Grave Moss & Stars

Posts Tagged ‘nebt-het’

Traveling with Gods

Next month, my partner and I will make our yearly roadtrip to visit my family; we’ll stay with my mom and her fianc√© in the Appalachian Mountains where I grew up and spend a weekend in Ocean City with my sister and her family. It is one of the high points of my year to see the people I love and be in the places that crack my heart open and let the sun in. The mountains I come from and the sea I pilgrimage to are both beloved places for me, and they nourish my ka like few other areas can.

I live in Texas, and it was not until I was living here that I really encountered any Kemetic gods outside of Sekhmet. I will not always live in Texas, and I’ve thought many times on how the change of land will affect my spirituality and my relationship with the Netjeru in my life. Traveling to see my family – in the Appalachians, in Ocean City, in Seattle, in Nevada – gives me a glimpse of how my gods manifest in vastly different places.

Ma’ahes, in particular, is intensely associated with aspects of Texas: the sweltering summer heat and the long, orange sunsets. When I go to the mountains that I love, be they the Appalachians or the Rockies or the Sierra Nevadas, I don’t see His orange light in the west at the close of every day. In most of these places, the particular combination of humidity and 100+ degrees doesn’t occur. When I walk outside in the summer in Texas, the first breath I take is His, and He thaws me from the ice of the overwhelming air-conditioning that most public buildings provide.

But when I leave Texas, Ma’ahes changes subtly, and I find Him in other summers, other sunsets, other flashes of His vivid, liquid orange. In the Appalachians, He is the autumn leaves; in Nevada, He is the stretching, dry desert; in Colorado, He is the red rocks of the mountains.

And Ma’ahes is not the only one to adapt to His shifting surroundings. Nebt-het touched my face with snow last winter in Nevada, and I stood breathing Her chill until I was covered in slow-motion flakes; I had never before realized She was snow, but in that moment, in that place, She stood with me outside a warm house and wrapped me in Her calm, cold presence like a cloak against the wind.

So I take my gods with me where I go, and it is both a challenge and a delight to spot Them in Their other skins, the bodies They form out of the land around me.

akhu work

When I asked if I should explore my genealogy in service to my akhu, Nebt-het answered with a firm yes.

So, two weeks ago, I picked up a 14-day free trial to Ancestry.com, which seemed like a good place to start. At the time, I only knew two names of my akhu, my ancestors: my dad’s dad and my mom’s mom, both of whom passed when I was a teenager.

My research exploded. In a single night, I found some 40+ new names of my akhu. Some I had heard in passing from family members but hadn’t memorized; others were entirely new. I found out that my great-great-grandmother’s nickname was the same as the one I bestowed upon my sister when she was 12ish and still use to this very day, which was a delight. I discovered that my great-grandfather is buried three hours away; I had no idea any of my bloodline had been in Texas.

Ironically, my ability to find older generations along either of my “named” lines (that is, my parents’ last names, rather than those who married in) stymied me until my mom sent me a tiny family tree that filled in a couple crucial names… and, last Sunday, I put in more hours following those leads. Determined to make the most of my free trial, I was up until 3 am (thank gods for a holiday weekend!) that Sunday, going through records and tracing the ever-widening web of my akhu.

I found out that my great-aunt was an artist… and an amateur drag-racer in the sixties. I saw pictures of her husband as a child. I came across my great-grandmother, whose name grabbed and held my attention like a punch every time I saw it, and despite having zero personal information for her or photos of her, I realized I had a strong and persistent mental image in my head, unbidden. I found out that an akh-by-marriage had served in the First Special Service Force in WWII, and that his unit’s name was almost identical with the name of the elite unit of a military fantasy novel I’ve been writing. I found pictures of that akh’s sister, whose personality and badassery shone brightly through those photos.

I have been, throughout this entire process, utterly floored by not only what I’m discovering, but at my own reactions to the process. I have never been attached to or overly interested in my blood family outside of my very direct relatives (parents, three grandparents, and my mom’s sister). My own emotional responses as I’m finding photos, obituaries, and just raw names of my akhu are strange and new and strong. This is definitely work I need to do, work that is worth doing, but it is sobering and exciting all at once. One of my akhu lived to 101; one of them died at 15. There are stories here that I can sense under the surface, but that I will probably never know, except possibly by personal gnosis.

