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offerings I use (and don’t use) for my gods

offerings I use (and don’t use) for my gods

I always find it fascinating to see what various people offer their various gods. Inevitably, there are some consistent themes or trends; equally inevitably, there are some really unique variations that I never would have expected. (Offering Nebt-het Coca Cola is one of them, oh Kemetic brother of mine!)

As an exercise in sharing–and NOT an implication that my offerings are The Only Right Offerings™–I’m listing some of my primary go-tos (and don’t-dos) here. Remember: what I do has no reflection on what you do, and I don’t compare what I offer to what others offer. Our tastes as Kemetics, and what we can find and afford as humans, vary greatly. I respect that diversity and realize that not everyone has the same privilege to acquire “nice” offerings as others do.

Everyone

My go-to offerings are cool water, tea, fresh bread if I’ve made some, fresh fruit, and “healthy” little treats like baked coconut chips, dried fruit, tiny chocolates (Andes mints, cherry cordials, chocolate oranges), nuts/trailmix, and some good jerky. Sometimes we get silly and I’ll bring in fruit gummies, Little Debbie’s pastries, and other “junk food” that I can get away with on occasion.

I avoid offering things I can’t or won’t revert: nearly all alcohol, coffee, dark chocolate, soda. (My body is particular about what it wants to digest, so I try not to tax it or waste offerings by not reverting them.)

Nebt-het (Nephthys)

In my experience, Nebt-het really likes blackberry-type drinks and dark chocolates. I’ve given Her blackberry wine when it’s a special occasion, or blackberry tea, or even blackberry Crystal Lite powdered drinks. Dark chocolate is a special treat (that I don’t revert; I don’t like dark chocolate), and She’ll accept a few other kinds of chocolate that I tend to have on-hand more often. She’s also pretty good with fresh fruit like grapes or berries.

I don’t offer Her “bright” food, like citrus, white chocolate, milk, etc.

Hethert-Nut (Hathor the Celestial Cow)

Hethert-Nut is an indulgent sort, and She loves rich things. Chocolate? Oh yes. Fruit? Yep. Fresh bread? Definitely. Any manner of flavorful, rich-to-sweet drinks? Offer ’em up! She also loves flowers and shiny objects.

I don’t offer Her citrus either, though She’ll go for white chocolate, milk, etc. She also doesn’t seem to prefer meat-heavy offerings or really savory treats.

Ma’ahes (Mihos)

Ma’ahes doesn’t often accept food offerings from me. He’ll accept orange-to-red tea most of the time, though, and has accepted chocolate orange slices and some meat offerings (usually venison jerky).

I don’t offer Ma’ahes a lot of overly sweet things; I tend to err on the side of spicy or savory. He’s not normally a fan of candies, though He’s accepting of fruit sometimes.

Serqet (Selkis)

Serqet is REALLY SPECIFIC with Her offerings with me. She likes rich dairy things, like smoothies and milkshakes, and white chocolate, and banana, and decadent soft pastries. Cheesecake, white cake, bread, angel food cake, pound cake–all of it’s good by Her. She’ll accept really light tea, but usually laughs it off unless it’s a bit astringent.

I don’t offer Her particularly meaty things or things with sugar and not much substance (like candies and some crisp pastries). I also don’t offer Her a lot of “dark” sweets, like regular chocolate.

Sekhmet

Sekhmet usually has better things to do than critique my offerings, but all the same, I tend to offer a pretty narrow range. I’ve offered Her steak (beef or venison) before, as well as good jerky. I’ve offered Her red wine, red velvet malt, and deep red tea. She’ll usually tolerate chocolates or breads or fruits, though She especially likes cherry cordials. (Of course–it bleeds when you bite it!)

I try to avoid most sweets with Her, and She definitely prefers more intensely flavored drinks than ones I can normally offer and revert. She’s not fond of basically anything that’s bland.

Wepwawet

Wepwawet won’t accept food offerings from me. At all. But He’ll accept a particular strong “breakfast” tea, which is our shared Jqltea. (He would prefer coffee, but I don’t drink coffee. This is as close as I can get.)

As for avoiding, He doesn’t like weak or light tea. Also He apparently hates all food. *cough*

Sepa

The first and foremost thing I offer Sepa is water. Next up is meat (usually spiced jerky) or something heavy, savory, and protein-based. My second food choice is whatever good cheese we might have on-hand. (Read: string cheese. Sorry, Sepa.) Last but not least, fresh heavy bread.

