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Category: Miscellaneous

just keep swimming

just keep swimming

My once-familiar haunts are strange to me now; I have been away too long. They repainted the walls and changed the furniture, and everything is brighter and different than I remember. I linger outside in the shadows, awkward and uncertain, listening to the roar of happy conversation that spills out the door like yellow light spills out the window. It is too much to enter, so I turn around again.

My work is full of baby steps now, an inchworm’s efforts. I am still Kemetic, devoted to my gods, but my practice has shrunk down to a tether of daily morning prayers, which I say faithfully. I cleaned my shrine of dust, but have not sat before it yet. I light incense. I bring a flower that my partner gave me for offerings. I do not yet kneel and still my mind to listen. Receptivity is so hard for me right now.

But I reach out in small ways. If I cannot stand the boldness of the main hall, I can at least say hello to individuals as they enter or leave, so I am not alone. I can sit at my own table and welcome a few others to join me, in my own space, which is quieter and gentler, until I can manage to go back to the light and the bustle.

I offer my dinner, my tea. My breath and my love. It is not as much as I want to do, but it will suffice. My gods and my community are not disappointed in me; the only disappointment is my own, and that is an emotion I can work through.

that fabulous fiddle

that fabulous fiddle

Last weekend, I had the incredible pleasure of attending two small concerts by one of my all-time favorite musicians, Alexander James Adams. His music has, without exaggeration, changed my life.

So much love for him and his changeling predecessor, Heather Alexander.

If you’ve never heard of Alec or Heather, I invite you to give a listen; Heather has tons of albums and Alec has a handful, as well (navigate to various albums in the little sidebar on the right). Most of their music is pagan-flavored or fantasy-themed; there’s a sampling of filk, a bit of animalfolk, a hefty dose of Celtic mythology and fae, and overall an amazing depth of voice and lyric. These musicians are a large part of the reason I ever thought I could make music of my own, and their songs have been models for how one person really can fill the room with magic and sound.

If you have only time for one song each, then take these: Alec’s Creature of the Wood and Heather’s March of Cambreadth. (March of Cambreadth is more SCA than pagan/polytheist, but it’s arguably one of Heather’s best-known tunes, so it’s a great place to start! I’m also slightly more fond of Heather’s version of Creature of the Wood, but Alec most certainly does it justice in his way.)

So much love for these musicians and their work. I hope you enjoy the music!

a slight change of location

a slight change of location

I have officially switched URLs! This blog will now reside on http://itenumuti.com. Relatedly, I have adopted a new email address: itenumuti at gmail dot com. Any emails sent to my old address will be met with an autoresponder letting folks know about the new address so no one gets left behind. :)

RSS and email subscribers, the domain change won’t affect you – your subscription service has been updated already. Likewise, folks who follow me on Dreamwidth won’t notice any difference.

Over the coming days and weeks, I’ll be sprucing up the content of my static pages, especially those featuring my gods, and also potentially freshening the look of the blog itself. None of this will hamper the production of new content or the usability of the old, of course.

Thank you all for reading—we now return you to your regularly scheduled Kemeticism!

simplicity

simplicity

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.

What have I built?

What have I built?

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!

thoughts on service

thoughts on service

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.

I wrote about it, too. I asked how I could serve and what being devoted means to me. It was an intellectual question, a thoughtful probing of the social contract, before it was ever a heart-feeling.

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.

forms of devotion

forms of devotion

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.

Dua Netjer!

Now on WordPress! Ooh, shiny.

Now on WordPress! Ooh, shiny.

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