband of my most esteemed lady. And while I don’t always follow her advice, as things get harder, I see her wisdom in her decisions. She chose a few gods to turn to and you were one of them. And so it is to you as a craftsman as well as the one who hears that I turn to now, in my hour of need.

Things are just… blowing up all around me. I know I need to take a break. I need to take breaths. I need to go for a walk and ignore things for a while. I need to just get away and ignore and come back stronger, but I can’t. I’m sitting here in my house and trying not to cry. Today, my car broke. Before, the fix was relatively easy once I had sure-fire solution. But now I know what the problem is. I know what the problem is and I know that it’s probably not easy or simple. It could be a huge problem since it’s transmission related or it could be something as simple as a leak in a tube. I don’t know. And that not knowing gets to me, but also the real fear that I could be without a car when I really need one: job interviews and trying to get my son into school and all of that stuff. I can’t be without a car – what would we do for TH to go to work?

I’m worried and scared right now. I don’t know what to do. The money isn’t the issue, but the next step is. What to do? Where to go? Who to turn to? I don’t know any of these answers except the last one.

I’m turning to you.

I need help.

Satsekhem

Learning in Ma’at, Living in Ma’at, and the Lessons of Ma’at (PBP).

How are we supposed to emulate her after thousands of years, you know? But, we all must strive in that direction because, after all, that is the cornerstone of this path, right?

If you had asked me even a month ago, I would have said that I knew what this entry was going to be out. I would have said that I knew what to write, how to write it, and how to convey my point. I would have said with that smarmy look I can get sometimes, “Oh. I got this.” And now that it’s time to actually write the entry, I realized that I don’t “got” this. I’m sitting here and just staring at the new post screen trying to figure out what to say and how to go about saying it.

You see, a while back, I was accused of not living in ma’at because I refused to stop using a word in what others deemed as an inappropriate context. I, obviously, disagreed and because of that particular issue, I ended up losing people who I thought were friends to me. Be that as it may, I’ve come to a lot of conclusions about words in the past but it was this particular moment, when I was accused of not living in ma’at that I pulled back, pulled away, licked my wounds, and ignored the problem to hand. Now, though, time has passed and whatever pains that this whole thing could have caused are on their way to healing or being forgotten. So, now, it’s time to pull this whole tapestry out and decide what stays, what goes, and what this means for me.

When I was thinking about living in ma’at, I was thinking of it more along the lines of heka. I was thinking more clearly about thinking before I spoke or typed. I was thinking more along the lines of respecting others’ opinions and keeping mine on a tight leash, the reason being because I happen to suffer from Foot-in-Mouth Disease. I tend to say whatever comes into my head, no matter how asinine or mean it could be. I wasn’t actually thinking about living in ma’at inasmuch as I was trying to give heka a more prominent place in my practice. And after the fraças from a few weeks back, I took a step back and had to think about it. Obviously, in censoring myself in one way, I had to start thinking about whether or not I should censor myself in other ways. And while I can respect other people’s feelings about things that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to just stop using a word or a group of words that others find uncomfortable. I can, contrary to popular belief, stop using them in a public venue to keep the peace, but I’d still use them in my personal life, on my blogs, when chatting with friends, etc.

Heka is pretty fucking important to a Kemetic practice. But, I was confusing the whole heka thing with modifying my behavior. I was thinking of it more along the lines of something to put into a practice to keep me from pissing other people off than what it actually is and I was also thinking of it as living in ma’at. It is only an aspect of living in ma’at but the two are not similar. They’re not a pair of twins that we can’t tell apart, which is what I was working with. And that was the problem. That’s where I went wrong and where all the learning that I was doing got stifled. Part of the reason I pulled back from this philosophizing and these abstract thoughts was because, after being accused of not living in ma’at, I sat back and realized that this was the truth of the matter, but not for the reasons the person was doing the accusing. I wasn’t living in ma’at because I was running around with only about a quarter of the information and that information was being put into play improperly.

In effect, I was doing it wrong.

I was forgetting that the whole concept of ma’at is more than its parts; it is the sum total of those parts. I was taking a single aspect to it and just working with it in that way. To me, this was like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest. That guy might get passed the first round but there’s no way he’s going to be able to complete the contest or win it. (Unless it’s a bunch of one-legged men. Then, you know, it’s up for debate there.) This is something I’ve had to realize over and over again throughout my life and that’s part of living in ma’at as well.

You see, I was under the mistaken impression that I had it all figured out. I was under the mistaken impression that my learning in that regard was kind of over. And that’s not how this works. Living in ma’at is an ongoing lesson. This whole wandering spiritual turnpike is one giant lesson over and over again. Sometimes, the lesson is one of those things where you think you get it and then have to revamp your basic approach to things. Sometimes, the lesson is years long in the making (something I’m rapidly beginning to believe this may just be). And sometimes, the lesson is one of those minor moments where you just go “huh.” But all in all, this whole path thing, this whole living in ma’at thing is all about how much you learn and change over the years. It’s not just about how you live your life but who you are, why you are, what you are, and whether or not you can handle that. Are you comfortable with who you are and the basic premise your life has taken? Or, are you one of those people who hide in the shadows because you don’t like what you see? These are aspects to living in ma’at

…and it’s only after I was accused of not living in ma’at that I finally realize that.