I pointedly don’t offer Him fruits or sweets, though I suspect He’d probably be cordial about accepting if that’s all I had.

Bast

Bast gets chocolate. All of the chocolate. She can have a hoard of chocolate with Hethert-Nut, and they can be the Queens of Cacao. Cherry cordials are a hit with Her, as is mint chocolate, and … okay, all the chocolate. She’s also receptive to fruits and breads, and she likes flowers.

…I am a little hard-pressed to think of an offering She’s disliked or asked me to avoid, actually. I think maybe citrus is not Her favorite? But that’s the only thing that comes to mind.

Set

Set gets Slim Jims. (Don’t judge me.) He also gets steak, good jerky, and the occasional offering of bread.

I avoid offering Him red tea; He laughs it off. I also don’t give Him a lot of fruits or sweets.

What do you offer your gods?

thoughts on love

thoughts on love

I attended a discussion on this year’s oracle tonight, and I want to mark down and expand upon some of my thoughts.

Do you not understand how much you are loved?

This is the first sentence to my favorite part of the oracle, and the paragraph that resonates most deeply with me each time I read it. This is a reminder to those who have forgotten they’re loved–and a challenge to those who will not or cannot believe they’re loved. This is the fierce love of Netjer, the insistent love, the love that exists whether or not it is acknowledged or accepted. This is the love that our prayers call on, the love that shelters and soothes even when it is invisible to every eye.

Creation is the love of the creators for the created.

When I was but a wee little Wiccan, one of my favorite modern-born creation ideas was that Divinity created the universe and everything in it in order to experience creation, to experience life. The associated idea was that we are all God and Goddess, because we are all little pieces of the huge infinity of Divinity, experiencing life on behalf of the universe itself.

This line reminds me of that idea. This line makes me think of Netjer, Who loves so powerfully that creation came about just to house and embody that love. Love is the hand holding the cookie cutter, that presses unique shapes out of something homogenous and flat. We are all alive in order to experience love, in order to receive love, in ways that are just slightly different and wonderful in that diversity.

See to it that love continues. It is left to you to tend this work. We cannot do it for you alone. You too must serve.

You too must serve.

One of the reasons I love Kemeticism is because our gods are not all-powerful and all-knowing. Our gods are pretty big, but They are not infallible and omnipotent. They need us to help Them uphold ma’at and suppress isfet. This work that maintains the balance and rightness of all of creation is not something that only gods do; we do it, too, in our own myriad ways.

Likewise, this love that Netjer bears for us is not solely for Them to give. They can’t do everything for us; it’s a relationship, not divine servitude. We have to do the work, too. We have to open our hands, open our hearts, and extend love to one another. We have to reach out and form community, family, tribe. We have to hold the space for each other and make it safe so we can be vulnerable and real and raw with each other.

And this is important to me in particular: Just as Netjer can’t do it all for us, so we cannot do everything for each other. Each of us participates. Each of us chooses to be here, a choice that most of us make again and again from moment to moment. I cannot live for anyone else, and I cannot expect anyone – human or god – to live my life for me. It’s mine. I give ma’at and receive ma’at. I give support and receive support. I give love and receive love.

Open yourselves, open your hearts, and accept the help that others will give. None of you are alone.

thoughts on the changing year

thoughts on the changing year

I could wish that I’d had a chance to reflect on the previous Kemetic year during the Epagomenal Days, but alas and alack, I did not. So I’ll do it now.

The previous year, Heru-sa-Aset’s year, was spiritually not great for me. I did very very little in terms of shrine time, research, community fellowship, service, etc. I managed to keep saying my daily prayers, and that’s about it. I thought of my gods, and usually felt self-created pangs of guilt that I wasn’t doing almost anything for Them.

The year was similarly creatively fallow. I didn’t even participate in NaNoWriMo because I was traveling too much of the month. I don’t think I made any jewelry, probably didn’t do any paintings, and didn’t write any songs (I think). I managed some pen sketches and doodles that made me happy, but beyond that? Nada.

