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thoughts on service

thoughts on service

It wasn’t until I was Kemetic that I understood what it meant to serve.

That’s a very strong statement to make, but it’s not untrue. I am an extremely insular person, something of an internet-dwelling hermit, and as an HSP and introvert, I do not do well in situations where I am among throngs of people, working towards a common cause. Public, out-there forms of service and volunteering and communal work have never drawn me in, both in terms of what I can do and what I’d like to do, given my own skills and limitations.

And so the essence of “to serve” has eluded me. It never felt important. I never felt pulled or pushed to do it. My personal focus has been on bettering myself, both internally and externally: being the best person and the best me that I possibly can. That’s how I help the world: by being better to it on a very personal, one-on-one level.

But now I am Kemetic; now I have a community. Now I have gods Who are with me for life, and while Their roles in my life may fluctuate as I grow with Them, and our relationships will certainly evolve, I do not worry that someday They will decide I am unworthy and leave. And while the future is never certain, and I cannot guess how humans will change, I am very fond of and comfortable with my House, my spiritual family, however quiet or communicative I am at any given week.

And for my gods, for my community, there is the question of service. There is the question of what I may offer them/Them, without draining or damaging my own self and life, that will enrich and enhance Them or help them in some way that matters. “Giving back” has been said so much, and it’s only recently that I have any emotional sense of what it really means, what it feels like to mean that.

I wrote about it, too. I asked how I could serve and what being devoted means to me. It was an intellectual question, a thoughtful probing of the social contract, before it was ever a heart-feeling.

But now it’s a heart-feeling. And I have been learning how to take action on that feeling, to manifest it into the world in some way that makes me proud and grateful, in some way that honors my gods and helps my community.

I designed a fresh look for the Tawy House website. Web design is something I do well and heartfully, and I was so happy and proud to be able to offer myself up to fill that need.

I am copyediting The Bennu, a Kemetic Orthodox devotional anthology. I am quite good at the layout of text and finding and fixing typos. I am very happy and grateful to be able to assist the project lead, and the community, with an actual publication. I want our words to shine as brightly as those who speak them.

I have, only a few times but hopefully more in the future, crafted for my brethren. I have made necklaces and paintings for the people my spirit loves, and I have touched their gods in doing so, and I am truly honored to be able to offer up the art of my hands to others’ deeply personal practices.

I maintain a prayerbook, and while my consistency in updating it leaves something to be desired, I have not stopped or given up. I have faithfully recorded every single prayer in it since last November. I have prayed over it; I have invoked my gods’ aid; I have offered drink and flame and scented smoke and chocolate. I write each name and each request in a language I have made for myself, and it is holy to me. That is my service to Nebt-het in particular, my Mother, my shadowed lady.

All of this has given me a deeper understanding of giving, of generosity, of offering up oneself in terms of time and energy. I feel I better know what it means when I say “let me know if I can do anything to help,” because I have experienced giving and serving, and the essence of that sacred, zen-like feeling is what pervades when I tell my loved ones that I am there for them, that I will do whatever is within my power to make their lives better if they but ask.

I am still respectful of my own limitations; I am still very self-aware. I know that I do not have infinite time or energy or emotional capacity or material means. I do not offer what I cannot afford to give, and what I can afford to give varies by day and by need. I do not compromise my own health or life in order to assist others.

But it means something more now when I offer to help, because I feel it instead of just think it, and I am more compassionately willing to act on what is asked for. That, for me, is a wonderful feeling.

I am not done learning about service and how it feels. But I have come a very long way in the past year, and for that, I am immensely grateful.

Announcing Mythic Curios!

Announcing Mythic Curios!

My partner and I were struck by an idea on April’s Friday the 13th and, enthusiastically driven to act on it for some clearly unknowable reason (ahem), I built a web presence around it that very evening. We spent the next couple weeks fleshing it out and crafting, and well, it’s about due time I share it here, since the news has officially gotten out. :D

Allow me to introduce to you Mythic Curios, an online shoppe featuring custom magic sigils, fantastical jewelry, and mythological paintings by yours truly and the brilliant love of my life! We even put together a small website to explore the idea of paying for magic and the kinds of magic that we use in the sigils and some paintings – because, you know, it’s sort of important to know what’s going on behind the Seen when messing with magical objects.

I am really excited about this project and very proud of the work we’re doing. This is not an attempt to build a livelihood – our prices are way too low for that! It’s a way to share something we absolutely love to create and look at and wear, a way to help people by bringing magic and unique beauty into their lives, and also a way to fund future creations so we don’t eat ramen in the name of buying more beads and acrylics. (Because, seriously, we would. Art trumps fine food!)

If you’re at all interested in magical art or handmade jewelry, please do peruse the curio archive and spread the word to others who might like it! And, of course, we’d love the chance to make you your own painting or piece of jewelry. :)

serving

serving

Just about everyone seems to have dry spells, periods where they have trouble being as immersed in their spirituality as they’d like. Whether it comes about from major life changes, a hectic day-to-day routine, a bout of depression or anxiety or other emotional crash, or just entirely randomly, I’ve heard so many people refer to it happening that I can’t say I feel alone when it hits me.

I lit a candle for Nebt-het today and poured Her Her favorite-so-far drink, and I sat before my shrine and played guitar for Her. I wanted– really, intensely wanted– to feel Her presence as I had before, a tall slender woman in violet-grey with long, cool fingers.

But my head was cloudy, and while I felt strangely certain She was around, I couldn’t for the life of me actually pick up on Her presence with my senses as I normally could. It was hard for me to focus, though I tried.

Instead, I wrote in my prayerbook and prayed over it, sending my words and hopes to Netjer on behalf of other people.

And I want to find other ways I can serve– serve Her, my Mother, serve Netjer, uphold ma’at. I will donate money to causes where I can, I will spread the word when I can, but that feels like the very least I can do, not something that’s really done out of service to Netjer. I want to think about what else I can do, in terms of a short-notice not-formal-volunteering thing. Putting in time at the local shelter or soup kitchen is a wonderful thing, but not something that can be done spontaneously at 11h30 at night, you know?

Is posting on the forums and welcoming my siblings in Kemetic Orthodoxy a service to Netjer? Is praying for the sick, the injured, the passed a service in my Mother’s name, She who is guide to the newly dead and comfort to those grieving? Does it really matter and have an impact when I do these tiny, intangible things? Am I really making the world better, even in the smallest possible way, or am I taking a token action only to make myself feel like I am?

I don’t know the answer. I might never know. But I want to find concretely Good Things to do when I feel the need to offer some part of my time and energy to the world in gratitude for being alive in it.