Grave Moss & Stars

KRT: Dealing with the Dry Season

This post is part of the Kemetic Round Table, a loose organization of various Kemetic bloggers. Our aim is to answer some of the most common beginner questions with our diverse opinions and different levels of experience, providing a wealth of good options for the Kemetic novice to explore.

Quite conveniently, I’d planned this as a D post for the Pagan Blog Project, so it coming up as the second question for the Kemetic Round Table (albeit phrased as “fallow” instead of “dry”) suits me perfectly!

There is an important distinction in the word choice that I’d like to explain before I get to the meat of the post. “Fallow” is an agricultural term, referring to the necessity of letting a field be unplanted on a cyclical basis so the soil isn’t depleted of its vital nutrients; in other words, fallow is a natural and required period of rest in order to avoid burnout. The dry season, on the other hand, is a deliberate reference to drought, which is a lack of the moisture needed to sustain an environment and allow it to flourish.

The Round Table’s chosen term is “fallow,” but in modern polytheism, the term is usually used to indicate a lack—of the perceptible presence of our god(s), of the drive to perform devotions, or of a general sense of spiritual interconnectedness. To me, that describes more of a dry season than a resting period, hence my use of a different word. (However, some of my fellow Kemetics have taken the literal definition of the word “fallow” to write some wonderful things about how necessary it is to attend to self-growth and Seen-world matters during spiritual fallow times, in order to maintain a healthy life balance. I highly recommend reading them!)

Now, semantics settled, what does one do when a dry season strikes? The symptoms frequently include a restlessness, perhaps even anxiety or depression, an apathy towards spiritual or magical activities, and most commonly, an inability to sense or communicate with one’s god(s). We feel a dearth, and that can drive us to extreme upset and doubt, leading us to question if we’re worthy, if we’ve done something wrong, or if this is even the right path. Strongly spiritual people often crave the experience of the Unseen, and in its absence, our metaphorical throats are parched for even a few droplets of blessed rain.

I have experienced a fallow time—a period where I was so occupied with mundane matters, so busy and drained by work, that my spirituality and my gods had to take a back seat, though not by any conscious choice of mine. It was an unavoidable break, and while I didn’t particularly enjoy the necessity, I did understand why it happened and that it would resolve when my Seen-world life stopped being as crazy. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t panic or doubt myself.

And I have also experienced a dry season (or three), particularly with Sekhmet, before I came to Kemetic Orthodoxy. In my experience, Sekhmet does not coddle; She does not respond when I am being insecure and clingy, and She does not have time or patience for my flailing. There have been stretches of time where She did not grace me with Her tangible presence, and I reacted poorly. I tried to cling more tightly; I tried to demand; I constantly questioned if She even wanted me around at all, if I mattered to Her in the slightest. And in the dry times, She did not deign to reply to my silliness.

I had to learn to wait. Worse, I had to learn to be still in my waiting, to be quiet and without assumption. Worst of all, I had to learn to trust.

I already trusted Sekhmet. I trusted Her with my life, my heart. But I did not trust Her to care enough about me to keep me around; I did not trust myself to be worthy of Her continued attentions. And it was hard as hell to slowly realize that all of my noise and caterwauling was for naught, and that the answer was patience and faith. It is still hard as hell; I might understand it intellectually, but grokking it in my spirit and emotional subconscious is a whole other matter entirely.

The thing that most helped me through the dry seasons was also the thing that made it the hardest to bear: I would reread my journals, where I recorded my experiences with Sekhmet and where I sang Her praises. It reminded me of how much I cared, and while that depth of devotion kept me going when She didn’t pick up the godphone, it also made the lack that much more pronounced. It stung, salt in the wounds, even as it sustained.

And I would have thought, once I had other Netjeru in my life, that a dry time with Sekhmet wouldn’t be as intense. Of course, I was wrong. My relationship with each of my gods is completely independent of my relationships with the others, and it hurt no less when Sekhmet was away, even though I had Ma’ahes and Serqet powerfully present in my daily life. They are unique, my Netjeru, and none of Them replaces the other.

I would love to say that I’m good at surviving dry times now, that going through these deserts with Sekhmet has strengthened me, that I am practiced at doing the right things and biding my time. But I’d be lying. The last dry season with Sekhmet ended only a few months ago, and I handled it with all the gracelessness of a rejected cat: cycling through whining, obnoxiousness, false I-don’t-care, resentment, and then quiet sadness. (Those of you who have demanding cats in your life will grok this pattern.) But the drought only lifted when I stopped making noise, when I let go of expectation, when I chose to endure no matter the wait.

And that’s key, I think—not giving up. Not surrendering to the fear, the anxiety, the doubt. Letting go of your expectations is not letting go of hope; it’s realizing you don’t know what’ll happen, but still trusting something will happen, even if you have no idea when.

For myself, I know dry seasons will come on occasion; so will the more necessary and beneficial fallow times. For each, I hope to answer with patience, with an open mind, without assumptions and expectations, and most importantly, with trust—trust that I am worthy, and trust that They love me, even if I can’t feel it in the moment.

If you enjoyed this post, please check out the other takes on what to do during the fallow times by my fellow Round Table bloggers!