This is hard, and good, and worthwhile, and I am grateful to Nebt-het for pushing me to do it, and I am grateful to my akhu for being my akhu.

PBP Fridays: Q is for Qebshenef

Qebshenef is one of the Four Sons of Heru (Horus), a group of netjeri (spirits) associated with the canopic jars that hold the organs of the mummified deceased. The Four Sons also protect the throne of Wesir (Osiris) in the Unseen and assist the deceased through the Duat. Each of the Sons is protected by one of the funerary goddesses and associated with one of the cardinal directions.

Qebshenef, whose name means “cooling his brother (with water),” is hawk-headed and holds the intestines. He is guarded by Serqet (Selkis), the scorpion goddess, and associated with the south.

Imset, whose name means “the kindly one,” is human-headed and wears the nemes headcloth. He holds the liver, is guarded by Aset (Isis), and is associated with the west.

Duamutef, whose name means “praising his mother,” is jackal-headed and holds the stomach. He is guarded by Nit (Neith), the Great He-She, and associated with the north.

Hapy (not Hapi, god of the Nile), whose name means “runner,” is baboon-headed and holds the lungs. He is guarded by Nebt-het (Nephthys) and associated with the east.

While the Four Sons have the above associations in regards to their canopic jars, they also assist the deceased in different ways, including carrying or lifting up the deceased, preparing a ladder into the sky, protecting against attacks and decay, preventing hunger and thirst, bringing the deceased a boat “which Khnum built,” and steering that boat.

The Sons themselves are alternatingly stated to be sons of Aset (Isis) and Heru-wer (Horus the Elder) or Khenty-irty (Horus of Khem), but were also implied to be sons of Heru-sa-Aset (Horus the Younger) by virtue of being the grandchildren of Wesir (Osiris). They’ve also been described as the bau (souls) of Pe (a city in Lower Egypt) and Nekhen (a city in Upper Egypt), along with Heru Himself. In various texts, they’re identified as stars near Ursa Major, as emanations of Heru or as Heru’s bau (souls), and as the king’s “children’s children” (the king being as Wesir, Heru’s own father). They’ve also been identified in spells as the hands, arms, fingernails, and/or feet of the deceased or described accompanying the deceased through the Duat.

Sources:

  • http://www.kemet.org/glossary/
  • http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/religion/sons_of_horus.htm
  • http://henadology.wordpress.com/theology/netjeru/horus-sons-of/

Henadology’s article is particularly well-fleshed-out and worth further reading, as my entry here merely summarizes the basics of the Four Sons.

This post brought to you by the Pagan Blog Project.

on Nebt-het’s day

From Bourghouts’ Ancient Egyptian Magical Texts, words spoken by Nebt-het (Nephthys). These words “are useful … as the devouring of a falcon, as the striking of an `hy-bird, as the listening of the Sea to the voice of Seth.”

May you awake in a good manner! Endure until eternity! Every ailment that confronts you will be dispelled. Your mouth will be opened up by Ptah, your mouth will be disclosed by Sokar with that chisel of bronze of his.

Dua Nebt-het, Who secures health and the efficacy of medicine!

subtle gods

I gather the usual supplies: incense, candle, cool liquid. I resist the urge to get the I’m-sorry-it’s-been-so-long wine from the fridge, choosing instead Nebt-het’s other favorite, blackberry-grape water. I pour some for Her, then savor the rest—the taste takes me back to the first summer-soaked days in Texas, when our house was yet empty and I was only beginning to know Her.

I make the offerings, kneel before the shrine, and call on my Mothers. There is no tangible response, and wise words ring through my head, remembered: Most of the gods are subtle. That is one thing They can be said to be, overall. We tend to miss Them, rather than Their not being around.

When I shift my own perceptions to a finer grain, looking for the hints of grey that fill the gaps in the primary spectrum, I find a sense of Her. Nebt-het is subtlety squared, soft and velvet like shadows, and if I shine the light of my attention too hard towards Her, I’ll never see Her.

She likes the drink, and I think She likes the necklace I made for Her; it’s enough of a response, at least, for me to wear it around my neck. It loops twice and is heavy.

