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Di Wep Ronpet Nofret!

Di Wep Ronpet Nofret!

I have had, in short, an amazing beginning to the new year. For the second year in a row, my sister Saryt and I were able to go to Tawy House to celebrate with our Kemetic Orthodox family—and this time, we drove up together, making a roadtrip out of it.

I cannot possibly write about all the things that happened over the epagomenal days (the five days between the end of the old year and the beginning of the new) and the first few days of the new year in one post. Please accept this voucher for many future posts, and give me a shout if I am too slow to deliver. :)

I do want to share Aset’s oracle for the new year, which belongs to Her, Mistress of Magic and most clever of goddesses. From Kemet Today:

Awake, Children of Netjer.

Awake, to see the splendor of Ra.

Awake, to feel Shu and Tefnut.

Awake, to walk upon Geb under Nut’s belly.

Awake, to the care of Wesir, of Heru, of Nebt-het.

Awaken, to welcome the year that is coming.

Awaken, Listen, Speak, to the Year that is Mine.

I am Clever of Speech.

I am Aset, Great of Heka, Mistress of Heaven.
I am all that you think you know. I am nothing like what you think you know.
So too will be this Year.

This is the year that brings its own heka.
This year will be as simple as the first breath. As simple as one word.
This year will be anything but simple.

Speech may be clever. Speech may be simple.
Speech may not be clever or simple.

In this Year, My Year, you may understand what you do, and do not do; what you speak and what you will not speak, what is appropriate for you, and what is not.

It will not be what you think.

It will not be simple.

In addition to that wonderfully cryptic and portent-filled oracle, there was a powerful theme of community throughout the Wep Ronpet celebrations. Gods and Kemetics alike talked about loneliness, about reaching out, about forming strong bonds, about connecting with others, about not having to be alone. This was a particular poignant and unexpected pattern for me, since I tend to be a quiet hermit and I’d slipped away for nearly half a year to more private practices. But I missed my Kemetic community, I missed more regular time in shrine, and I will be more active once again.

I wish you all a clever, eloquent, grounded, supported year in ma’at! Dua Netjer!

mundane ma’at

mundane ma’at

Sometimes the most sacred thing I can do is take care of my home and my family.

I serve with my hands and my feet, my mouth and my mind. I serve with vacuum and skillet and incense and embrace. I won’t make it into shrine tonight, but I have taken care of my partner, who has the flu, and I have taken care of our home. I have taken care of all of our animals.

And in sitting still for a little while, eating blueberries and listening to Scottish music, I am taking care of myself.

Sometimes I forget that pushing myself beyond my limits in an effort to do All The Things is not ma’at. It is not desired nor requested by my spirituality or my gods. Burnout is not the goal.

Ma’at is, in part, balance. Restoring my house to cleanliness and health is restoring ma’at, and that is my worship today.

It is enough. I am enough. Nebt-het taught me that. I am not as unworthy or insufficient as I so often feel.

Dua Netjer! Help me recognize and honor ma’at in the mundane Seen world.

PBP Fridays: D is for Doing the Work (Redux)

PBP Fridays: D is for Doing the Work (Redux)

I’d like to elaborate on last week’s PBP post on finding delight while doing the Work, because I feel it’s worth taking the time. Please read with the understanding that everything here is an opinion, and your thoughts may differ from mine. Diversity is good. :)

One’s Work is fiercely, deeply personal. Last Friday, I gave the example of art and/or spirituality being the Work, but it can be anything. Animal rescue. Charity work. Political campaigning. Education. Reviving a dead language. Model vehicles. Fashion design. Microbrewing. Origami. Blacksmithing. Travel. Adopting a child. Computer engineering.

The Work does not have to be selfless to be vital to one’s happiness and fulfillment, though it often positively affects others to some extent. The Work does not have to be huge, thick with morals, and/or a lifelong project. It is simply the thing(s) that one feels one must do in order to be fully grounded in oneself and one’s perceived purpose(s).

Because it is so variable and so subjective, the Work is one’s own. There can be no comparison, no judgment, no social weight. The Work is the height of individuality—in doing it, the individual is the most them that they can be. We do not do our Work because we “should” or at the commands or demands of other people. We do the Work for ourselves, and for the sake of the Work.

