Grave Moss & Stars

Archive for the ‘Magic & Ritual’ Category

a meditational Tool

So, has anyone else ever meditated to Tool’s Parabol + Parabola?

Click here to hear both songs together.

parabol

so familiar, and overwhelmingly warm
this one, this form I hold now

embracing you, this reality here
this one, this form I hold now

so wide-eyed, and hopeful
wide-eyed, and hopefully wild

we barely remember
what came before this precious moment

choosing to be here, right now
hold on, stay inside

this body, holding me
reminding me that I am not alone

this body
makes me feel eternal
all this pain is an illusion

parabola

we barely remember who or what came before this precious moment
we are choosing to be here, right now
hold on, stay inside
this holy reality, this holy experience
choosing to be here in

this body
this body holding me
be my reminder here that I am not alone in
this body
this body holding me
feeling eternal, all this pain is an illusion

alive

in this holy reality, in this holy experience
choosing to be here in

this body
this body holding me
be my reminder here that I am not alone in
this body
this body holding me
feeling eternal, all this pain is an illusion

twirling ’round with this familiar parable
spinning, weaving ’round each new experience
recognize this as a holy gift and celebrate this
chance to be alive and breathing
a chance to be alive and breathing

this body holding me reminds me of my own mortality
embrace this moment
remember, we are eternal
all this pain is an illusion

PBP Fridays: C is for Chaos Magic

I have a couple of chaos magic books, highly recommended to me by some of my energy-working friends. I got them and, as many of my books do, they incubated on my bookshelf for a little while before I picked up Condensed Chaos: An Introduction to Chaos Magic by Phil Hine. I read the first third or so of the book before I needed to sleep for the night, and in reading that chunk of text, I realized something.

I’ve been a chaos magician for years without ever knowing it had a name.

It was an approach I’d developed from my own observations and experiences, my own theories and studies into various paths. If I had to name it, before I knew other people had already named it and also practiced it, I probably would have referenced the archetype of Shapeshifter in some way. Chaos magic is all about shapeshifting – being fluid and changing your skin to suit your needs, your preferences, and your situation. But, instead of just changing your behavioral patterns and strength/weakness attributes, which is more of a personal self-shifting practice, and instead of a long-term paradigm-shift, where you uproot and revamp how you view the world and its people and your own self, chaos magic is action-shifting.

In other words, chaos magic lets you grab any tool from any toolbox. It doesn’t matter if this tool is “real” when viewed through the lens of your usual paradigm; it matters if the tool is useful. Does it work? Does it bring about the desired effect for you, in your wonderfully subjective experience?

Because everything is subjective. Psychology backs me up on this; if you ever want to realize how amazingly fluid and flexible our brains are, read A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives by Cordelia Fine. Even our “factual” memories get edited and adjusted over time. We do have objective truths in our present world – gravity works, yes – but our experiences are so very subjective that our personal realities become far more subjective than objective. And so, if, as chaos magic maintains, “nothing is true – everything is permitted,” well, then. We have no need to limit ourselves.

If nothing is true, then anything can be true. You can put on any set of glasses through which to see the world. You can move through different magical traditions as you need. You can use different spiritual techniques as you need. You can interact with any Unseen entity (that’s willing to interact with you). You can even engage with fiction if it works for you! (And it does for many of us. What is fiction but newly-created mythologies in the modern day?) There’s nothing holding you back but how far your mind can expand to hold these varying paradigms within it. Chaos magic is all about personal experience and gnosis, not dogma.

“Rather than trying to recover and maintain a tradition that links back to the past (and former glory), Chaos Magick is an approach that enables the individual to use anything that s/he thinks is suitable as a temporary belief or symbol system. What matters is the results you get, not the ‘authenticity’ of the system used.” – Phil Hine, author of the aforementioned Condensed Chaos: An Introduction to Chaos Magic.

Important Note: Chaos magic is not an excuse for mistreating your Unseen contacts or for cultural appropriation – all the usual guidelines of working magic responsibly still do apply. Do your research into this method/those entities so that you can be smart and courteous and effective in your work. In fact, chaos magic puts a strong emphasis on practice and putting in the work to any given magical endeavor that you want to fully learn or that you want to succeed. Chaos magic means that you have many roads that you can choose to walk – not that you get a flying car!