Secularly, though, it’s an entirely different story. Last year, I found a psychiatrist and started the very long road of figuring out the right meds to treat my debilitating depression. I changed and mended a very close relationship, and I started another new relationship, which also had a change-and-mend stage later in the year. I left a dysfunctional job and started working at the most accommodating, genuinely kind workplace I’ve ever experienced. I retired my beloved decade-old car and got a new baby who could take me on long roadtrips again. A local friend and I rescued 40+ snakes and rehomed all but 3 successfully. (I also got … significantly more snakes for my own household.)

It wasn’t all roses: we lost two of our cats, the youngest to cancer and the oldest to age. My self-care necessitated dropping basically all of my projects and sorely limited the time I could dedicate to other people, so many of my friends didn’t hear much from me. My health continued to suffer from depression and other crap, even with meds starting to help. And, of course, world news and social justice issues just exploded.

All in all, the year was turbulent but produced some really important and positive changes to my personal life.

Now I leave behind Heru-sa-Aset’s influence and welcome the child god energies of Khonsu and Yinepu. This year, I want to get some of my own light back. I want to get the meds optimized, so I’m not always so tired and so flat. I want to re-engage with my beloved Kemetic community, and I want to have the capacity to re-engage a little more with my local secular community, too. I want to pick up the pen and write more stories and more songs. I want to step back into shrine and keep the dust off my gods.

The oracle talked about love, about service, about doing the work and keeping an open heart. Nebt-het talked to me about service, too: service to Ma’at and my community. (And balance between service and self-care, because that too is ma’at.)

So that’s what I’m looking forward to. Gently and gradually picking up things I had to drop last year. Respecting the limitations of my current health, while not letting myself sink into total stillness. Reaching out and helping where I can, without breaking myself in the process.

It’ll be a good year. Kheperu. Dua Netjer!

how it feels

how it feels

I sit with a feeling I have missed, a feeling I’ve barely felt in over a year. It had come in hints, wisps, little blips on my spiritual radar… but now, the door is open, and I can hear it. I can smell the wind through the woods. I can feel the sunset, the sunrise. The moon’s many silvered faces are no longer strangers. The clouds are a daily miracle of art.

I can feel my gods, my spirituality, calling.

And this feeling stretches beyond Kemeticism, beyond the burning sun and the painted sky, beyond the touch of light on stone and sand and silt. I can feel streams in loam under shadowing trees. I can feel moss and ferns and fallen leaves turning to wet mulch. I can feel cool breezes through a willow’s young boughs.

I have been pagan for longer than I often realize, and this sense of the world – this ability to sense the world – runs deep now. And as depression starts to lift, as I feel a little more human and a little more me, I can stretch out and remember what the rest of the world feels like.

It’s all an echo chamber, a familiar song that I have very much missed, and I find myself humming along. Sometimes off-key, sometimes forgetting the melody, but this lullaby will never be fully alien to me.

New Year Resolutions

New Year Resolutions

It is the second day of the Kemetic new year, and we have entered into Heru-sa-Aset’s year. It is a year of victory, of strength, and of working hard to achieve what we desire. It is a year of community, of shared burdens and shared strengths.

I am overjoyed to leave last year behind, to start anew with Zep Tepi. As part of that, and as part of the wisdom of planning my work before I work my plan, I wanted to make a post on my overall “resolutions” or goals for the year. Public accountability, in this case, is a great thing, and I encourage any of my readers, friends, and Kemetic family to call me out if you see me forget or fall short of my own goals.

In keeping with the power of four, I have organized myself in four sections, with four items in each.

I will do less of these things: fewer overwhelmingly social-and-busy weekends, fewer social events with a particular group of people that I like but inevitably leave me too stressed and anxious, fewer large projects, and less placing myself in the position of people-handler for the less-organized.

I will do more of these things: senut once a week, physical activity and exercise, fiction and blog writing (blog once a week), and work on my tiny Jamberry business.

I will maintain a baseline of these things: sleep (yes, I do have to list it, because I tend to deprioritize it), nutrition, tending the house, and tending/handling my snakes.

And, lastly, I will not devote consistent large chunks of time to these things (unless I am happily beset with sudden free time): art (including painting, woodburning, and doodling), music (from practicing to writing new songs), community service (yet!), and everything else that acts as a time-sink.

That last paragraph is the hardest for me; I hate saying no to things I love. But I am spread thin, I am low-spooned, and I need to focus on the core things that make me into a strong, healthy, happy person. No doubt I will still sporadically engage in things that are not in the second and third paragraphs, but my resolution is not to quit everything cold turkey, only to ration and limit the time I spend on side-projects in order to advance my primary goals.