Hethert-Nut is more palpable, but I have to stretch to reach Her, and I do not have enough of a stable root system threading through the hard clay soil that I can extend myself beyond the atmosphere without wavering, unbalanced. I feel like a sea fern, all lace and undulation, but at least I glimpse Her nebulae and can feel Her radiant, suffusive love.

I ask two questions of each of Them, and the answers They give are what I had expected, save one which is humbling. For the umpteenth time, I wonder how I could do this better, how I could perceive my Mothers more clearly and strongly; I know I’m capable of sensing more, given my interactions with Ma’ahes, Who can paint the insides of my eyes His sunset-orange.

But I already know the answer. It’s the way I initially approached Serqet: heart-felt action with zero expectations. Going into shrine with high hopes of a mind-blowing, visceral experience with the Netjeru will frequently prevent me from being open enough to feel what actually happens—which is often more subtle and quieter than I might wish.

Thank You, Nebt-het, for showing me how to look for the subtle nature of Netjer, just by being Who You are. I love You.

PBP Fridays: K is for Holy Kites

Birds served a variety of roles in Egyptian mythology; the Nile valley was rife with all sizes and shapes of wings. Flocks of migratory birds could lay waste to fields and orchards, consuming the crops, so netting swarms of birds in art or act could be symbolic of ma’at (rightness) conquering isfet (uncreation) or of ancient Egyptians defeating foreign invaders. Depictions of imprisoned enemies at Kom Ombo included captured flocks, and the swallow was a hieroglyph frequently used to write the names of undesirable things.

But Kemetic myths are also populated with solar hawks, maternal vultures, a wise ibis, and a great goose Who brought the world into being. The eternal soul, the ba, is shown as a human-headed bird. And, far from least, is the subject of today’s post: kites and the goddesses Who took on their form, Nebt-het (Nephthys) and Aset (Isis).


Nebt-het (left) and Aset (right)

Red kites, which are my best guess at the particular species of kite that Nebt-het and Aset are depicted as, are medium-sized raptors with forked tails and an amiability to both live prey (from rabbits to earthworms) and carrion. They have a high, thin cry, which relate them neatly to Nebt-het and Aset when They were mourning Wesir (Osiris), the dead god. In searching out Wesir’s body after He was killed, Aset was the one Who sought, and Nebt-het was the one Who found, aloft on swift wings with long-reaching eyes.

So kites became symbols of grief, of loss—and of finding again. Wesir rose up when Nebt-het and Aset recovered His body and restored His limbs, and though He was never “alive” again, not like the rest of the Netjeru, He was not wholly undone and vanquished. Kites, with their shrill calls, took in both living and dead sustenance to survive, and so Nebt-het and Aset are Netjeru with a hand extended towards Their dead lord and the blessed dead that He caretakes… and a hand extended towards the living gods and we living mortals.

Sources:

  • Egyptian Mythology (Geraldine Pinch)
  • Nebt-het: Lady of the House (Tamara Siuda)

This post brought to you by the Pagan Blog Project.

Last year’s first K post was on Khepri, Khepera, Kheperu.

PBP Fridays: G is for Grace

Disclaimer: This post is heavy on my personal opinions and interpretations, including some impressions of my spiritual Mother, Nebt-het (Nephthys). Others may have entirely different views of and experiences with Her, and that is a-okay. I speak only for myself.

Every weekday morning, on the drive to work, I say my morning prayers. In that short litany, I thank Nebt-het for Her compassion and grace; by that I mean not only the grace She bestows upon me, but also the grace I enact, which I consider to stem from Her in the same way a child inherits certain characteristics from its parents.

To clarify, the grace of which I speak is not physical coordination and smoothness of motion, though that can indeed play a part. This grace is an elegance of the spirit, a composure of the intangible self. My kind of grace, overlapping with zen and individual sovereignty, states simply that we each are responsible for our own selves, our actions, our reactions, our baggage, and our projections, and that we cannot and should not try to take responsibility for someone else’s stuff. Grace states that someone else’s distress is not about us and should not be taken personally. Grace states that sometimes, shit happens, but we can at least control how we react to the sudden manure in our way. And, of course, grace describes the way one acts and reacts: smoothly, self-controlled, benignly, gently, along the positive-to-neutral spectrum.