Interestingly, I tie chaos magic into compassion, especially in the zen sense. If I practice chaos magic, if I can set foot in the Celtic deep-soil-and-old-bones tradition and also set foot in the hot-sands-and-dry-winds of Kemetic Orthodoxy, then can I not understand how easy it is to change paradigms? Can I not understand how it is that another person lives a different paradigm than I – and can I not extend to them my ability to listen and learn about that paradigm in the same way that I learn other magical paradigms? If I can understand them, even if I may not like all aspects of their paradigm, can I not offer them my compassion and my fellowship as another living creature of this world? If I can shift my shape, can I not imagine how the shape of another person would feel to wear?

Chaos magic is about tools. But not all tools are magical – plenty are perfectly mundane, the ones we use in constructing and deconstructing our interpersonal relationships. And chaos magic can apply there, too, like it can just about everywhere. It’s flexible like that.

This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.

hetep-di-nisu(t) // an offering which the King gives

In the past little while, I have accumulated a startling number of offerings for my gods, to the point of having one for each of Them. Tonight, I felt the urge to sit in shrine and give Them Their gifts, since I found myself physically and mentally pure enough to do so in good spirits.

I put on background music – my own personal mix CD of god-songs and spirit-songs – and washed my hands. Lit incense, lit candle, knelt down. Poured a libation of green tea in four cups – I only have four, but I was offering to five gods, so I gave Sekhmet the candle for Her own. (She didn’t seem to mind.)

To Sekhmet, I offered a statue of Her, gold and standing tall, a gift from a good friend.

To Nebt-het, I offered the painting I’d done, and I rededicated to Her the rosary that J had converted to a necklace for me.

To Hethert-Nut, I offered the pendant I’d crafted and the accompanying necklace that J had made, an effort of love from both of us.

To Ma’ahes, I offered a lion plaque that I’d had for years that seemed to suit Him, as well as an ornately decorated Kemetic dagger, another gift from the aforementioned good friend.

To Serqet, I offered a small gold statue of Her in Her form of a woman, a gift from my sister.

I sat with Them and talked for a while, comfortable in front of my beautiful shrine and the objects that represented my spiritual family. I also shut up for a while and listened, counted my breath in time with the song that was playing, relaxed. I thought of more things I want to do for Them – Sekhmet’s painting, a full-length song for Nebt-het, Hethert-Nut’s other painting, a sculpey-ture for Ma’ahes, and the song I’m working on for Serqet.

I was happy. I told Them goodnight, reverted the green tea libations, thanked the candle and blew it out, and found the little Serqet statue something to stand on so She could stay in Her preferred corner, in the shadow of my akhu shelf-shrine.

I am happy. Dua Netjer!

The Blessing of Brigid

From The Virtual Abbey:

Our celebrations, always full of spontaneity, are grounded in our own liturgical traditions. On Brigid’s day, we culminate with this song adapted from “The Blessing of Brigid” in Carmina Gadelica:

One group sings over and over:

I am under the shielding of Brigid each day,
I am under the shielding of Brigid each night.

While others sing in counterpart:

Brigid is my comrade-woman,
Brigid is my maker of song,
Brigid is my helping-woman,
my choicest of women,
my guide.

This is incredibly heartfelt and gorgeous.

saying grace

From here:

Finally, I remembered the most beautiful form of grace a Kemetic Orthodox knows, the short formula spoken over offerings right before they are presented to the gods and goddesses in Their shrines. One holds out their hands as if preparing to receive something — because you are — and says:

In Kemetic:
hotep Netjer em shabu en imenti her iabi

Or, in English:
May Netjer be satisfied with the repast to the right and to the left.

Immediately after this pronouncement, the spirit of Netjer descends upon the food, partakes of its spiritual substance, and makes the food holy, to be shared with all who were part of the ritual.

serving

Just about everyone seems to have dry spells, periods where they have trouble being as immersed in their spirituality as they’d like. Whether it comes about from major life changes, a hectic day-to-day routine, a bout of depression or anxiety or other emotional crash, or just entirely randomly, I’ve heard so many people refer to it happening that I can’t say I feel alone when it hits me.

