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A Month of Written Devotions #6 – Light

A Month of Written Devotions #6 – Light

Some part of me registered the change of
quality of light from daylight-golden to
post-sunset-grey, inching towards blackness,
and my heart twinged before my eyes
could even look towards the clock for confirmation.
“It’s hard to shake a decade of SAD,” I told her.
My neurochemistry is as wired to sunfall
as a watch’s gears are wound to second-tick precision.
I wondered if it was too warm still
to be able to light a fire in the hearth.
(So long as it’s under 70*F, right?)
I felt the restless itch, the tumult burning
just beneath my skin, and was already
thinking of ways to combat the darkness
and the wave of depression it towed behind it
when You came.
I hadn’t even been thinking of You, but
in You swept, a fierce orange brightness,
a warmth, a weight, an undimmable light.
And I couldn’t see the twilight anymore.
I couldn’t feel the shadows encroach.
I knew they lingered, just outside the bounds
of Your radiance, but You were all around me
and they could not touch me.
I felt like I was standing inside a lit hearth
and was somehow immune to ever burning.
Just like that, in that moment, You righted me.
And I am grateful beyond words.

A Month of Written Devotions #5 – Forgiveness

A Month of Written Devotions #5 – Forgiveness

The halls are silent and golden-brown.
Sunlight slants through at late afternoon angles.
No breeze stirs the dust that rests on the floor,
and each moment is warm and still.

And yet I walk forth, the touch of light
on my hand a familiar and welcome heat.
I know this geometry of bright and shadow,
tall walls and not-quite-straight path.

I would return to You, except
You never left me.
I would ask Your forgiveness, but
You never needed to give it.

The halls are the throat of a lion,
and here I belong, living
amidst the heka You speak
and the ma’at we breathe.

A Month of Written Devotions #4 – Beginning

A Month of Written Devotions #4 – Beginning

Wash my face with the waters of Zep Tepi,
the First Time, before all was said and done.
Break my eyes open with Your light;
lift me up in Your great, gentle hands.

Yesterday is gone and away, as ancient
as the first inundation and the last pyramid.
Today is fresh and pure, ripe and vibrant.
There is hope anew, another chance at choice.

Let us walk together, You and I.
In companionable silence, we will range
far and wide, knives and truths to hand.
Protect me as I, too, serve Ma’at in my way.

And when the sun-that-is-You sets
in a blaze of orange and glory,
I will walk the night through in Your shadow
to reach the dawn’s Zep Tepi again.

A Month of Written Devotions #2 & #3 – How & Together

A Month of Written Devotions #2 & #3 – How & Together

How did you become involved with your devotional topic?

I stepped outside at sunset, into the thinning heat of September, wary but open. Ma’ahes had asked me to meet Him, but I was more cautious than enthused–I had no idea what He wanted. No god had ever called on me before; I had always been the petitioner.

A sense of intense orange flooded my senses, moving like levitated liquid paint the color of long sunsets. I told Him that I was here, that He was welcome, and invited Him to sit with me on the edge of the patio. When nothing happened, I placed my palms on the stones of the deck and shaped the area–the patio, the horseshoe-shaped house at my back–into the ocean. It had been a while since I had displayed any prowess with energywork, but I had always loved painting my environment to feel different to me.

“If I can do this,” I told Him, “surely You can reach me somehow.”

The hovering orangeness vanished, and with startling abruptness, the part of the world I faced–the part that wasn’t ocean and open sky and briny wind–was brilliantly orange sand, the sky sunset-red. When I could sense it just as easily with open eyes as I could with closed eyes, I grinned.

I asked Him to sit with me again, and when He still didn’t, I shaded my half of the world to shadowy waves and teal-purple skies. We evolved our halves for a little while; mine darkened into a thunderstorm, flickering violet and silver, all my colors and all my Water, staining the back half of me dark river-teal. His sky darkened towards more red, less orange, and then shadows blacked out a long stretch of sand from the horizon to my feet. It took me a few moments to realize that something must be blocking the sunlight for that to happen, and realized that He had appeared, very far away, a lion-man indistinct.

I spoke to Him as He slowly walked towards me, growing more visible; He was orange, that particular opaque sunset-orange, but ember-like, magma-like, shining orange through cracks of blackened stone, a living statue of sunset-lava. I could see Him better than I could see most Unseen entities, especially His leonine face. (I am particularly bad at faces.)

He sat with me, silent, and our halves of the world mellowed, my sea shifting to more an oasis at the edge of His desert. And when the sun was nearly set, He stood and left, walking across the vivid sands the way He’d come.

This was to be the first of many sunset meetings with Ma’ahes.

What’s your relationship with your devotional topic?

From that first enigmatic meeting, Ma’ahes stymied me. Here was a god Who wanted me to come see Him, to include Him in my life… but, at every turn, refused formal offerings. He accepted, gladly, the painting I made of us and our peacock display of color and environments that first evening. But water, incense, food, prayer, devotional activity–refused.

He was, quite simply, just happy to see me.

