Browsed by
Category: Magic & Ritual

returning

returning

I slink back into shrine like a teenager returning home well past midnight, guilty and full of half-valid excuses. Overtime at work for weeks on end leading up to early April, then burnout, then there was this other project, and I’ve been meaning to dust off the altar…

My Netjeru have been in my prayers every morning as I drive to work, but I feel the lack of seeing Them in shrine—of offering Them water and incense—like a hollow pit of nervousness. Too long “apart,” and I start to wonder if They even want me back.

Nonsense, of course. But still, I tiptoe around the edges of my shrine, washing my hands before I dispose of old candle tins and incense ashes. I place fresh candles and incense, gather simple offerings of cinnamon and chocolate, and take a breath.

I pour water for my akhu, my family, my ancestors. Happy birthday, Grama—I’m really sorry I missed the actual day.

I light a candle for my gods so I may see Them and They me. I love You, my Mothers, my Beloveds.

The smell of incense transports me instantly. There is no sense of time with scent-memory, and it’s like there’s been no long absence at all.

I recite Sekhmet’s heka and look at the firelit faces of my gods, grateful for Their continued presence in my life and for Their immortal patience. And it won’t be so long before I return again to this physical housing of my spiritual practice.

a tenday with Ptah

a tenday with Ptah

As I’d done with Wepwawet, I dedicated a tenday to experiencing and interacting with Ptah. Ptah is one of the creator deities; He is the one Who manifested reality by speaking aloud the thoughts within His heart. (Most of the creators made life and/or humanity via bodily fluids.) He is a god of handcrafting and building, patron of anyone who makes things with their hands, thus simultaneously abstract-and-vast as a creator and “down-to-earth” as a maker.

I have admired and respected Ptah for a few years now, but never got up the gumption to actually approach Him in shrine and have a metaphorical conversation. As you can see to the right, I have a small shelf shrine for Him, which is set up directly over the art desk in the living room so He can keep an eye on all of our crafty endeavors; I also made a polymer clay sculpture of Him months ago so He could be present near the workbench in the garage. Being not only the consort of Sekhmet, Whom I adore, Ptah also has purview over most of the activities and skills that I highly value, both personally and familially. I considered Him a household god before I even initiated this tenday.

Before inviting Him into shrine with me, I had already built up a pattern of recognition for Him: His colors are pale blue and warm, dusty golden, like sunlight through the sawdusted air of a woodshop. I smiled every time I looked upon His statue’s face; He never failed to give off an impression of quiet patience, of deep and abiding contentment with His work, of tireless willingness to keep making and crafting, of mild and mellow temperament. I could imagine Him in a small workroom, bent over His next creation, tools in His capable hands and an easy focus on His face.

To be honest, I expected Him to “appear” like that to me when I began the tenday, but He never did. I instead got to experience His subtlety, like fine grains of silt sifting through the river. Because I timed my tenday with Him to coincide with a ten-day feast of His, I made sure to offer Him a variety of food each day. He never used words, never gave me a visual of Him embodied, but I saw His pale blue color like motes of life in the interstices of molecules, comprising me and the floor and the tree outside and the very air I breathed.

Today is the last day of my time focusing on Him, and I think I can safely conclude that, for me, He is like Sekhmet in that I can more easily find Him outside of shrine, in the doing, in the Work. Meditating on Him still fills me with joy, and now that I’ve seen a glimpse of His color saturating all of reality, I find I can connect to that imagery very easily now.

It seems Ptah is not so much a god Who needs to be invited in, but a god Who is already here and simply waiting for us to see.

Dua Ptah!

Libation for Sekhmet

Libation for Sekhmet

I got the text around 4 pm at work. “He doesn’t have cancer!” my partner exulted, delivering the news about his mother’s beloved that we’d waited for all week.

I hadn’t been emotional about the possibility until that very moment, holding my phone in my palm and staring at those blessed words. I wanted to cry for relief, no matter my coworkers around me. That evening, my partner and I picked up a bottle of good red wine: I had promised Her, and She had given me that piercing look that said She heard.

Today is the Feast of the Drunkenness of the Eye of Ra. Today I feel Sekhmet close, blood-toothed and laughing sharply as I wince at the smell of Her libation. I revert a sake-cup of the stuff and nearly gag, and I promise Her more—once we know the full extent of my family member’s remaining health concern.

She pats my head, impossibly tall, Her face in shadow. I can tell She smiles.

the Night Vigil

the Night Vigil

Tonight is the Night Vigil for Wesir, the dead god, during His Mysteries.

From T. Siuda’s translation of the Lamentations of Aset (Isis) and Nebt-het (Nephthys):

Your two sisters join together Your limbs,
and no pain shall touch You.
We will make Your injury as if it never happened.
Great Mighty One among the gods,
the road You travel cannot be described.

it’s been two years already?!

it’s been two years already?!

On November 21st, 2011, I underwent the Rite of Parent Divination and was divined a child of Nebt-het (Nephthys) and Hethert-Nut (Hathor-Nuit) and a beloved of Ma’ahes (Mihos) and Serqet (Selkis).