I lit a candle for Nebt-het today and poured Her Her favorite-so-far drink, and I sat before my shrine and played guitar for Her. I wanted– really, intensely wanted– to feel Her presence as I had before, a tall slender woman in violet-grey with long, cool fingers.

But my head was cloudy, and while I felt strangely certain She was around, I couldn’t for the life of me actually pick up on Her presence with my senses as I normally could. It was hard for me to focus, though I tried.

Instead, I wrote in my prayerbook and prayed over it, sending my words and hopes to Netjer on behalf of other people.

And I want to find other ways I can serve– serve Her, my Mother, serve Netjer, uphold ma’at. I will donate money to causes where I can, I will spread the word when I can, but that feels like the very least I can do, not something that’s really done out of service to Netjer. I want to think about what else I can do, in terms of a short-notice not-formal-volunteering thing. Putting in time at the local shelter or soup kitchen is a wonderful thing, but not something that can be done spontaneously at 11h30 at night, you know?

Is posting on the forums and welcoming my siblings in Kemetic Orthodoxy a service to Netjer? Is praying for the sick, the injured, the passed a service in my Mother’s name, She who is guide to the newly dead and comfort to those grieving? Does it really matter and have an impact when I do these tiny, intangible things? Am I really making the world better, even in the smallest possible way, or am I taking a token action only to make myself feel like I am?

I don’t know the answer. I might never know. But I want to find concretely Good Things to do when I feel the need to offer some part of my time and energy to the world in gratitude for being alive in it.

my heart is flying high on outstretched wings

Oh oh oh. Oh, my friends. November 21st shall forevermore be a day of celebration.

Yesterday, I was divined a child of Nebthet-Nit-Seshat and Hethert-Nut, and a beloved of Ma’ahes and Serqet. Nekhtet!

(An explanation of the divination for those unfamiliar can be found here!)

I’m not sure if I can write about this coherently, but I’m going to try very hard. :) The opening message from my Akhu, my ancestors, was an overwhelmingly positive one, all blessings, all encouragement that I’m doing well, all reassurances that I can do and have what I work hard to achieve. I am so very grateful for that, and I will buy them flowers in thanks, and I will start work on the little Akhu shrine that I planned out over the weekend. I hope to pick up a shelf tonight for that very thing.

I am immeasurably delighted and surprised by my Mothers. I mean, yes, I’ve had some very pleasant interactions with Nebt-het before, and I had been intrigued by Nit (a very old hunter-goddess with associations with the primordial waters of the Nun) and Seshat (librarian goddess!), but for Her (yes, singular, as They are One) to be my Mother… I am awed. (And of course, Djeri and my sister were all “I never would have guessed but it makes perfect sense!” when they found out. XD)

Hethert-Nut is Hethert as the night sky. She came outta nowhere; She’s the only one I had never had relations with before yesterday. However, while in a teaching chat with Hemet (the leader and founder of Kemetic Orthodoxy) a while ago, Her name came up and immediately had a color association with it– this rich, deep, beautiful royal purple, like silks. It’s not exactly common for me to get a color-vibe before even encountering a Netjeru, so I asked about Her, intrigued, and was given a little more information, but that was all until yesterday, when She was pronounced my Mother along with Nebthet-Nit-Seshat. And I was just… instantly enveleoped in Her color, and it was joyful and smiling and felt like a hug from a warm spring night with fireflies and stars and night-blooming flowers. ♥

Ma’ahes… oh, Ma’ahes. I have become very close with Him over these past couple months, and I regret that I haven’t written more about Him on here, but I will make a separate post that explains our short but rich history soon. He is a male Eye of Ra, a lion-god, colored like the sun and usually seen as a warrior and/or executioner of enemies. I see Him as human-animal, with a lion’s head and tail, paw-like hands and feet, and a muscular man’s body. Sometimes He has tawny-golden fur, but more often, I see His skin like magma, blaze-orange shining past patches of blackened char; to me, He is the setting sun, the transition between the golden glory of day and the encompassing darkness of night. I was so hopeful that He would show up in my divination, and so happy, so relieved, when He did. To me, He is also a god of storms, and it was thundering all yesterday evening, a soothing and grounding background to the RPD itself and my bubbling-over excitement.