Sometimes I get the sense that grace is a lost art, especially among some men. (I really hate generalizing based on sex, but unfortunately, this is experiential and not blindly stereotyped; however, I know it’s not true for everyone.) I find myself wondering how often my own grace gets shrugged off as effeminate, or how often it’s mistaken for deference when it is only courtesy. I wonder if a tactful tongue and a compassionate heart are really heard and felt, or if the gentleness and the subtleties just make it easier for others to override it with noise and force.

Nebt-het, as a goddess who welcomes the newly dead, Who guides them through the Duat, and Who comforts those who mourn the deceased, is very composed and self-contained. She has experienced loss—Her brother Wesir (Osiris) died, the only god to experience death—and so She understands more than most Netjeru what humans feel when other humans die. She has keened Her grief and torn Her hair and stood guard over Her brother’s corpse after seeking it on the wings of a kite, but in the face of others wailing, She is quiet and still. She holds the space and makes it safe for us to scream and sob; in Her arms, we do not fear, and in not fearing, we can express our grief and begin to release it.

When I thank Her for Her grace, I am thanking Her for holding the space—not for me, but for every person who has ever wept, for every person who has been afraid and felt weak or vulnerable—and I am thanking Her for showing me by example how to act with such impeccable grace in service to others. Those who come to me distraught will see my Mother’s child first and foremost, a fallible and oft-emotional human animal second.

If this grace looks like weakness from the outside, I couldn’t care less; it is one of the hardest things I have ever done, and being a conduit for grace has demanded more strength and stability from me than almost anything else. And in that, I am glad to know Nebt-het as my role-model, and I am glad to walk in Her footsteps as best I may.

This post brought to you by the Pagan Blog Project.

Last year’s first G post was on genderqueer and GLBTQ Netjeru.

PBP Fridays: F is for Father Gods

As a Shemsu (follower) of Kemetic Orthodoxy, I have undergone the Rite of Parent Divination, a geomantic divination which reveals my divine Parent(s) and Beloved(s). I have two Parents, my Mothers, Nebt-het (Nephthys) and Hethert-Nut; I also have Sekhmet as a pre-divination “surrogate” mother-figure, and I will frequently call Her my mother. Some of my dearest Kemetic siblings, including the wonderful person who introduced me to Kemetic Orthodoxy and my own sister, have a divined Father; in fact, one of my close friends was divined with two, like I have two Mothers.

But I don’t have any deity I unofficially call Father, and I’d like to explore what it’s like to have such a female-centric divine family.

(What do polytheists call the grouping of their deities that they interact with and worship? I want to say “personal pantheon,” but that’s not quite dictionary-accurate. In Kemetic Orthodoxy, it’s our “lineup” or divine family if referring to the Netjeru we were divined with, but I need a term for the Netjeru of my divination plus Sekhmet…)

I have one god consistently in my life, and that is Ma’ahes, the Living Lion; I have called Him brother for nearly as long as I’ve known Him, and He is not paternal in the least with me. Other male Netjeru, all of Whom happen to be my sister’s or friends’ Fathers and Beloveds, will infrequently touch base but aren’t a part of my daily practice so much that we have a strong one-on-one relationship.

So, as things stand, I am a goddess-worshipper. Sekhmet devotee, born of Nebt-het and Hethert-Nut, protected by Serqet. Ma’ahes is so supportive and non-obtrusive, letting me approach Him instead of actively demanding time and attention, that He doesn’t radiate the traditional “lordly” vibes that many male deities do. (Heru-wer, I’m lookin’ at You.) Ma’ahes, the only male Eye of Ra, an executioner personified by the sweltering summer heat… is extremely gentle and patient with me. He is, in fact, as kind as the most compassionate of my goddesses, Hethert-Nut.

This is probably due to my own nature: I am a non-Newtonian creature and will react to blunt force or aggression by steeling myself and raising my defenses, or simply sidestepping and walking away, whereas slower and softer movements are allowed access to my vulnerable insides. In other words, any deity approaching me with any kind of “macho” attitude would not find a berth in my practice. I am mindful, rational, emotional, and compassionate, and I don’t relate well to a lot of posturing or strict hierarchy. (This is also why I don’t deal with many gods of royalty. I respect Them—I just don’t grok Them.)

