Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category
I stepped into the room, exhausted, and looked at my shrine. I had neither the energy nor the focus to perform even my bare-bones daily rite, not after a full day of work, three hours of a root canal, and an evening of thoroughly cleaning in preparation for a house inspection the following morning.
I dug out three tealights: one red, one cream-colored, and one pumpkin-y. I set them on the offering plate and lit them.
I didn’t say any fancy words or even wash my hands to purify. I simply thanked Sekhmet and Serqet, Who helped me through the dental work, and Ma’ahes, Who comforted me when I was afraid and in pain.
Sometimes, it really is as simple as a candle, a whispered word of gratitude, and a feeling of relief for having made it through.
I did not want to answer this question, posed on the Kemetic Orthodox forums as a way to contemplate the past Kemetic year in preparation for the new one, which begins August 3rd.
My avoidance is probably a sign that I should, indeed, explore my answer. ^^;
Ptah’s year was not a building year in the way I expected, planned, and hoped. My love and I moved to Texas shortly before the Kemetic year changed over; my job relocated me with a very promising paycheck, which we wanted to use to pay off my debts and make some serious inroads on my partner’s student loan debts. I intended to build my skillset, my network, my seniority, and my savings account. My goals were all pragmatism and foundation-shoring.
Instead, I’ve endured some of the rockiest company transitions I’ve ever experienced, a flurry of managers in quick succession, and a wildly fluctuating job description. I have shifted back into my “lean times” budget with admitted reluctance (but also with gratitude that I have lived as dirt-poor before and know how to handle it). My savings account stands empty thus far. I have broadened my professional network, but only because so many people have come and gone through my office. I have increased my seniority by virtue of outlasting the roughest waves, but those who are above me now are newer than me, and so my seniority doesn’t matter a whit as I re-prove myself to them, as I proved myself to their successors and those who came before.
But rather than looking to the bricks I’d hoped to lay down, what about those that were unexpected and strong?
Thanks to the madhouse at work, I am tenfold a better worker in both capacity and skills. I feel I have matured greatly because of what I’ve experienced, grappled with, and adapted to.
With Texas came a house that is beyond wonderful. Our landlords are gracious and superbly respectful of our privacy, we have a fenced back yard, and we have a glorious amount of space that is laid out in an atypical, delightful way. (Our house is horseshoe-shaped!)
My partner and I are even more tightly tied as a family, and we were able to adopt a stray we found recently. Despite already having five cats and a dog, this new dog has fit in unbelievably well in what I had always considered was a household of critters prohibitive of having a bigger dog. My partner and our animals bring me so much joy.
Ptah’s year saw me engage and evolve as a Remetj of Kemetic Orthodoxy, drawing increasingly closer to Ma’ahes and Serqet, and then getting my RPD in November, where I was divined a child of Nebt-het and Hethert-Nut, beloved of Ma’ahes and Serqet. I have deepened and explored my relationships with my gods, and while perhaps I have not done as much as I would have liked to in this regard, I have certainly done more than nothing. :)
My crafting sort of exploded this year, unexpectedly and unplannedly. I wrote music for my gods, including my first-ever experience putting guitar to original lyrics, and I participated in a challenge to write an album in one month. I began painting. I began making sigils. I opened up Mythic Curios with my love. I began making jewelry. I began making sculpeytures. I wrote over 100k on a rough draft of a new novel in the late fall/early winter, then 50k on a rewrite of another novel idea, and almost a dozen short stories in May. I laid down the groundwork for a consistent creative habit that I intend to last me indefinitely – I am never done making things.
I am incredibly grateful for the skillset, family, spirituality, and creativity that I have built in Ptah’s green year. Dua Ptah!
It wasn’t until I was Kemetic that I understood what it meant to serve.
That’s a very strong statement to make, but it’s not untrue. I am an extremely insular person, something of an internet-dwelling hermit, and as an HSP and introvert, I do not do well in situations where I am among throngs of people, working towards a common cause. Public, out-there forms of service and volunteering and communal work have never drawn me in, both in terms of what I can do and what I’d like to do, given my own skills and limitations.
And so the essence of “to serve” has eluded me. It never felt important. I never felt pulled or pushed to do it. My personal focus has been on bettering myself, both internally and externally: being the best person and the best me that I possibly can. That’s how I help the world: by being better to it on a very personal, one-on-one level.
