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What have I built?

What have I built?

I did not want to answer this question, posed on the Kemetic Orthodox forums as a way to contemplate the past Kemetic year in preparation for the new one, which begins August 3rd.

My avoidance is probably a sign that I should, indeed, explore my answer. ^^;

Ptah’s year was not a building year in the way I expected, planned, and hoped. My love and I moved to Texas shortly before the Kemetic year changed over; my job relocated me with a very promising paycheck, which we wanted to use to pay off my debts and make some serious inroads on my partner’s student loan debts. I intended to build my skillset, my network, my seniority, and my savings account. My goals were all pragmatism and foundation-shoring.

Instead, I’ve endured some of the rockiest company transitions I’ve ever experienced, a flurry of managers in quick succession, and a wildly fluctuating job description. I have shifted back into my “lean times” budget with admitted reluctance (but also with gratitude that I have lived as dirt-poor before and know how to handle it). My savings account stands empty thus far. I have broadened my professional network, but only because so many people have come and gone through my office. I have increased my seniority by virtue of outlasting the roughest waves, but those who are above me now are newer than me, and so my seniority doesn’t matter a whit as I re-prove myself to them, as I proved myself to their successors and those who came before.

But rather than looking to the bricks I’d hoped to lay down, what about those that were unexpected and strong?

Thanks to the madhouse at work, I am tenfold a better worker in both capacity and skills. I feel I have matured greatly because of what I’ve experienced, grappled with, and adapted to.

With Texas came a house that is beyond wonderful. Our landlords are gracious and superbly respectful of our privacy, we have a fenced back yard, and we have a glorious amount of space that is laid out in an atypical, delightful way. (Our house is horseshoe-shaped!)

My partner and I are even more tightly tied as a family, and we were able to adopt a stray we found recently. Despite already having five cats and a dog, this new dog has fit in unbelievably well in what I had always considered was a household of critters prohibitive of having a bigger dog. My partner and our animals bring me so much joy.

Ptah’s year saw me engage and evolve as a Remetj of Kemetic Orthodoxy, drawing increasingly closer to Ma’ahes and Serqet, and then getting my RPD in November, where I was divined a child of Nebt-het and Hethert-Nut, beloved of Ma’ahes and Serqet. I have deepened and explored my relationships with my gods, and while perhaps I have not done as much as I would have liked to in this regard, I have certainly done more than nothing. :)

My crafting sort of exploded this year, unexpectedly and unplannedly. I wrote music for my gods, including my first-ever experience putting guitar to original lyrics, and I participated in a challenge to write an album in one month. I began painting. I began making sigils. I opened up Mythic Curios with my love. I began making jewelry. I began making sculpeytures. I wrote over 100k on a rough draft of a new novel in the late fall/early winter, then 50k on a rewrite of another novel idea, and almost a dozen short stories in May. I laid down the groundwork for a consistent creative habit that I intend to last me indefinitely – I am never done making things.

I am incredibly grateful for the skillset, family, spirituality, and creativity that I have built in Ptah’s green year. Dua Ptah!

PBP Fridays: F is for Feral

PBP Fridays: F is for Feral

Feral is a big word. It means the long-term guest-cat living in our household, who has slowly learned what it means to not hiss and flee from any still object that’s even remotely animal- or person-shaped. It means all the cats and dogs living in urban and suburban areas without human caretakers. It means all the human-brought domesticized animals that got out into the countryside and went native– often ousting truly native species and wrecking ecosystem balance in the process.

Feral means non-human sometimes, or maybe just non-thinking. Instinctive, perhaps even intuitive. Feral is a word that evokes a sense of dangerousness, of unpredictability, of wildness. Feral can bite the hand that feeds and lick it tenderly not a minute later. Feral evades capture. Feral cannot be reached with logic, and only sometimes can it be tempered with the reliable structure that logic can build. One rehabilitates a feral animal in part by providing a secure, unchanging rhythm and structure until it learns it does not need to fear or aggress. Our half-feral girl has come from living on a closet shelf to sleeping on my stomach at night because she learned I don’t react when she hisses; I do not take advantage of her fear or vulnerability, and so I am not a threat. A non-threat may be lived with peaceably; a non-threat may even be trusted.

For me, the word feral overlaps with the word pagan. Both of them speak to less civilization and more nature, more blood and marrow and greenery and sickness and danger and risk. I do not romanticize old days with nonexistant roads, poor or no education, more primitive medicine and surgery, and frequently terrible human rights. But I do see the disconnect from wildness that exists in my urban, civilized, well-educated, sanitized world now. It can be very hard to be feral in healthy ways when everything around you is automated machinery and political maneuvering. It can be very hard to be nature-based pagan when everything around you is plastic and steel and pavement and glass.