The most important characteristic of the Work is its suitability to its person. I have an enormous respect for people engaged in hands-on charity work, and I highly value their contributions to our society and to the people they help, but charity is not my Work. If I volunteer at a soup kitchen, I am doing a good thing, but I must also do my Work if I am to feel well-balanced and soul-sated. The Work is not a replacement for good acts in the world, nor are good acts to be mistaken for a person’s particular Work.

I grew up in a culture in which I do not currently live, so I can say with moderate confidence that doing the Work is not really a consistent concept across geographic and economic regions. Being able to pursue one’s own deepest passions and interests is a privilege usually only found where time or money can be spared from the task of surviving each day. In the culture in which I was raised, doing work was simply getting a job done efficiently and well. I take pride and satisfaction in that, but it’s not the deep satiation that I get from doing my Work. It’s important to acknowledge the privilege of being able to find and do one’s Work; if you can, be grateful for the opportunity that so many lack.

Many say that it’s our duty to do our Work, be it artistic or spiritual or otherwise. While I hesitate to put the weight of such obligation on it, I understand the emotion behind the words: that those of us who can do the Work take advantage of our situation, because to waste such a gift belittles the opportunity that grants us an open door. But that is yet a social judgment, and I still can’t support it, so I’ll leave you with this:

If you know and can do your Work, you are kindred to everyone else who can and does, regardless of the specifics of the Work. Don’t sweat the small stuff; you are shoulder-to-shoulder with people performing their own brands of magic, and that is a precious thing.

This post brought to you by the Pagan Blog Project.

2013’s second D post was Darkness.
2012’s second D post was Deity.

PBP Fridays: D is for Delight in Doing The Work

PBP Fridays: D is for Delight in Doing The Work

Delight is a noun, sure—it’s a feeling of joy, often unexpected pleasure—but it’s also a verb, and that’s my favorite use of it. To be delighted is to be happily surprised (or simply to be happy); to delight is to bring that sort of unanticipated joy to someone else. The word delight evokes an image of splashing gleefully in water (a puddle, a pool, a lake, a child’s bubblebath, you name it) in my head. It’s laugh-out-loud jollity.

Doing the Work is a common phrase used to indicate doing the hands-on, occasionally tedious work that is related to or directly causes a sense of personal and/or spiritual fulfillment. I’ve seen it used by creative individuals in regards to their chosen art; I’ve seen it used by pagans in regards to their chosen deities and spirits which they serve. I use it here in both ways, where the Work is capitalized because it is vital, life-giving, and of utmost import on an individual basis. My art is my Work. Walking my spiritual path is also my Work.

What I’ve noticed, though, is that doing the Work can often seem joyless. Some days the magic and novelty are nowhere to be seen, leaving me going through the motions. There can be a personal satisfaction in pushing through the doldrums, and sometimes, quite frankly, my goals require that I trudge through in order to walk the full length of my path. But there’s little benefit in going beyond that enduring doggedness into outright self-draining blindness. As with everything, here we need balance, too.

I was raised on the value of hard work and of enduring hardship, but I taught myself the value of joy and of self-fulfillment. They are complementary, and when well-married, they are far stronger together than either can be apart. Yes, sometimes, doing the Work is not particularly fun or enlivening or enlightening. Yes, sometimes, experiencing delight means setting aside the Work in order to free oneself up and make space for joy.

But I think the common belief that one can only have delight or productivity, but never both, is a fallacy. I believe that one can find delight in the everyday actions that often constitute doing the Work. Perhaps delight is not so near the surface when the furrows are deeply ingrained with the repetition of the Work, but I am not afraid to dig for those gems any more than I’m afraid to do the Work itself.

At the end of the day, I want to have accomplished something, and I want to have enjoyed the accomplishing. For myself, I see little point in doing all the things without any joy—or enjoying myself to the exclusion of my own chosen goals.

Ptah is the god Who embodies this concept for me. He is the Maker, the Builder, the Creator Who spoke the world into existence—and He is the one Who crafts with His hands and is patron to artisans, craftsmen, and other hands-on makers. He does not toil; He works, and He exudes quiet joy in the rhythm of His exertions.

If I can manifest even a fraction of that patience-and-delight while I do my own work, I will be satisfied.

This post brought to you by the Pagan Blog Project.

2013’s first D post was the Djed Pillar.
2012’s first D post was the Desert.

the call of the Eye of Ra

the call of the Eye of Ra

Today, III Peret 7, marks the festival of “The Eye of Ra calls the Shemsu.”