And I had no idea how to respond to that. Under no circumstances do I think I am special to the gods any more than every single human being is special to them, so why would Ma’ahes just… want to be near? What did He gain? How did I benefit Him? I kept asking, receiving no clear answer. The closest thing to a hint that I got was a reference to my innately Water nature and how it complemented His dry, solar essence.

It took me months before I warmed to Him and responded to His patience, His kindness. He was strength without anger, duty without arrogance, righteousness without bloodlust. Everything I read on Him historically suggested that He would be… more vehement about His role as an Eye of Ra, but the Ma’ahes I got to know was silent, radiant, and gentle. He was wholly unexpected, and He persisted against my constant questioning, my doubt and skepticism, and my expectations.

And when He showed up in my RPD, I felt more relief than I could’ve imagined. This unconditional god would not one day disappear just because I couldn’t figure out what He wanted from me; He would always be a part of my life.

Ma’ahes is a solid, constant, tangible presence when I need soothing or protection. (It is a very different feeling of protection than, say, Serqet, or Sekhmet. Or Nebt-het. Nothing is so terrifying as Nebt-het with knives.) He can hold me without making things worse; He can accompany me when I can’t stand company. I call Him Brother because I love Him and do not fear Him, and because He allows me to be so honored as to be part of His chosen family.

A Month of Written Devotions #1 – Who

A Month of Written Devotions #1 – Who

It’s been a hard winter, and a not-easy spring, but I have scrubbed my shrine clean and lit fresh candles. And I would like to do the metaphorical same here, in my beloved-but-neglected blog.

Some of my friends and kin are doing A Month of Written Devotion, started on Tumblr but spreading quickly to non-Tumblr blogs. While I will endeavor to write every day, I will also not lynch myself if I don’t; I’ll be participating with the goal of simply finishing and reviving this blog, rather than keeping to a strict schedule.

I am grateful for the opportunity to write, to be honest with you. My time and energy has been so vice-gripped, so clamped down, that the mere idea that I am free enough to be able to write here is… liberating, refreshing, relieving.

With that, I’ll give you the brief quote of what this whole month-long shindig is all about (copied from the above-linked Tumblr), then get started.

For one month, take time to write out a devotional piece to a selected deity(ies), spirit(s), or someone/something you devote yourself to spiritually. The first three day prompts introduce who/what you are writing to and establishing your relationship and the remainder of the month are word prompts to help you elicit some type of feeling or memory to write for that day. If a prompt doesn’t inspire you but there is something else you want to write for that day, go for it! This is just a list to inspire or bring about memories. And the final prompt for the month will be simple, personal, and a good way to wrap up your month of written devotion.

The most important thing to remember is write from the heart, write with sincerity, and remember, you’re writing this for not only the one you are devoted to, but for yourself as well.

Who? – Deity, spirit or chosen devotion for the month

I rolled my god die, a handmade wooden cube with each of my primary gods’ names in hieroglyphs on each side. “Which one of You would like to be the subject of my written devotions for a month?” I asked, looking up at the freshly-cleaned shrine and all Their paintings ranging above it.

Ma’ahes, the die answered, His name looking up at me with its eye.

Ma’ahes is a male Eye of Ra, one of very few. (The Eye of Ra is usually a leonine goddess like Sekhmet or Bast; the Eye is Ra’s executive, active power usually acting in a protective or punitive role.) Ma’ahes is a lion god of war and execution, tightly linked to the intense summer heat and the solar powers of the sun. As with most warrior deities, He can be called on for protection of people and sacred places. Through His various connections to Heru (Horus), He is linked to horizons; through His connection to Nefertem, He is linked to perfumes and scented oils. The Greeks (and I) saw Him in storms. He is the son of Bast, and He serves Ma’at as an active, dynamic god.

While He is typically a fierce and sharp-knifed god, He is extraordinarily gentle and patient with me. To me, His power is without rage or bloodlust; He acts assertively, without hesitation, with all His strength, but He does not glory in the execution of isfet when that is His task. (Seeing Him as largely emotionless about His job, albeit very devoted to it, is undoubtedly UPG and probably really uncommon, given traditional epithets.) With me, He asks for nothing and provides everything, and He was the only one of my gods to initiate and insist upon an interactive relationship. He is present for me in an opaque swath of orange, warm and attentive; only rarely does He take His more traditional forms of lion-headed man or full-bodied lion. I think of him at sunset, when the sky tints His shade of orange. I adore Him.

Ma’ahes’ shrine, next to Sekhmet (left) and Hethert-Nut (right):

At the top is a (very old) painting, one of my first; to the right is a Kemetic showpiece dagger, a gift from a good friend. Below are lion statues, including one made of coal from my home state of West Virginia and a handmade, antiqued beauty by Nicolas of Shadow of the Sphinx. There’s a wooden mandala-type string of beads, and lastly, a gorgeous wire-and-crystal piece by Kythryne Aisling of Wyrding Studios.

I have a hard time explaining my way of seeing Ma’ahes, and our relationship, to others… so I feel it’s very apt to be writing about Him for a month. Ma’ahes elicits a particular brand of adoration from me, and I look forward to putting that more into words.

For more research-styled info on Ma’ahes, you can check His page here.

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.

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!