I am in some ways feral, a human animal who has not lost its ties to instinct and flesh. I am sometimes-tame, domesticated enough to live in the world we have constructed, civil enough to wish for joy and abundance and love for all people, intelligent enough to understand compassion and justice and social contracts. But beneath this veneer of well-cultured humanity is still an animal seeking to survive the chaos of life in whatever way it can, and I react to trauma like my half-feral cat has reacted to her own, despite all my efforts at cultivating zen within myself.

I seek feralness in others. Most of the heart-deep friends I have understand the nature of the human animal and share it with me, bound to visceral experience and strong instinct and the sense of striving to live, even within our blessedly privileged and safe lives. Most of the gods I follow have feral natures– the keening kite, the roiling black sea, the sunning lion, the hunting lioness, the stinging scorpion, the roaming stallion. The poetry I write drips with imagery for all the senses, and the novels and short stories I craft feature creatures or monsters or shapeshifters of some sort far more often than humans. The media I consume – music, movies, books – revolve around the highlights of feral entities, the struggle to resolve feral nature with compassionate morals, glimpses of things that are not purely human. The martial art I study seeks to train the instinct to react appropriately, knowing the body can move so much more quickly than the mind in a hot situation, knowing the body is its own kind of animal.

I have said before that I love Celtic paganism and my Kemetic path in very different ways. Kemeticism is the sun upon my skin, the wind and light through clean branches, the warmth of the working day when words are said clearly and things are built strongly. But in Celticism are my roots, deep within the loamy soil, untouched by sight and light, coiling and winding, drinking deep of the world and its marrow, full of blood and spit and sweat and hairs. When I engage with Celtic gods and Celtic paganism, I do so as a feral human animal; when I act as a Kemetic, I do so from the higher faculties that I possess, logic and structure and order and reason. This does present unique challenges, such as finding it difficult to intellectually study Celtic history and mythos as I have Kemeticism, such as finding it difficult to interact with my human ancestors within a non-feral Kemetic framework. The dynamic between feral and not-feral feels like the twisting spiral of my very DNA, the centerpoint around which all of my work – physical, spiritual, and creative – revolves.

Much like I need both animal nature and human intelligence to call myself a human animal, I need both Celtic and Kemetic nourishment for my spirit to truly thrive.

This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.

thinkin’ o’ de spirit

thinkin’ o’ de spirit

So I read this, which compares spirituality to martial arts as an intro and asks if your spirituality is good enough for you. (My phrasing, not the writer’s.)

And I thought about it. Hmm. What has my spiritual path, in all its twists and turns, done for me?

I took up martial arts in Sekhmet’s name, which deeply affected my self-identity and my physical health and my ability to relate to people, all for the better.

At Sekhmet’s request, I learned (and continue to learn) an amazing amount about ancient Egypt, not just religion and mythology but also magic and their forms of ethics, which parallel nicely my Eastern-based ones. And I have bonded deeply with friends and met wonderful people, found an entire community in fact, through this.

I completely revolutionized my personal paradigm in order to drop all the shoulds and keep only what was true to me, in experience and belief. This process also meant leaving my attempt at being a hard polytheist and adopting the “diamond metaphor,” which I later learned represents what’s called monolatry. Conveniently, this is the Kemetic Orthodoxy point-of-view – and my paradigm-shift had Sekhmet as its catalyst.

I committed to improving and caring for myself, in all ways. Part of that was physical work, again in Sekhmet’s name, but all the emotional and mental bits have been zen-based, working towards peace and compassion and gentleness. That zen work, seeking to live in Tao (and in ma’at, as it turns out), has been possibly my greatest challenge.

“An’ it harm none, do as ye will” was also a world-changer for me. The harm-none part goes hand in hand with the above-mentioned peacefulness, but the other part stands out brightly: I can do whatever I want. I don’t have to play by the rules or abide by expectations. I can make my own life, forge my own path, and seek my own fortune. So I have, and I have a wonderful, amazing, rather unpredictable life; it is not as adventurous as some, nor as secure as others, but it is mine, and I dearly love it.

My entire worldview is entrenched deeply in the natural world, its soil and its creatures, its rhythms and its cycles. This has not so much changed or catalyzed my life as grounded it, buried it with the roots of the mountains, kept it safe and solid as long as I remember to reach down and touch the earth. I understand more, about anything and everything, when I look at things through animal eyes. I grok the human animal, and I find more compassion for my fellow living people of all species by knowing how the brain and body work. Life makes more sense when my heart lives in the soil.

Yeah, I think I’m pretty okay with my spirituality. :D