And Serqet! Serqet, the Netjeru I have written about most in here, for all my work with Her in prayers to help me heal from poisons and guard me against new ones. Until recently, when I felt Her presence– to accept the offerings a few weeks ago, to choose the colors for Her painting, and all of yesterday, when I wasn’t wearing my scorpion necklace, yet felt Her dull-amber energy drape around me like the collar of a cloak, like an embrace, and She felt happy– I would not have guessed She would show up. My sister and my partner both placed their bets on Her being here, and well, they win. :D I am grateful and happy that She is here.

I will stop here, and leave essence o’ joy scattered in my wake, and come back as soon as I can to write a little bit more, especially about Ma’ahes, as I have been amiss in talking about Him.

So very happy and so very grateful, to my gods, to my community, to my Akhu, to Hemet. Nekhtet!

as promised

I said I would, and so I did: I got a shelf, got frames that suited my mom’s mom and dad’s dad, found pictures that fit, and put it all together. The flowers you see were picked from my own yard (and I apologized profusely as I snipped them). The bird is symbolic of bau, which were often shown as human-headed birds, and Akhu, who are often compared to stars in the night sky. The only thing missing is my grama’s doodle of my dog, which will go under her photo when I find it.

Hail Akhu, known and unknown, who shine as stars upon us; from you have I come. May the shrine, the flowers, and the water please you. Thank you for being a light around me, even when my eyes are closed.

a personal prayerbook

On both Kemetic Orthodoxy and KIN forums, there are places for people to request prayers. Until now, I have avoided those forums, being far too susceptible to news of others’ pain and misfortune. I would love to lend a voice, but keeping a strong and positive spirit while praying for terrible things is frequently beyond my capacity, let alone doing that for several different things in a row.

However, I figured out a way that I can give my prayers to those who need them without dropping myself into a state of reflection upon all the terrible things in the world. I bought a blank book, wrote on the inside cover a book blessing and caveats for safety (such as “for the highest good for all concerned” and “with harm to none”), and wrote the dates, names, and prayers inside for those who had posted recently.

The key, however, is that I haven’t written anything in English. It’s all in Kalash, a conalph of mine (visual example). I can write fluently in Kalash, but I can’t read it just by skimming like I can English, so I can write something down without being distracted and weighed down by all the prayers I’d written previously.

Thus, I can pray for those prayers written within to be heard and answered, focus on the book as a whole, and stay steady and positive.

It’s a similar to the idea of a sigil or other symbol, created to represent a goal/desire in other forms of magic (chaos magic, I’m lookin’ at you) – you create the sigil in full consciousness, then focus on just the sigil, so that your subconscious mind gets the work done and your intellect doesn’t get in the way. That’s an oversimplified explanation, but you get the idea. So, rather than my intellect lingering on sadness, I can funnel positive energy into the book itself and give the prayers within a boost.

I’ve filled two pages so far. It feels good to be doing this.

giving thanks

I have been praying to Serqet for protection against poison, and healing from old poisons, since we got to Texas and I made this necklace as a focal point/talisman. I have never felt Her presence, but I have continued to thank Her for Her help. I’ve had a handful of not-so-random dreams with Her touch on them, so I don’t feel like I’m praying into silence.

Last night, a situation was defused that had the potential to be particularly venomous. (That’d be why you saw my thank-you prayer yesterday.) Because of the enormity of what could have been and wasn’t, I wanted to give Her offerings– and, for the first time, I felt Her choose what She wanted among the options I laid out.

I lit a candle and incense at shrine, knelt, and presented the drink and food that She wanted. I thanked Her again and again. And, to my surprise, I felt Her presence as She consumed the offerings, and when She was done, I reverted them gratefully.

I tend to have strong color associations with Netjeru, to the point where the color I’m picking up indicates Who’s around, to the point where I can distinguish even similar shades, like Wesret-orange and Ma’ahes-orange. I would have expect Serqet to be the yellow of the deathstalker scorpion, but She wasn’t– Hers was more of an old, dusty amber color. It’s the first time I’ve gotten enough of a sense of Her to perceive any color at all, and I’m honored that She stepped in and accepted Her offerings.