But now I am Kemetic; now I have a community. Now I have gods Who are with me for life, and while Their roles in my life may fluctuate as I grow with Them, and our relationships will certainly evolve, I do not worry that someday They will decide I am unworthy and leave. And while the future is never certain, and I cannot guess how humans will change, I am very fond of and comfortable with my House, my spiritual family, however quiet or communicative I am at any given week.
And for my gods, for my community, there is the question of service. There is the question of what I may offer them/Them, without draining or damaging my own self and life, that will enrich and enhance Them or help them in some way that matters. “Giving back” has been said so much, and it’s only recently that I have any emotional sense of what it really means, what it feels like to mean that.
But now it’s a heart-feeling. And I have been learning how to take action on that feeling, to manifest it into the world in some way that makes me proud and grateful, in some way that honors my gods and helps my community.
I designed a fresh look for the Tawy House website. Web design is something I do well and heartfully, and I was so happy and proud to be able to offer myself up to fill that need.
I am copyediting The Bennu, a Kemetic Orthodox devotional anthology. I am quite good at the layout of text and finding and fixing typos. I am very happy and grateful to be able to assist the project lead, and the community, with an actual publication. I want our words to shine as brightly as those who speak them.
I have, only a few times but hopefully more in the future, crafted for my brethren. I have made necklaces and paintings for the people my spirit loves, and I have touched their gods in doing so, and I am truly honored to be able to offer up the art of my hands to others’ deeply personal practices.
I maintain a prayerbook, and while my consistency in updating it leaves something to be desired, I have not stopped or given up. I have faithfully recorded every single prayer in it since last November. I have prayed over it; I have invoked my gods’ aid; I have offered drink and flame and scented smoke and chocolate. I write each name and each request in a language I have made for myself, and it is holy to me. That is my service to Nebt-het in particular, my Mother, my shadowed lady.
All of this has given me a deeper understanding of giving, of generosity, of offering up oneself in terms of time and energy. I feel I better know what it means when I say “let me know if I can do anything to help,” because I have experienced giving and serving, and the essence of that sacred, zen-like feeling is what pervades when I tell my loved ones that I am there for them, that I will do whatever is within my power to make their lives better if they but ask.
I am still respectful of my own limitations; I am still very self-aware. I know that I do not have infinite time or energy or emotional capacity or material means. I do not offer what I cannot afford to give, and what I can afford to give varies by day and by need. I do not compromise my own health or life in order to assist others.
But it means something more now when I offer to help, because I feel it instead of just think it, and I am more compassionately willing to act on what is asked for. That, for me, is a wonderful feeling.
I am not done learning about service and how it feels. But I have come a very long way in the past year, and for that, I am immensely grateful.
I am devoted to my gods. Except I’m not sure I can say that truthfully, because I’ve never explored in-depth what “devotion” means to me, what forms it takes, and so I can’t know whether or not I’m devoted.
If I were a bettin’ man, I’d reckon that devotion can be boiled down to giving one’s time, attention, and energy to something. No monetary contribution can make or break devotion; no physical object can, either. I can be devoted without a penny or statue to my name; I can have all the money and icons in the world without being devoted.
But time, and attention, and energy – those are things pretty much everyone has, in whatever quantity and quality. If I’m the uber-busy parent of three young children and CEO of a start-up company, my giving five minutes a day is going to mean a whole hell of a lot; if I’m working part-time and chillin’ out, enjoying life, then maybe five minutes isn’t going to cut it. Devotion is, in my eyes, something that adjusts to fit each individual. Likewise with energy and attention – some people do not have the physical or mental capacity to give as much energy and focus as others, and that’s totally okay. Devotion should be a subjective, personal standard. (I acknowledge that, many times, Netjer will request a certain standard of us, but for the sake of this post, I’m only exploring self-set expectations. I can’t predict what the gods will want of me, after all!)
So, what’s my standard for myself?
I practice mindfulness, so staying mindful of my gods is part and parcel of it. Remembering what They would like from me, what They expect from me, and how I might be able to include Them in my life. I am not terribly ceremonial, so I’m not going to hold myself to an unrealistic standard of performing ritual or senut X times a week. I value spontaneity and flowing with the moment, so any given standard of doing something a number of times per week or month is likely going to feel forced– but if I lack a guideline, I may well wind up doing too little for my own tastes.