The final, and perhaps most challenging, year goal is heka—not the heka of spells and rituals, but the heka of what I say in my head and in my mouth and in my hands. Depression is an insidious decay of speech patterns, and I will fight its deprecation and pessimism. I will endeavor to clean up my humor a little bit, speak more ma’at in conversations with others, and support a healthy self-image in my thoughts and deeds. I have spent nearly a year putting myself, my wants, my needs, and my health as the very last item on a very long list, and I am done with that. (It only took like a dozen people and two gods to knock some sense in my head. *cough*)

With this, I make public my resolutions—which is heka in and of itself, you know—and I step into the new year with an open mind and a willing attitude.

Di wep ronpet nofret! Happy new year to you all! ♥

Red Week 2015

Red Week 2015

Last week, Kemetic Orthodoxy celebrated “Red Week,” a modern festival honoring Set, strongest of the gods. People got together in person to enjoy fellowship and perform heka; people came together online to do the same. Individuals wrote, sang, and made art for Set. He was studied, explored, discussed, and, ultimately, better understood by the end of His week. We even pulled together a devotional anthology for Him.

Set, also known as Seth or Sutekh, is an easily-misunderstood god. His reputation changes throughout ancient Egypt’s history, going from a warrior to a rebellious god to, in some eras and areas, being downright villainized. Some have equated Him to Typhon, the most deadly of all Greek monsters; others have blatantly equated Him to Satan. Set’s myths and stories are as varied as His reputations, showing Him in diverse lights: the proud contestant for the throne, the killer of His brother so that Wesir (Osiris) can become king of the dead who have no king, the protective warrior who shouts down the sea demon, the lusty god who has no qualms about chasing after skirts or trousers both, the mighty guardian of Ra’s barque who kills the Uncreated One every dawn so that the sun may rise again.

Likewise, modern Kemetics and polytheists have had a melting pot of experiences with Set. Some know His strength and draw on that strength to help survive their challenges; some feel Him in the very whirlwind of challenges that they are tasked with surviving. Some use His brazen fearlessness and loudness to help themselves learn to be bold and speak up; some feel themselves on the receiving end of that relentlessness and volume. Some embrace change, and some fear it. Some hail Him as god of foreigners and outcasts; some are unsettled by His strangeness and liminality.

During Red Week, we all had an opportunity to explore more of Set. For those of us who knew Him fairly well, we got to know Him better; those who didn’t know Him at all could make an introduction. For those who felt Set left a bad taste in their mouths, they had an opportunity to hear from those who loved and respected Him and to see His other sides—to see all the good He does in the world, for gods and people alike. He brings the sunrise and brings us strength.

For myself, I’ve known Set as long as my sister, Saryt, has known Him. But I’ve always known Him through her, and every interaction I’ve had with Him has been informed by and colored by the lens through which she views Him as her Father. I am very fond of Set and respect Him immensely, and He is always welcome in my shrine, but He and I do not have a one-on-one relationship outside of the occasional hello and offering of jerky.

I see Set as a master of the Kemetic version of drunken kung fu. At any moment, He may appear to be out of control, lost to rage, stumblingly drunk, caught up in lust, distracted by emotions—but at all times, He is aware and canny. Set is never stupid. He is intelligent, and His metaphorical strikes are always well-planned and well-aimed. What He does, He does intentionally. Not to say He doesn’t feel the emotions He displays, but that He doesn’t lose Himself to them. He is still capable of doing what needs be done, even when it’s hard. (Again, this is only my personal view; your mileage may vary.)

Last week, as I poured all of my available time and energy into the layout and editing of the Red Week anthology, I was slapped with a minor epiphany. Even as I’ve been struggling with the worst depression this fall and winter in recent years, I’ve been doing my best to take care of projects and people—both at my job and at home—as best I possibly can. And when asked why I’m doing what I’m doing, or why I’m the one who has to do it, my answer is often, “Because I can.” Or because I’m the best available person for that particular job.

It hit me, then, that I’ve been living by a Set-ism.

Set kills the Uncreated One every morning because He’s the strongest of the gods—because He’s the only one Who’s strong enough to do it. And I, unconsciously, have been mirroring that conviction by putting myself forth, whenever I’m able, to do what needs done when I am suited to do it. By no means am I always the best one for the job, but when my efficiency, or endurance, or speed happen to be the highest stats in the current party… well. I step up, no matter my weariness or other concerns. It is a character trait, for better or for worse. And I’d never realized it before now.