Dua Serqet for all Her help, past, present, and future.

a moment of cat

I performed the ritual of senut today. (Non-Kemetic people: It’s the main formal-personal ritual of the religion, involves purifying oneself, making offerings, and spending time in the presence of Netjer/God/specific deities.)

In the middle of it, when I had settled cross-legged in front of my altar and started to zen out, Deathcat climbed into my lap. Purring audibly and intermittently, she curled up, groomed herself, and went to sleep.

Obeying the almighty rule of The Cat Bed Does Not Move, I stayed in ritual about twice as long as I would’ve otherwise, until she woke up and decided that me slowly moving my leg was enough impetus to abandon lap.

a song for Nebt-het

My sister is doing some amazing work with writing songs for Netjeru, and thus inspired, I took the little thing I wrote for Nebt-het and a candle and my beloved classical guitar to the bedroom. (J was in the living room, alternately rocking out on his electric guitar or coffee-painting.)

Let me preface this: I am not a confidant guitarist. I am learning. I know a few chords, and I haven’t played regularly since before the move, so I am rusty in the muscles. I am blessed to occasionally be able to write songs in terms of vocal melody + words, but putting chords to it is still a massive challenge to me, and one I have not attempted more than once or twice, ever. Hell, I can’t even get a strum pattern down beyond a simple 1-2-3-4.

So, I lit the candle, pulled up the words, and sang through it a few times, then started fumbling with chords. I didn’t set up formal ritual and invite Nebt-het in, but I made it abundantly clear that She was welcome to sit with me and/or help with the music for Her minisong. Due to several recent silences in response to my invitations, my expectations were low, but to my cautious delight, I got a sense of Her presence fairly quickly.

Nebt-het, to me, is very tall and very slender, with long slim hands that are cool to the touch. Her color is a velvety purple-tinted medium-light grey. She was constantly behind me, slightly to the left, just as She had been when I lit a candle for Her on Her birthday and wrote the minisong in the first place. After working on it for a while, I figured out all the chords and could, stutteringly, play and sing at the same time.

I offered Her more blackberry-grape water when She wanted some; it was what I had given Her on the first night. (The color of that drink, too, became Her color.) The candle burned low and blue as I kept going. Despite the struggle of doing something hard and new, I was gleeful. I was putting music to words and I was the one who wrote the words and I could sing and play and I even had a strum pattern. Holy crap.

I ran out of energy, and my callus-less fingertips were raw; the candle extinguished itself when She said goodnight to me. I told Her I would do better, keep practicing and make it sound better, and She told me that what I had done was enough. Not in the sense of “no, stop here,” but in the sense that what I had done was perfectly sufficient, completely worthy. I tried to wrap my head around that idea when She thanked me for the music, and I thanked Her (about fifty bajillion times) for sitting in with me.

I am going to try to get smooth enough with the chords and strumming to record a version so you can hear, but for now, I wanted to record this experience. Whatever comes of it, I am grateful and happy and blessed.

happy Kemetic New Year!

Happy Wep Ronpet! Today is the first day of the Kemetic new year, a year of green and building under the guidance of Ptah, creator and patron of artisans and craftsmen, consort of Sekhmet. I like Ptah a lot and was leaning towards Him before the year’s oracle was announced, so it fits extra-well to me.

I rather like having two new years – one in January, my personal new year, and now one almost perfectly opposite it, for Kemetics. More fresh starts and renewal energy. Is good.

In the tradition of Wep Ronpet activities, one makes a representation of Ap-p (Apophis), the snake that embodies isfet, the monster that Ra in His solar barque must defeat each night so that the sun may rise at dawn– and then one slays that representation.

J made a pansnake (pancake-snake), and we slew it with great fanfare. It bled boysenberry syrup. I left the severed head, along with a blood-colored drink, on my altar.

We’re a caring, gentle people… :D

Since I could not do the ritual of the Red Pot, where one smashes a terracotta pot to symbolically destroy the thing(s) holding one back, I made do with fire magic instead. I’d acquired a copper bowl for exactly such a purpose, in Sekhmet’s name, a while back, and this was the first time in using it. (Anyone familiar with magic will probably already know what I did – write down the thing(s) I want destroyed, burn the paper, scatter/bury the ashes. Standard stuff.) I felt better afterwards.

And then I went the hell to sleep because it was almost 2 am and I was exhausted.