I work a demanding web job, and I deal with migraines, and I find I lose one or two days a week to something or other that’s less than voluntary and ideal– so is it unrealistic or just optimistic to think I might be able to “touch base” with each of my gods, my Mothers and my Beloveds, once a week at minimum? If I keep myself flexible, I think it might work out quite well.
My devotion takes many forms, all of them valid in my eyes. If I spend time maintaining this website, writing in this blog, and researching the Netjeru I honor, that’s still giving my time, energy, and attention to Them, either directly or indirectly. If I keep my virtual space as clean as my altar, keep everything well-organized so that the energy flows, that counts, too. I don’t have to be in front of my shrine or in deep trance to experience and honor Them, and I need to keep that in mind, ’cause it’s pretty easy for me to think I can only talk to Them in certain places, under certain circumstances. But They’re everywhere, and that’s why I wear jewelry for each of Them daily – to be able to touch Their symbols and reconnect with Them throughout the day.
There are always plenty of ways I can interact with Netjer. Physical exertion, be it exercise or martial arts, is my tribute to Sekhmet. Spending time breathing the wind outside and watching the clouds or stars is a way to be closer to my Mothers. Stepping outside at sunset to honor Ma’ahes is a wonderful respite from the daily grind. A simple prayer – be it a written letter to a god or a spoken refrain while I drive to work – grounds me in mindfulness and gratitude. And of course, any creativity worked in Their names – painting or beading or sculpeying or musicking – is one of my favorite ways to bring me close to Them and to offer the best of my hands and heart to Them.
I love my gods, and I would like to count myself as devoted, so I will keep taking small, sustainable steps to see and honor Them in my life.
So, after some contemplation, I have decided to have a WordPress blog in addition to my Dreamwidth journal. I will crosspost all WP entries over to Emky for the ease of those who prefer DW to WP, and I may still use DW to post more informal and personal friends-locked entries. You’ll be able to comment here or there, whichever pleases you. Mostly, for those who dig WP, I’m here and followable now. :D
My heart is flying right now and colored a familiar shade of red.
FenCon was fucking amazing. I have never been to a con before, but this one was about 15 minutes from where we work, and J was so excited about it because Joe Bethancourt would be there. It was Friday evening, Saturday all day, and then most of the day Sunday (closed at 5).
I met a fellow Sekhmet follower, one of the ladies in the dealer room who was selling beautiful jewelry that was way too brilliant and vivid for me. I bought a beautiful antler-tip pendant with subtle curly carvings on the top from her, the only item that she had that jived with my style; I kept putting it down and picking it back up again, which is usually a sign that I’mma get something.
I was wearing a silver Celtic/Nordic lion pendant, and she said, “I see you like Nordic stuff,” and I said, “Well, yeah, Celtic, Nordic, and Egyptian.” She said, “I’m right there with you on the Egyptian stuff,” so I did what I will occasionally, rarely do, and I pulled the Sekhmet pendant from beneath my shirt and showed her.
She broke into a grin. “Sekhmet!”
“You recognize Her!” I replaced the pendant beneath my shirt. “Not many do.”
She smiled at me. “She’s my goddess.”
My heart leapt at those words. Click, there you go – two strangers beaming at each other across a card table, excited and happy and a little awed at making that connection, at sharing something intimate and unusual.
PS~ There was a live SJ Tucker concert in Redmond this weekend, and it was recorded! You can watch it here – there are a lot of songs I haven’t heard before, which surprises and delights me. =3
So I read this, which compares spirituality to martial arts as an intro and asks if your spirituality is good enough for you. (My phrasing, not the writer’s.)
And I thought about it. Hmm. What has my spiritual path, in all its twists and turns, done for me?
I took up martial arts in Sekhmet’s name, which deeply affected my self-identity and my physical health and my ability to relate to people, all for the better.
At Sekhmet’s request, I learned (and continue to learn) an amazing amount about ancient Egypt, not just religion and mythology but also magic and their forms of ethics, which parallel nicely my Eastern-based ones. And I have bonded deeply with friends and met wonderful people, found an entire community in fact, through this.