Thanks, Set. Looks like You and I have something to talk about one-on-one after all.

Dua Set!

Celebrating Christmas as a Kemetic

Celebrating Christmas as a Kemetic

Spoiler Alert: Totally took Christ out of Christmas.

My partner and I put up the tree on Christmas Eve, dressed it in purple and gold garlands, strung it with purple and cool white lights. The first ornaments were brand new gifts to each other, as part of our new tradition: a solstice pagan scene and a Brigid’s cross, purchased from an Etsy artist. Then last year’s gifts, a white raven (my partner’s) and the Celestial Cow (mine), as well as a pair of owl siblings (from Saryt). The tree was my mom’s mother’s tree, and I built it so my partner could decorate it with all of their childhood ornaments, mine having been lost in too many moves. Christmas music played: The Piano Guys, Pentatonix, Heather Alexander & Alexander James Adams, Heather Dale, and Saryt’s Moomas carols.

We were up until 2 am. I put bows on the unwrapped packages that had arrived in the mail and slid them beneath the fake boughs, then woodburned a small gift for the person who’d invited us to a close-friends-only holiday dinner on Christmas day. A fire flickered in the fireplace, more a source of light than heat, for all that Texas had seen fit to fall to about 40*F that night.

This was the first Christmas in a long time that neither of us were going home to family. No epic roadtrip back to the snowy mountains of Nevada—and it had been half a dozen years or more since I’d made the longer trek back to the Appalachians to have Christmas with my own mother. It was just us, and it was cozy and happy, though we missed our homes-away-from-home.

Under the tree was a gift to my Mother Nebt-het from me. Pagan and Kemetic songs mingled with Christian ones in my playlist. My partner is best described as an agnostic pagan, and I’m happily Kemetic with a side of eclectic pagan. Neither of us are Christian, but there we were, celebrating Christmas.

And that’s okay.

Plenty of pagans and polytheists don’t want to touch anything Christian with a ten-foot pole, which is also okay. Each person can make their own choice about how to interface with other religions and traditions. Myself, I grew up with Christmas being more of a cultural holiday, and it brought me joy; I’ve chosen to keep that joy with me as an adult, as a Kemetic. For me, Christmas is about family, about warmth, about light, and about love, all in a season of darkness and cold and scarcity—and while I acknowledge that it has come to represent to many modern Americans negative things like commercialism, excessive materialism, and blind obligations, it doesn’t mean that to me.

I find it’s important to remember that a thing that brings one person joy can also mean something else far less joyful to someone else, and vice versa. But that shouldn’t stop us from finding joy where we can, especially in a season of long nights and cold weather.

Happy holidays to you all, whatever you may celebrate. And if you celebrate nothing at all, I wish you warmth, peace, and joy.

a lesson from Nebt-het

a lesson from Nebt-het

My Mother is a complex goddess. She is a Lady of Shadows, guide to the dead, comforter of the grieving. She is a seeker, a danger, a death-bringer, a protector. She is an Eye of Ra. She is a Lady of the House of the Sky. She is Seshat, is Nit, is Herself, is Tasenetnofret.

To say She has many lessons to teach is an understatement.

The very first lesson She taught me was that I was enough and what I did in the moment was enough. Not “enough” in the sense that I could stop trying and stop doing, but “enough” in the sense that I didn’t need to feel unworthy, disappointed, shameful, apologetic. The very concept was mind-boggling to me.

This lesson is equally important: it is never to late to start, even if one cannot finish in the same sprint.

I bought a tiny, handmade, spiral-bound notebook months ago, intending to write my akhu’s names in it for use in ritual and to keep on my akhu shrine. It was left untouched until my last senut, when my Mother gave a very inescapable look to my akhu shelf and reminded me that I had promised them.

So often I get caught up in the human trappings of time, the sense of “it’s too late, why bother even starting now” or “why start, I won’t be able to finish before ___ anyways.” But those artificial constructs of my mind aren’t shared by my akhu or my gods. My akhu didn’t forget. Nebt-het didn’t forget. They remembered and were patient.

It was 11h35 pm that night when I unwrapped the book and wrote my grandfather’s name on the first page.

It’s never too late to start.