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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.

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.

elevating darkness to the realm of stars

elevating darkness to the realm of stars

From When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams:

I want to feel both the beauty and the pain of the age we are living in. I want to survive my life without becoming numb. I want to speak and comprehend words of wounding without having these words become the landscape where I dwell. I want to possess a light touch that can elevate darkness to the realm of stars.

I am awestruck with how deeply these words resonate with my understanding of my Mother Nebt-het and my own purpose as Her child.


Art by Euphreana.

PBP Fridays: X is for Xeric Gods

PBP Fridays: X is for Xeric Gods

Xeric is an adjective meaning “adapted to a dry environment” (thanks, Dictionary.com!). Just as each pantheon is adapted to the environment in which its culture lives and dies, so too are the Egyptian gods well-adapted to the dance of desert-and-flood of the Nile river valley. In other words, the Netjeru are xeric deities.

I’ve always found it intriguing to compare the Netjeru I’ve come to love with other, often more popular, pantheons. While it’s certainly true that we human devotees have a tendency to categorize deities across cultures – the “mother goddess” or the “young king” or the “magician” are deity archetypes that persist around the world – the gods of ancient Egypt are often strangers to their pantheonic counterparts.

For example, Kemetics lack an explicit god of the sea… or of snow (outside of a blizzard)… or of forests… because Kemet lacks snow and forests, and the sea was the realm of outside-Kemet, of foreigners. We must then extrapolate and infer: Well, Set is a god of foreigners and foreign lands, and there is a myth where He tamed the angry sea, so perhaps Him—or gods associated with the Nun, the primordial waters, such as Nit. Set is also hailed as a god of all kinds of storms, so blizzards are His – but what of gentle, restful snowfall? I found myself associating winter with Nebt-het not too long ago. And for forests, ancient Egypt had deities of papyrus marshes and tree goddesses, but neither of those truly matches the sum of what a forest is.

Coming from the northern Appalachians with a grounding basis in Celtic mythology, I still struggle sometimes to relate the land in which I live to the gods that I worship. I’ve certainly gotten better over the past couple years, having pondered how to match the Kemetic yearly cycle with my local region’s cycle and how I travel with Egyptian gods on American soil. However, given that the tree-furred mountains of my home state and the endless tides of the sea command so much of my heart and ka, it’s still a little strange to lack a Name to put to those natural forces, short of the ones I can intuit or logic-leap to.

On the other hand, I find it fascinating and an enjoyable intellectual exercise to figure out how to fill the “gaps,” so to speak. Need a god that suits the alpine tundra of Nevada and Colorado? Well, it’s a harsh and dry and often-cold place outside of civilization, which makes Set an appropriate choice. Need a god of waterfalls? Given the abundance of water and the force as it falls, Hapy as god of the Nile might suit—or one of the deities of the inundation specifically, like Anuket. Need a god of, say, computer languages and software or website coding? Well, Seshat created the system of writing and all written symbols, and She’s the Lady of Builders to boot, so if you’re making a digital “house” with a particular language, She might fit!

Even though it’s occasionally a challenge to relate to gods so well-adapted to a vastly different environment than the one I live in, I still love the challenge of exploring Them and Their nuances to find where the borders touch and the lands overlap in Them.

This post brought to you by the Pagan Blog Project.

the Night Vigil

the Night Vigil

Tonight is the Night Vigil for Wesir, the dead god, during His Mysteries.

From T. Siuda’s translation of the Lamentations of Aset (Isis) and Nebt-het (Nephthys):

Your two sisters join together Your limbs,
and no pain shall touch You.
We will make Your injury as if it never happened.
Great Mighty One among the gods,
the road You travel cannot be described.

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!