Shemsu is a specific term for some members of Kemetic Orthodoxy; it means that one has joined the House and sworn to uphold one’s divined Kemetic gods above any other path. In antiquity, it meant “follower” and referred to a member of the Kemetic royal court who had sworn to serve the nation by following the royal household. [source]

Whether a member of Kemetic Orthodoxy or not, whether a Shemsu in the House or not, today provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on the call of the Eye. Why do you follow a Kemetic path?

For myself, this is a day to meditate on Sekhmet, my Red Lady, the Eye of Ra Who brought me here. I may have chosen Her deliberately in my youth, but She has since set me on a road that She has designed, and I could not have possibly foreseen where I’d be after eight years in the Lioness’s fiery wake.

Tomorrow marks my first full year as a Kemetic Orthodox Shemsu. (How’s that for good timing?) To be honest, very little is different for me as a sworn Shemsu from how I’d been before, but I can see the spiraling path and how I’ve changed and evolved with every passing season. I am a follower of my gods, Whom I praise and adore; I am a participant in my community, which I support and contribute to.

Today, I offer up my gratitude to Sekhmet for accepting a doormat’s plea for strength and turning it into a Shemsu over the course of years. Today, I offer up my love for my gods, my brethren, and the path I’ve chosen to walk. Today, I sing the song of ritual and offer flame and smoke in joy.

Serving Sekhmet

Serving Sekhmet

Disclaimer: This entire post is pretty heavy on UPG and personal views of Sekhmet. What’s valid for me may not be valid for anyone else, especially in terms of offerings and whatnot!

A few weeks ago, I came across this post about active/passive service to the gods, which set my wheels a-turnin’. Having finished a dedicated tenday to Sekhmet last week, I’ve been thinking especially how the idea of active service applies to Her. Of all my gods, She is the one Who would be most expectant of a proactive devotee, one who didn’t wait for Her instructions but thought and acted on their own.

In the past, I have been a very passive devotee, clingy and uncertain, unsure of what to offer to Her in either action or item, unconvinced that I could satisfy Her with anything I did or gave. While I’d be lying if I said I never relapsed to anxiety, nowadays I am much better at being a stable and self-strong worshipper. And in an effort to continue that positive trend, I made a list of what I could offer Sekhmet without needing Her explicit direction.

offerings/gifts

  • red alcohol
  • red meat
  • devotions (praise, songs, poetry, etc)

discrete acts of honor/service

  • martial arts
  • physical exercise, especially strength-training
  • certain forms of healing: expelling poisons, excising wounds, Shadow-healing
  • hekau, especially execrations and protective heka
  • certain kinds of energywork, especially for overall health and power

ongoing acts of honor/service

  • fighting isfet and promoting ma’at
  • establishing and protecting sacred space
  • serving the king (as the Eye of Ra is all about protecting the king)
  • transforming rage to joy, violence to celebration (as Sekhmet is pacified and becomes Hethert)

After writing the original list and now sorting it into the three categories, I understand a bit more of why I’ve felt flaily in the past—without a lot of in-shrine offerings available to me, I’ve been a little rootless. Most of what I have done and can do for Sekhmet is done in the middle of life or in gi pants outside of shrine.

That suits Her, I think. She doesn’t spend a lot of time in temples, either.

PBP Fridays: A is for Aspected and Syncretized Egyptian Gods

PBP Fridays: A is for Aspected and Syncretized Egyptian Gods

To say that Egyptian pantheon can be confusing is putting it mildly, especially for the stranger or novice to Kemeticism. There are thousands of Netjeru recorded across thousands of years of ancient Egyptian history, and as time progressed, They shifted. More popular gods took on the characteristics and roles of older gods that They replaced, as with Wesir (Osiris) usurping some of Yinepu’s (Anubis’) duties. Major deities in Lower Egypt were equated with those in Upper Egypt (and vice versa), which happened with Bast and Hethert (Hathor)—Bast is the “Northern Hethert” and Hethert is the “Southern Bast.”

Some of the greatest befuddlement comes from aspected gods and syncretized gods. I’d like to offer a short, hopefully simple definition of each for the clarity of my friends and readers. (Please note: These are my own interpretations based on the general viewpoint of Kemetic Orthodoxy, which is monolatrous and sees Netjeru as flexible in Who They are and how They appear to us. Super-hard polytheists will likely treat every single deity as a separate entity and may not agree with my explanations below. Either way is totally fine.)

