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A New Prayerbook

A New Prayerbook

In November 2011, I began recording prayer requests from the Kemetic community in Kalash, a script of my own invention, and in that way offering my energies and prayers to those who needed them. Over time, it evolved into a weekly ritual of its own, complete with offerings of food and drink, candle and incense, and a light purification. I did it for my community, but it has always been a service I performed in my Mother Nebt-het’s name.

A couple weeks ago, I filled my prayerbook. I have been searching since then for its successor, and it took me until last weekend to find the right book. It’s handmade from the Lokta plant by Nepalese artisans; I chose it because it supports the global community (and fair trade), and also for the cover art that reminds me of both my Mothers. On the right side of the below photo, you can see the initial book blessing/dedication/opening blanket prayer; the first three pages are that lovely night-blue, while the rest are cream-colored.

Beginning this book has made me realize that, roughly once a year, I will fill my prayerbook and go seeking a new one. The thought of having a small stack of books filled with handwritten prayers some years down the road makes me smile. It is a very small thing, praying for my siblings in the faith, for my family and friends, but I am glad to put forth the time and words to do so.

the perspective of prayer

the perspective of prayer

I have been lax in updating my prayerbook with the requests of my community and my family, so today, I carved out a block of time to catch up. I provided bread and drink, incense and fire, as offerings, and I washed my hands before I picked up book and pen.

I spent four straight hours, in the company of a diehard tealight, my gods, and my ancestors, writing out fourteen pages of prayers by hand. There is quite the stitch in my shoulders and back from the work.

What strikes me is not the physical discomfort, nor the tears I shed over the deaths I quietly recorded, but the perspective offered by being a silent witness to others’ troubles, fears, pains… and triumphs. There were remarkable and unexpected recoveries from illness and injury, just as there were worsening prognoses and deaths. There were jobs seized, along with jobs lost. Relationships and friendships forged and repaired, along with bonds broken.

And every moment, for every word I spelled out, for every prayer I scribed and spoke, I was reminded of how blessed I am, and how grateful I am for those asked and unasked-for blessings.

It’s hard to pray for others without gaining that perspective for myself. And for that, and a million other things, I am thankful.

a prayerbook update

a prayerbook update

In November, I started my personal prayerbook, a spiral-bound unlined notebook that I filled with the prayers from and for my community, written in a script called Kalash. To date, I have filled over a third of the book; I have just finished doing some major catch-up work that took me over an hour to record. (This means that, my siblings in Kemetic Orthodoxy, if you have requested prayers, I have prayed for you, even if I didn’t leave a comment in the forums.)

More interestingly, though, is that I’ve gone from simply scribing to making it a mini-ritual. Purification requirements are light – clean hands and a clean space – and the tools are simple: a candle, a single offering cup, and incense. I light the incense, light the candle, offer my Mother Nebt-het Her favorite drink, and leave a small bite of chocolate for Netjer. It’s all done at my computer desk instead of my altar; I need the computer to go through the prayer request forums.

And now, instead of simply writing the prayers, I write them and then speak aloud my requests, calling upon the Netjeru in my family to help. I realized, not too long ago, that I essentially have a god for every occasion with me, and it only makes sense to name Them when I pray for others. Nebt-het, guide of the dead, comforter of the mourning. Hethert-Nut, Who provides love and joy. Ma’ahes, protector and upholder of ma’at. Serqet, Who can help with any poison, be it mental, physical, or emotional. Sekhmet, Who is the patron lady of doctors, especially surgeons.

It feels very right to be maintaining my prayerbook this way, involving my gods and making it a mini-rite. I genuinely feel that doing this is an act done in Nebt-het’s name, and that brings me joy and a sense of responsibility and accomplishment.

Dua Netjer! May You hear the words of Your children and bless them.

a personal prayerbook

a personal prayerbook

On both Kemetic Orthodoxy and KIN forums, there are places for people to request prayers. Until now, I have avoided those forums, being far too susceptible to news of others’ pain and misfortune. I would love to lend a voice, but keeping a strong and positive spirit while praying for terrible things is frequently beyond my capacity, let alone doing that for several different things in a row.

However, I figured out a way that I can give my prayers to those who need them without dropping myself into a state of reflection upon all the terrible things in the world. I bought a blank book, wrote on the inside cover a book blessing and caveats for safety (such as “for the highest good for all concerned” and “with harm to none”), and wrote the dates, names, and prayers inside for those who had posted recently.

The key, however, is that I haven’t written anything in English. It’s all in Kalash, a conalph of mine (visual example). I can write fluently in Kalash, but I can’t read it just by skimming like I can English, so I can write something down without being distracted and weighed down by all the prayers I’d written previously.

Thus, I can pray for those prayers written within to be heard and answered, focus on the book as a whole, and stay steady and positive.

It’s a similar to the idea of a sigil or other symbol, created to represent a goal/desire in other forms of magic (chaos magic, I’m lookin’ at you) – you create the sigil in full consciousness, then focus on just the sigil, so that your subconscious mind gets the work done and your intellect doesn’t get in the way. That’s an oversimplified explanation, but you get the idea. So, rather than my intellect lingering on sadness, I can funnel positive energy into the book itself and give the prayers within a boost.

I’ve filled two pages so far. It feels good to be doing this.