Perhaps that’s why I didn’t end up with a Father or a kingly god in my divination; it would take a very special sort of god to fill a paternal role without rubbing me the wrong way. Of the hundreds of ancient Egyptian gods, Ptah is one of the few male Netjeru Whose demeanor jives very well with me, and the only Netjeru I could envision having a positive paternal relationship with me. I adore Him and His myths, and the fact that He is Sekhmet’s consort only endears Him further to me. If He were willing, I would happily involve Him in my regular practice and accept that added paternal flavor… but that has yet to happen, mostly through my own inaction.

I’ve wondered if my bias towards goddesses has anything to do with my transition away from Christianity, but I wasn’t brought up so religiously that it left a bruise. Even my human role-models were both strong women and compassionate men, individuals who were solidly good people without being restricted to any extreme of gender stereotype. Being genderfunky myself, I don’t seek out one sex over the other for friendship or company; I tend not to judge at all based on sex or gender, but based on personal characteristics that mesh well with who I am. I find myself very comfortable with many goddesses, but I have not been exclusionary towards gods; it’s been something of an accidental ratio of female-to-male.

So I am a goddesses’ Kemetic, sort of the polytheist version of a ladies’ man, albeit not through any conscious, deliberate choice. Given the wealth of joy and contentment in my spiritual practice, I can’t say I’m complaining—just curious about how the dice fell. My Mothers and my Ladies are beautiful and fierce and fathomless, and I adore Them wholeheartedly… as I do Ma’ahes, as I would any god or goddess Who won my heart.

This post brought to you by the Pagan Blog Project.

Last year’s first F post was on five pillars of Kemetic Orthodoxy, which later became a permanent page.

Tasenetnofret, The Good Sister

Alternate title: “Colorless,” My Ass

In the Kemetic calendar, today is a day for Tasenetnofret, The Good Sister, a Name Who is a form of Hethert (Hathor), but also an epithet of Nebt-het (Nephthys). This is the one place I have found where my Mothers, Nebt-het and Hethert-Nut, actually overlap.

While idly browsing the Wepwawet Wiki, looking at hieroglyphs, I stumbled across Tasenetnofret’s page. She was described as “a colorless manifestation of Hethert in the role of divine wife.”

I’m pretty sure my reaction was along the lines of “oh no you din’t!” My Mothers? Colorless?!

(Please note that I am not actually taking offense at the editors of Wepwawet Wiki. I realize there’s not a lot of sources out there detailing Tasenetnofret, which can give any Netjeru a lackluster image. I felt compelled to action, not outrage. ~_^)

So, in an immediate effort to rectify this monochromatic statement, I went about painting a very colorful gift for Tasenetnofret:

Dua Tasenetnofret! May Your eyes feast on the most vivid of beautiful colors, always.

PBP Fridays: Enoughness

I had played guitar until my fingertips were purple, and despite all the hesitation and insecurity of a novice musician, I had put an original chord progression to original lyrics for the very first time. It was short, and simple, and I couldn’t play it through smoothly yet, but I had done it.

Nebt-het was there; She had been there the whole time. It was Her song I was putting music to. She was a quiet presence, like twilight-purple incense smoke in velvety shadows, supportive and patient and nonjudgmental.

I put my beloved guitar down, worked the kinks from my fingers, and started a litany of apologies. I was sorry I had to stop; I was sorry it wasn’t as long as a “real” song; I was sorry I couldn’t play it through perfectly…

She stopped me, gently but firmly, and told me in no uncertain terms that It Was Enough. She didn’t mean that I was done practicing, or that the little song would never be changed or improved in the future—She wanted me to know that my efforts, my time, and the music that resulted from my devotion were wholly sufficient. There was no lack in that moment.

It floored me, the concept of enoughness, the idea that I hadn’t in some way failed to do things better or more. My Mother—Who, at the time, had not been divined my parent deity and was simply a Netjeru for Whom I felt an inexplicably strong affection—did not find me or my efforts wanting.