Aspected means “same god, different job” or “two faces, one coin.” Nebt-het (Nephthys) is aspected with Nit (Neith) and Seshat; my divined Mother is, in fact, Nebthet-Nit-Seshat. (Yes, the order matters and changes for different people.) Nebt-het is a chthonic goddess Who works with the dead; Nit is a primordial creatrix; Seshat is a patron of language and building. She is still the same deity at Her core, but how She appears varies and is indicated by Her name. Think of it like this: Your (human) mother is the same person all the time, but she’ll look and act differently when she’s at home in her pajamas vs. at work in her overalls and hardhat vs. out to dinner with her friends. So it is with aspected deities like Nebt-het.

Syncretized means “oxygen + hydrogen = water.” The Celestial Cow Hethert-Nut (Hathor-Nuit) is a syncretized god; She is Her own entity, but She is “made” from Hethert’s bovine attributes and Nut’s heavenly attributes, brought together and fused in new ways. Hethert-Nut is not Hethert or Nut—They are three different deities—but They share a lot of similarities, just as a human child will take after both its parents in certain ways, but still be its own person. However, Hethert and Nut are not regarded as the mythological parents of Hethert-Nut.

Since both aspected and syncretized deities are often written with hyphens, it can be difficult to tell if a given Name is aspected or a syncretism. Here’s a quick rundown of Who’s which:

Aspected Netjeru: Aset-Serqet (Aset=Isis) / Serqet-Aset, Wepwawet-Yinepu / Yinepu-Wepwawet, Hethert-Sekhmet / Sekhmet-Hethert. (Note that aspected Names can be written A-B or B-A, depending on which “face” They show the individual most often. The amount that a person interacts with the second name varies; I have almost zero interactions with the other “face” of most of my aspected deities, but others may get Them both in nearly equal measure.)

Syncretized Netjeru: Bast-Mut, Sekhmet-Mut, Hethert-Mut, Sekhmet-Bast-Ra, Amun-Ra, Ra-Heruakhety, Wepwawet-Ra, Sobek-Ra, Heru-Ma’ahes (Heru=Horus), Heru-Shu, and more. (As you can see, quite a few syncretizations were made by adding Mut (Mother and Queen), Ra (Creator and King), or Heru (Warrior and King) to other Names.)

And, of course, it wouldn’t be Kemeticism without a god Who can be either aspected or syncretized, depending on the context: Ptah-Sokar, Sokar-Wesir, and Ptah-Sokar-Wesir.

Thanks to wepwawet.org and per-sabu.org for the lists of aspected and syncretized Names!

This post brought to you by the Pagan Blog Project.

2013’s first A post was Aker.
2012’s first A post was Apotropaic Deities.

PBP Fridays: Z is for Zep Tepi

PBP Fridays: Z is for Zep Tepi

Zep Tepi is one of those Kemetic concepts that defies easy translation. It means “the first time” or “the first occasion,” and it is one of many cornerstones of the Kemetic Orthodoxy worldview. Zep tepi is that first moment of Creation, where everything is new and pure and flawless, before isfet and Ap-p and death entered the picture. I adore this post about zep tepi, and while I doubt I can say it better than that author, I can’t not write about it, even if I’m hard-pressed to add worthwhile words atop those already said.

Zep tepi is the dawn of each new day with a blank slate. It is, in fact, the dawn of each new hour, minute, and heartbeat, all clean and clear and fresh. When the calendrical new year begins and people look to the unstained canvas of the seasons with hope, that is zep tepi. The flush of excitement and curiosity and newness at the start of a new relationship, when cynicism and jadedness are briefly forgotten in the tingling joy of novelty and possibility, is zep tepi. The beginning of each ritual with clean hands and an attentive heart returns us to zep tepi, as in the Kemetic Orthodox rite of senut.

I’ll offer this excellent closer from this post:

The candle you light always has the potential to be the First Light, because the First Light is why there is a candle. The incense you burn always has the potential to be the breath of the gods, because the breath of the gods is why there is incense. These are ever-present, ever-available, there is no falling away and being lost from the possibility of clarity because clarity is wound-through and a part of every moment of living, if you just know to reach for it.

This is the Original Sinlessness.

You inherited it.

This post brought to you by the Pagan Blog Project.