I completely revolutionized my personal paradigm in order to drop all the shoulds and keep only what was true to me, in experience and belief. This process also meant leaving my attempt at being a hard polytheist and adopting the “diamond metaphor,” which I later learned represents what’s called monolatry. Conveniently, this is the Kemetic Orthodoxy point-of-view – and my paradigm-shift had Sekhmet as its catalyst.
I committed to improving and caring for myself, in all ways. Part of that was physical work, again in Sekhmet’s name, but all the emotional and mental bits have been zen-based, working towards peace and compassion and gentleness. That zen work, seeking to live in Tao (and in ma’at, as it turns out), has been possibly my greatest challenge.
“An’ it harm none, do as ye will” was also a world-changer for me. The harm-none part goes hand in hand with the above-mentioned peacefulness, but the other part stands out brightly: I can do whatever I want. I don’t have to play by the rules or abide by expectations. I can make my own life, forge my own path, and seek my own fortune. So I have, and I have a wonderful, amazing, rather unpredictable life; it is not as adventurous as some, nor as secure as others, but it is mine, and I dearly love it.
My entire worldview is entrenched deeply in the natural world, its soil and its creatures, its rhythms and its cycles. This has not so much changed or catalyzed my life as grounded it, buried it with the roots of the mountains, kept it safe and solid as long as I remember to reach down and touch the earth. I understand more, about anything and everything, when I look at things through animal eyes. I grok the human animal, and I find more compassion for my fellow living people of all species by knowing how the brain and body work. Life makes more sense when my heart lives in the soil.
Yeah, I think I’m pretty okay with my spirituality. :D
Renenutet is barley-wheat-golden, the color of indirect sunlight, the softness of grain and the practicality of threshing it. Harvest-goddess, protective of the crops before and after they’re taken from the fields, and likewise protective of and involved with the vineyards. Mother-goddess, divine nurse, nurturing and sustenance-giving. Cobra, fiery-eyed to enemies (but not nearly so strong or purely-aggressive as Sekhmet), linked to the uraeus and thus to the Eye of Ra (but softly, distantly, not as much as Wadjet). Sun-golden and harvest-bountiful and earthy-practical and loving.
Ptah is… pale blue but not directly, like the color is filtered through an open room and barely seen as an aura/overlay. Beautiful Of Face, with skin like faience and stars, bearded and smooth-headed. Craftsman, patron of artisans, blue-collar in that He works with His hands where most the other Names don’t, but sophisticated in that He is a master at what He creates. Gentle, quiet-voiced; not the epitome of compassion and coddling, but relaxed, unassuming, understanding. Sovereign in what He does and is, and allows others, including humans, to be sovereign in what they do and are; there is no pressure to conform or to change or to Do/Be This Thing. I feel like I could sit in the room where He’s working and not need to say anything, just be comfortable in the silence, in the dim softly-lit air that is somehow dusty, maybe with sawdust or just murky sunlight through small windows. Craftsman-Ptah is Creator-Ptah, and it makes sense to me that He could make all that exists and then take joy in working physically, building structures and other things within that creation. Other than the pale blue aura, all the color I see with/around Him is in browns– woods, dust, muddy golden light through a needs-cleaning window.
Yinepu… I blame my sense-impression of Him on someone (I think Per-Sabu.org?) saying the key word “cthonic” and cuing up in my head all sorts of visceral reactions and sensations/imagery normally reserved for Celtic deities, for Cernunnos. See, Celtic deities feel like home, like all that’s in the earth and a part of it, thickly elemental and tangible and sensory; Kemetic deities feel clear and spacious, open, bright, but not perfectly clean or flawless– just delineated, complex but well-lit. If my experiences are a tree, Celtic is the twining roots and Kemetic is the stretching branches. But Yinepu bridges the gap between Kemetic clarity and Celtic visceralness, with strong arms and black fur, a sense of the underground that feels familiar to me, an animal force matched with a thinking mind and a feeling spirit/soul. Silence, and coolness, and a heavy male-canid presence, a crouching, a waiting. No hostility or even intimidation, no fear, and probable considerable gentleness/compassion for the dead or the (more spiritual, more shamanic) death-rebirth process– but also not a bouncy, tail-waggy jql-pup. I am intrigued and, while not specifically drawn to Him, I don’t know what to do when I get that strong a sense of Someone but find out more about Them.