That is still a concept I struggle with, a belief I am poor at integrating. I am very quick to compare myself with others and with some nebulous perfect “maybe” that I expect myself to achieve without fail, and I frequently fall short of the high standards to which I hold myself. The idea that I measure up just fine is a somewhat unfamiliar one—and to hear that from a goddess, Who has known the best that has ever been and Who knows how far little ole me is from that ideal? If She were anyone else, I would not be able to believe Her when She told me that it was enough, that I was enough.

But it’s Nebt-het, and She speaks only rarely to me, and Her few words ring too deep for my flaky self-esteem to ignore.

So I practice enoughness. I keep my high standards in mind, but I try not to writhe too much when I don’t meet them. Nebt-het is a goddess of compassion, and so I learn from Her how to embrace the reality of a thing without denial or rebuke or rosy fantasy. After all, if I strive to extend unconditional compassion to others, I must start with myself.

This post brought to you by the Pagan Blog Project.

Last year’s first E post was on extinct totems.

Sekhmet, My Other

I am a child of the sky at all times of day and night, of the cool hands of comfort, of the depths of star-flung space, of the mourner and the psychopomp, of long-eyed seeking and high-lifting protection, of the deepest compassion and the most boundless joy. My Mothers, Nebt-het and Hethert-Nut, make more sense to me as divine Parents than I could have ever imagined.

But I have an Other in my life: my Red Lady, beloved Eye of Ra, most brilliant and deadly of Netjeru… Sekhmet. And where my ba (eternal soul) and my deepest nature stem undeniably from my Mothers, my heart and fiercest devotion are laid too at the altar and sand-dusted paws of the Powerful One.

I knew Sekhmet first, you see. She taught me strength and how to create and enforce boundaries. She showed me the necessary balance of contrasts, opposing forces held in dynamic tension to create wholeness. In Her name, I voluntarily undertook challenges that have made me not only a better person, but the very person I am today. It was She Who led me to Kemetic Orthodoxy and to my Mothers (and to my Beloveds, and to my wonderful community of fellow Kemetics).

In essence, Sekhmet has been my surrogate mother, the one Who received all of my adoration and worship, well before I ever “met” the Netjeru Who shaped my soul. And while Sekhmet and I are nearly perfect mirrored opposites, and I am so clearly my Mothers’ child, I am still deeply attached to the Red Lady. In many ways, I consider Her a mother-figure, too. She fills my heart, and I belong to Her, blood and bone.

However, my fervent love for Sekhmet does not lessen my love for my Mothers. My history with Sekhmet does not make trivial my less extensive experience with Nebt-het and Hethert-Nut. Sekhmet is the harmony to Their melody, the blush of warm lighting over a cool-colored backdrop. I am the moon to Her sun, and She is the solar Eye in the celestial house of my Mothers.

This is, to me, a perfect example of what it means to practice polytheism. I do not just believe in many gods; I love many gods. My time, devotion, and worship are multi-track, and while I have unique relationships with each deity in my life, it all comes together to weave one whole tapestry of vivid, fulfilling spirituality.

Nebt-het, A Winter Goddess?

Two weeks ago, I returned to the mountains of Nevada for the first time I moved almost two years ago… and for the first time since I met the Netjeru Who would be divined my Mother: Nebt-het.

My Mother is quiet and more subtle than any of the other gods of my divined family. While I’ve drawn incredibly close with my Beloveds, Ma’ahes and Serqet, and while I have a lot of indirect interaction with my Mama Hethert-Nut through my love of space and all my creative hobbies, Nebt-het and I remain much less… talkative.

On Christmas Day, white misty clouds rolled in over the gorgeous Nevada mountains and brought with them the snow that I have pined for since leaving for Texas. I stood outside, in socks and a flannel overshirt, and watched the mountains disappear and the first snowflakes begin falling.

It was cold, and still, and shushed-quiet, though I could hear the happy burble of my rowdy extended family inside the house behind me. Everything was calm and greyscale and absolutely, perfectly beautiful.

And I realized… this was Her. This was my Mother; this was Nebt-het. This greyness, this chill, this solemn quietude, these tiny white pieces of the sky drifting downwards, this half-light between day and night. This was Her peace, the soothing touch of cool hands that help the living transition from life.