Two years ago to the day, I was excited and nervous out of my mind, a relative newcomer to Kemetic Orthodoxy, waiting to hear the results of the divination that would determine the core components of my spiritual family. Other Netjeru could and would come along, and perhaps leave, but these divined gods would be with me for life. Learning Who They were was a commitment to Them in and of itself; I was prepared to accept Them into my practice and honor Them as best I could.

For me, that was a life-changing decision—and a very good choice.

Nebt-het clarifies my own nature and gives me a path to follow in being the best of myself; She gentles me to compassion and does not let me be weak, for in weakness I cannot aid anyone, including myself. Hethert-Nut opened doors to new forms of creativity and showers me with unconditional love; because of Her, I have written songs—with musical accompaniment!—and painted and made jewelry, none of which I had ever done before Her.

Ma’ahes has been a cornerstone of strength and comfort for me, offering His unshakable surety as a security blanket when I need one and His infinite nature as a desert landscape for me to explore as I’m able. Serqet has protected me from poisons and taught me how to handle venomous people and situations, which is a lesson I have needed and still struggle to fully integrate.

And in the span of these two years, I went from having zero relationships with my akhu—my ancestors, the blessed dead—to having a strong and positive one. I know more of their names than I ever thought I would (thanks, Ancestry.com) and honor them regularly with cool water, a white candle, and incense. I feel loved and more connected to my blood family, both living and deceased, than I ever have in my life.

Beyond the staple of my personal spiritual life, I’ve connected with the Kemetic Orthodox community, which is full of diverse, creative, and absolutely wonderful folks. I’ve never been so welcomed or so supported in both personal gnosis and academic research. The friends I’ve made and the spiritual family I’ve adopted have changed my life for the better, and getting to meet many of them face-to-face for the Wep Ronpet retreat last summer was quite simply amazing. I look forward to more events, online and in person, with all of them.

I am immensely, profoundly grateful for my path, my gods, my akhu, and my community. Here’s to another year of growth, experience, and change!

KRT: Execration and Curses in Kemeticism

KRT: Execration and Curses in Kemeticism

This post is part of the Kemetic Round Table, which aims to answer some of the most common questions and provide a wealth of diverse options for the Kemetic novice to explore.

What are execrations and curses?

First, let’s throw out a quick definition (paraphrased from dictionary.com) so we know the difference between an execration and a curse:

  • A curse is an invocation or spell intended to cause misfortune to another person.
  • An execration can be a curse, but can also be damnation or denouncement.

For clarity in this blog post, I will use curse as-is and execration as a denouncement of someone or something–a “get thee hence” statement or spell intended to separate a person (or thing or situation) from oneself so that it can do no harm, rather than intended to harm a person (or thing or situation) directly.

Note: My definition may be different from how other bloggers, Kemetics, and polytheists use these words. When reading other posts, please keep that in mind.

Can you perform execrations and curses in Kemeticism? If so, how and when?

In antiquity, execrations and curses were both performed pretty regularly and commonly. Ancient Egyptians didn’t seem to hesitate in either separating themselves from harmful people/things/situations or in actively seeking harm to befall their enemies or agents of isfet (uncreation). For plenty of academic information on the various forms of magic and heka in ancient Egypt, including execrations and curses, check out the free download of Ritner’s The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice (click on the little arrow button next to “4th printing”).

Common methods of cursing and execrating include writing or drawing a person or their name, then destroying the image/word by drawing knives through it or burning it; this can also be done by writing/drawing on a red pot, then shattering the pot. Depending on the individual’s intention and spoken heka, this can sever a link between two people (to execrate) or actively “attack” another person (to curse). Most often, the target of the execration or curse is identified with Ap-p, the Uncreated One, and can be drawn as or inside of a serpent shape.

For more on how to perform execration and curses, check out these posts by Devo and by Helms.

As for when one might perform an execration, I’d say “whenever necessary,” but the timing for a curse—to actively seek to harm someone—leads us nicely into the next question:

Are there ethics involved in execrating and cursing? If so, what are they?

For execration, I personally don’t think that one would suffer an ethical dilemma. Execration is separating oneself from harm or threat of harm, and when that separation is done to preserve oneself or to build a better life, there’s no conflict of interest.

For curses, I hesitate. Cursing Ap-p or other (non-human, often symbolic) agents of isfet, who would see all of creation undone, is something both ancient and modern Kemetics did and do in order to maintain the order of the world and its very existence. But actively seeking to harm an individual, rather than to excise them from one’s life or contain their harmfulness so it cannot damage other people… I myself would not do it. There are so many other ways to remove someone’s ability to do harm that seeking to destroy a living, fallible, redeemable person is not within my array of options.

in summary

Execrations, which remove oneself from harm, can be employed whenever necessary by symbolically destroying the link between oneself and the source of harm.

Curses, which actively harm the target, should be employed only after great deliberation—if at all—by symbolically destroying the target.

