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the faces of gods

the faces of gods

I’m on day two of a low-level migraine, so instead of a lot of words, have some photos of my gods instead:

All my love and adoration to Nebt-het, Hethert-Nut, Sekhmet, and Ma’ahes, my Netjeru in the heavens.

the faces of gods

the faces of gods

I’m on day two of a low-level migraine, so instead of a lot of words, have some photos of my gods instead:

All my love and adoration to Nebt-het, Hethert-Nut, Sekhmet, and Ma’ahes, my Netjeru in the heavens.

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.

Moomas With Family

Moomas With Family

For the unfamiliar, Moomas is the nickname of the Establishment of the Celestial Cow, which handily falls on December 25th. You can read more about the Establishment here, or check out The True Meaning of Moomas and this post, which includes Moomas carols. For a more meditative note, I recommend these two posts from Egyptologist and Kemetic Orthodoxy leader Tamara Siuda: Winter Holidays and And There Were Stars.

I was driving during the winter solstice and Return of the Eye, and I was immersed in family on the 25th, so I did no ritual for my Mother Hethert-Nut’s big day. But my partner’s family loves the game Fax Machine, where a group of people write down a sentence, pass it to the left, draw a picture based on the sentence (and hide the sentence), then pass it again, so the next person writes a sentence based on the picture. This proceeds until each person receives their original stack of papers again, then the resulting picture-and-sentence “stories” are read and shown aloud, usually resulting in a lot of hilarity.

I started mine the best way I could think of, since it was Moomas. The sentence is mine; the drawing is my partner’s. :)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Moomas, however you may have celebrated it!

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!

subtle gods

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: F is for Father Gods

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.

Tasenetnofret, The Good Sister

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.