I started Wiccan, and there’s enough of that left in me that I find it no stretch at all to link the death-stage of the Wheel of the Year, winter’s cold hibernation, to the death of individuals passing from warm and vibrant life to the Otherworld, and thus to the goddess Who facilitates that transition and Who comforts those left behind. She is, after all, married to Set, the god of all storms– including even blizzards. It is not so hard to believe that a Netjeru of Egypt could be linked to snow in the Nevada desert.

Standing in the cold, my nose and feet gone numb, my hair dusted white, I was surrounded by my Mother’s presence, and quietly overjoyed.

PBP Fridays: P is for Primary Gods

I know I’ve missed several PBP posts, and I will be writing and posting them when I can; in order to keep from falling further behind, I’m going to try to keep up with the “current” PBP letters and backdate as I’m able.

When one has more than one god, occasionally one runs into the problem of… well, rationing one’s time, energy, and offerings between Them. While I am only speaking for myself here, I imagine other pagans have run into this particular quandary, and I’d love to hear how you portion your attention to your gods!

Since late 2005, I’ve been following Sekhmet; my beginning relationship with Her was trepidatious, but over time, I became very attached and devoted to Her. From meeting Her up until the springtime of 2011, She was my only god. Sometimes She was barely present; sometimes I prayed to Her daily. A dear friend gave me a Sekhmet pendant, and it became daily wear for years; it was, and is, the easiest way for me to reach out to Her. I was a one-god pagan, and happily so.

But in 2011, I took the Kemetic Orthodoxy’s beginner course, and I began interacting with other Egyptian deities over the spring and summer. I met Set. I had rich, fleeting interactions with or impressions of Twtw, Renenutet, Ptah, Yinepu (Anubis). I prayed to Serqet, Our Lady of Poisons. Ma’ahes knocked on my door and met me outside at sunset. I met Nebt-het and bonded quickly with Her.

Summer cooled into fall. In November, I underwent the geomantic Rite of Parent Divination and found that my spiritual parents are Nebt-het and Hethert-Nut, my beloveds Ma’ahes and Serqet. I was both surprised and not surprised that Sekhmet was not present. As I began deepening my relationship with those four gods, I found myself spending more time with Set (thanks to my sister’s relationship with Him), too.

It has been a year since I met my Mother, Nebt-het; over a year since I began praying to Serqet, and just under a year since I met Ma’ahes. It has been almost seven full years since I began studying and worshipping Sekhmet.

And I find myself saturated with deities that I love and admire and wish to offer good things to, but no real hierarchy. In Kemetic Orthodoxy, one’s Parent(s) come(s) “first,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that one has the closest relationship with Them, or that one spends the most time with Them, or that one even gives Them the most/nicest offerings. “First” is a very nebulous definition that I’m still seeking to explore for myself, especially since I am still emotionally closer to Ma’ahes and Serqet than my Mothers.

For all intents and purposes, I have five or six deities in my life on a consistent, long-term basis, and I have no particular hierarchy for Them. I have situations in which I call on one or another first; I have acts or objects I offer to one or the other first, based on what They like and appreciate. All my physical exercise and martial arts practice is an offering to Sekhmet; my keeping a prayerbook is a service in Nebt-het’s name. I call on Serqet when I need Her protection or on Hethert-Nut when I need comfort and love.

On occasion, it perplexes me, my lack of a primary god. So many pagans have patron or matron deities; so many of my Kemetic brethren have one Netjeru to Whom they are the closest. I struggled with “letting go” of Sekhmet as my only deity, even as She pushed me down this path that ascertained other gods would come into my life. Sometimes, out of habit, I will think of Her as my only, as my primary; but I wear jewelry for Nebt-het, Hethert-Nut, Ma’ahes, and Serqet on a daily or near-daily basis, and I do not forget that my life now includes Them, too.

Having been a person with a “matron deity,” if I can give Sekhmet that non-Kemetic label, I do occasionally miss the simplicity and purity of it. It has been a challenge to give what I deem fair amounts of attention and time to each of the gods Who are active in my life, even when only a couple at a time are standing at the forefront. But all in all, I adore each Netjeru I know, and I feel blessed by Their presence, gifts, and lessons in my life.

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