Both execrations and curses are suitable to perform against Ap-p or other (non-human) agents of isfet (uncreation); performing either helps maintain the order of the world within ma’at.

If you enjoyed this post, please check out other takes on execrations and curses by my fellow Round Table bloggers!

Tea with the Jackal

Tea with the Jackal

About two weeks ago, one of the Kemetic Orthodox teaching priests suggested taking a tenday (a Kemetic week) to get to know the Netjeru with Whom one has no current relationship. While my work on the Obscure Gods project means that I’m hunting down 70-some little-known Netjeru and getting to know Them through myth and magic both, I still loved the idea and decided to adapt it to suit me. Instead of spending a tenday with gods I didn’t know, I would instead spend a tenday with each god that I have so far admired from a distance but never got up the courage to really approach.

When I knelt in shrine that evening and addressed the four-to-six gods I wanted to initiate a relationship with, one of Them stepped up first and firmly: Wepwawet.

Since I first began participating in Kemetic Orthodoxy, I have perceived Wepwawet very tangibly and strongly, but did not seek Him out on a one-on-one level for a variety of largely silly reasons. Getting to spend the following ten days with Him, with my self-imposed distance revoked, was fulfilling and enjoyable beyond words. Turns out, when I’m not limiting myself, I can “see” Him nearly as well as I can Ma’ahes, Who is by far my most palpable of Netjeru.

Some the time I spent with Wepwawet was set aside specifically for the brewing and steeping of hot tea just for Him, outside of formal shrine. The friend of mine who introduced me to Kemetic Orthodoxy had told me of sharing tea with the Jackal Who is zir Father, and my sister often offers her coffee to her Father, Set… so when Wepwawet requested strong black tea, I was not surprised. After some trial-and-error on which tea to use and how to prepare it, we hit upon a delicious decaf English black tea that He liked. Jackal-tea became a slow-paced ritual of deliberation, patience, and in-the-moment pleasure: the water had to be very hot, and the tea had to steep for ten minutes, and the Jackal and I would share it with slow sips and conversation between.

The tenday ended on November 1, and Wepwawet released me into the care of the next Netjeru to choose me in the same moment that I chose Her: Bast, Lady of Light, Who Rises As Gold.

But there will always be time outside of the busy day to brew and savor Jackal-tea with Wepwawet.

a Kemetic Halloween?

a Kemetic Halloween?

Although I’m not huge on most of the mainstream holidays, my earlier years as a Celtic neopagan have cemented the solstices and equinoxes into my mental calendar. October 31st is a big deal to many of my friends and chosen family, whether they celebrate it spiritually as Samhain or culturally as Halloween. So I decided to contemplate how I could celebrate Samhain in a Kemetic fashion, because hey, why not?

Warning: Some spiritual blending ahead. Proceed with caution and a grin.

According to the Kemetic Orthodox calendar, October 31st this year features several gods in festival: Nebtu, Behdety (Heru-behdety, the Winged Disk), Heru-wer (Horus the Elder), Hethert (Hathor), Anuket, and Heka. That’s a whole lotta gods! Abundance of the land, victory, rightful action, joy, the river and its blessings, and magical speech, all in one day.

Add to that the non-Kemetic associations of Halloween with the dead and the veil between Seen and Unseen worlds being very thin, and we’ve got the makings for a very complex and powerful holiday.

I admit, my first thought on celebrating October 31st was to honor my Mother Nebt-het (Nephthys) and my akhu and leave it at that. I find it challenging to try to incorporate all the gods in festival on that day to that original idea… but it’s no different than drawing a sigil from several very different letters that are all part of an overall meaning. So let’s see.

Nebt-het is the Lady of the dead, the one Who guides the deceased through the Duat, one of the goddesses waiting in the West to welcome the newly-arrived kau (souls). Honoring the blessed dead, our ancestors, our akhu, honors Her. But what of the others?

Nebtu and Anuket are both goddesses related to provisions and abundance, Nebtu from the growing lands and Anuket from the river. Sounds like a rich offering of food and drink is in order!

Behdety and Heru-wer are both warrior Names Who uphold ma’at and protect the living; perhaps those of us residing in the Seen world owe Them special thanks, since we’re still on this side of the veil. A hearty respect and gratitude is due both of Them (and perhaps mead or rum, for those who drink it!).

Hethert, Who is joyous, the beautiful and powerful Gold of the Gods, reminds us to enjoy what we’ve got while we’ve got it and to celebrate life–including the lives of those who are now among the stars as the blessed dead. A gladsome partying atmosphere should go along with all that food, then!

And lastly, but far from least, Heka, the god Who embodies the power of authoritative speech. With the veil so thin, Heka makes an appearance and lends extra weight to our own utterances, be they spoken or written; it’s a day to take especial care of what we say… and to use that power well, to thank the gods for our lives, and to celebrate with our ancestors to remember their good lives.

Yeah, I think that’ll do quite nicely. :) What will you be doing on October 31st?