So, I guess I should say thank you to that person and to the whole hullabaloo that happened. Without it, I could have been years down the road before I began to revise things. Before I remembered that we are always, eternally, learning. And that’s part and parcel to what living in ma’at is.

Heka Doesn’t Really Work, Apparently, Even if I Think It Does.

Apparently, all I’ve been able to do today is offend people in some form or fashion with the words that I choose. It seems like the second my fingers hit the keys, I’m led down the inexorable path to offend and cause harm to others. Call me crazy, but this seems like the antithesis to what I’ve been striving for with all of this talk about living in ma’at. I’ve been thinking calmly, coolly, and rationally before responding, but apparently, I am careless all over the place and let things slip out without realizing it. This, in turn, has offended other people in various instances. And the shit just keeps rolling downhill. While I know that I’m over-emotional because of it being that time of the month, I also know that the emotional toll of this knowledge stems from the fact that I feel that I cannot express myself properly in any way, shape, or form without causing harm, which in turn is causing harm to the path that I, ultimately, hope that I can tread. I was reduced to tears earlier when I thought about writing this entry, but as time has passed, the emotions fell away and I felt able to write this post… only to learn that the shit storm is still rolling down hill and look at that. Tears, again.

A while back, I used the word “rape” in a context not associated with sexual assault. I was utilizing it in regards to just what a mechanic is liable to do to you if you’re not careful enough. Since the word “rape” does have other definitions and I was utilizing it this context, “an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation.” This was, apparently, not correct. I was called to the carpet, so to speak, and laid out. I explained that the above definition was the version I was using and apologized for having offended. I felt awful in a variety of ways. I felt badly for having brought someone a possible trigger. I felt guilty for having utilized a word that could be so offensive to someone. And then, I was angry that my jest was taken so literally. I felt like I was being singled out and pointed the finger at. Even writing this, I’m feeling all of these things, but mostly overwhelmed. I ended up deciding that I’m kind of done with that quarter. (Just a note: This happened on TC for anyone who cares. I think this has soured me from there for a while.) I cannot change it, but I was so mad. Why should I stem my speech because someone else can’t handle it?

But, heka right? And words have power, right?

Well, I ranted a bit on my FB about it. It was just a place to let off steam. The thing is that I forgot… I am friends on FB with various people who post on this forum and may or may not have seen the original commentary. And guess what? Yes, someone from TC commented on my FB status about it. She raised a point and I conceded that to her, but I don’t agree. I don’t feel the need to curb things because others can be negatively impacted. As I talked about this with the Sister, she even went on to say that in using the words in day-to-day speech, it aids to desensitize us to the traumas we have experienced and I had to agree. Does that mean that I use “rape” regularly? No. Does that mean that I should keep my mouth shut? Apparently because all this has shown me is that my words offend, which means that obviously, I’m not paying too close attention to the heka I’m striving for.

And later, I received an E-mail from my mom about something else. I offended a mutual Christian friend with telling her that I believed the Exodus stemmed from the Hyksos expulsion out of Egypt. This hurt my feelings because, even though we don’t see eye-to-eye and as I said somewhere she doesn’t give me a lick of credit for even saying that the Exodus happened, she is my friend. And while I see that I am running out of spoons for that quarter, it still sucks that I managed to offend her sensibilities. And then, later, my mother told me that things I’ve said have offended her. Even though she is not a practicing Christian, some of the terms I’ve utilized to sarcastically remark about Christian holidays have offended her. And while I was already hurt and wounded from having brought harm to someone else, it was made ten times worse when I realized that my careless attitude has negatively affected my mother as well. Nothing else matters, really, in lieu of my mother’s aches because I will never meet the Christian friend or the person from TC. All that matters is that I stupidly offended my mother.

Even after deciding that I was living in ma’at and taking more care.

Ah. Water works. There are the tears that I’ve been suppressing just about all day.

I feel stupid and retarded. I feel like I’ve made this epic decision to live a better life, but no matter what the hell I try, it still fucking fails. I feel like I can’t do anything right: a stupid foolish little girl who is playing with things beyond her ken. All of this falls down around me and all I can see is that every time I let my fingers spread across the keys or I open my mouth, I end up hurting someone. What’s the point anymore? What is the point to any of this shit anymore? What’s the point to the idols and to the incense and to the offerings and to the walking beside these beings if I can’t even figure out how to speak/type without bringing harm to others?

I’ve always thought of heka as us imbuing power into words. I’ve always thought if it as our conscious decision to put power into the things we say. But, as time goes by, I seem to realize that the words have power on their own. If we ignore them, maybe that power will flee (in the case of words like “rape,” for instance) but we don’t do that. Human beings pay too close attention to those negative things that we give them more power than a girl like me can handle. And at this juncture? This girl just can’t fucking handle it.