February 5, 2015

On the Day When the Eye of Ra Calls the Shemsu

Posted in Being Kemetic, Festivals, Tending the Shrine at 9:29 pm by

Today was the festival known as The Eye of Ra Calls the Shemsu. In Kemetic Orthodoxy, it’s a time to contemplate the vows that we’ve taken (or that we might be considering taking). To celebrate the festival, this evening I performed a small ritual of reading my vows, making offerings, and singing songs.

Tonight was also the night that I reopened my State shrine after nearly a year of hiatus. It felt like an auspicious night for it, since my shrine is after all named for the Eye of Ra (“The Eye of Ra Watches over Them”); and it also served to underscore the importance of the service that I’ve pledged myself to. So here I am, back again, renewed in Zep Tepi, ready to do my Mother’s work once more.

Shrine for the festival The Eye of Ra Calls the Shemsu
Shrine for the Eye of Ra

Dua Eye of Ra! Nekhtet!
 

November 13, 2013

The Gods want pie

Posted in Being Kemetic, Humor, Netjeru, Silly Shrine Stories at 4:03 pm by

This is a funny story from a while back….

My housemate had made an apple pie, and I was offering a slice of it in the State Rite. Suddenly I “hear” Wenut from the Seven Arrows shrine behind me:

Omigod, I want that.

(Of course, Gods don’t actually say “omigod,” but it gives you some idea of the sheer intensity of want.)

So after the Rite, I went and got another piece of pie — the last piece, as it happened — and offered it to Her, which made Her very happy.

*long pause*

All the other Gods in my shrine room: …WE WANT PIE.

(This is where I perform an anime-style facefault.)

And shortly afterward, from my Akhu, when I reverted some of Bast’s offerings to them: We have pie! (said with great glee)

I swear, my shrine room….

So one of these days, I need to get a whole pie and make a general offering of it to everyone in the room. I just hope they don’t stampede and wreck the place.

May 27, 2013

Gardening with Gods

Posted in Being Kemetic, Home and Temple, Netjeru, Stalking Beauty, Tending the Shrine at 6:01 pm by

Garden madness has struck, I fear. I succumbed to the need to have all the plants, which now means I have to plant all the plants. In our lovely clayey New Jersey soil. I spent several hours today and got half of the irises in. Little by little I’ll get there.

Before I began, I set up a small shrine outside and brought out Bast and Wenut to oversee the work. There’s something remarkable about being in the midst of hard digging and having a sudden cool breeze bring you a powerful waft of incense. Sweetness from the bower of the Gods!

 
Here they are enjoying some of the annuals that are still to be planted: snapdragons, marigolds, verbena, and fragrant alyssum. Dua Bast! Dua Wenut! May You be satisfied!
gardening-gods

May 12, 2013

Making peace with distraction

Posted in Being Kemetic, Festivals, Thoughts and Reflections at 8:25 pm by

Happy Beautiful Feast of the Valley! I’m sorry I didn’t manage to organize a blog celebration for this festival after all. I was derailed partly by needing to put some attention toward a freelance project, and partly by one of my periodic shifts of energy and focus. I started poking at one of my fiction writing projects and made some good progress there, but I always struggle to balance the non-God-related writing with my religious work. And Bast never pushes me back toward the God side, as She seems equally delighted no matter which kind of work I’m doing. (Both the creative writing and the overt God-service are dedicated to Her anyway.) So in any case, I’ve been deep in the internal creative world for the last week or so and thus not as active as usual.

But today was my weekly Tea with Bast fellowship chat, and as always, spending time with other members of the community has helped to shift me back toward equilibrium, at least a little. So today’s writing endeavor is this blog post, such as it is.

In addition to today being part of the multiday Beautiful Feast of the Valley festival, it’s also a feast of Wadjet, so tonight I gave Her an offering of cheese and crackers, dried cranberries, and cranberry-raspberry juice. Small as it was, She was pleased.

The Gods are happy to be remembered in ways great or small, simple or fancy. And the Gods are happy to see us fulfilling our potential, no matter what tasks we feel called to do. How much more gracious and understanding they are toward us than we often are toward ourselves!

As part of the Bast-as-Queen heka that I did last month, I wrote that I wanted to be able to fulfill all of my responsibilities — to myself, to my Gods, to my home and to those who depend on me — with commitment and grace. May it be so.

A temporary shrine for the Appearance of the Four Sons of Bast, a new festival that I also celebrated last month.
4sons-1-s

March 28, 2013

Celebrating the Beautiful Festival

Posted in Being Kemetic, Festivals at 8:54 am by

Saryt has posted about her experience with the Set, LotO ritual — awesome!

So her comment that she enjoyed sharing in another person’s ritual got me to thinking — wouldn’t it be cool to have a Kemetic-blog-wide shared festival event? Where people can share their initial plans for how they intend to celebrate, draw inspiration from and build upon each other’s ideas, and then post a description/commentary/photo essay on what the actual experience was like?

I was thinking the Beautiful Feast of the Valley might be a good one to undertake. It’s a pretty universal, major festival, and it’s far enough in the future that people would have time to plan and coordinate. (The festival begins on the new moon in the second month of Shomu, which is around May 9 this year, and it runs for ten days, which gives people a lot of flex in when they schedule their celebrations.)

– Rev. Neferuhethert on the Beautiful Feast of the Valley
– Kiya on looking ahead to and celebrating the BFV in 2012
– oh, hey — I’ve celebrated it too (though not in great depth)

Any thoughts?

March 27, 2013

The Feast of Set, Lord of the Oasis 2013

Posted in Being Kemetic, Festivals at 9:25 am by

Here are my photos from this year’s Feast of Set, Lord of the Oasis. (See the ritual text for context.) The four shrine views are linked to larger versions of the images.

 
The shrine on the first night.

 
Another view, an hour or so later, when the candle has burned down quite a bit and some offerings have been partaken of.

 
(Nathan Fillion voice: The candle is Set’s penis.)

 
A minute or two before going out.

 
Set takes a nap.

 
The next evening: Roses for the ka of the Lord of the Oasis

 
Set enjoys His offerings of barbecued pork ribs and salad.

 
A closer view. Is it just me, or does He look rather smug?

Dua Set! Nekhtet!

 
(For those who don’t get the Nathan Fillion reference: Captain Hammer from “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”.)

March 26, 2013

Bringing the doing

Posted in Being Kemetic, Thoughts and Reflections at 3:22 pm by

Sannion has a couple of recent posts (here and here) on the issue of there being too many writers and not enough do-ers in pagandom. That people are so busy venting their opinions on whatever the controversy of the week is that they don’t have time to build their own personal practice or community.

I think this is why I’m generally not very current on this blog. I see these topics come and go, and I think I want to say something relevant, but when I come down to it, formulating a point of view and putting it into words just feels wearisome. And if it’s not bringing me joy, working through some necessary issue in my own life, or serving the Gods, what’s the point? I’d rather babble on about going out at lunch time for my first long walk in ages to celebrate the early spring flowers (the first daffodils are out!) for the Feast of Set. Which was awesome, by the way. Such a pretty day, with the perfect amount of spring briskness.

The Gods know, we’re trying in the House to bring the doing. It makes such a huge difference when people are working on projects together or getting together in person; it builds a foundation that lifts everything up, personal and communal alike. It’s hard — inertia is always a factor, and attrition, and personal conflicts, and just the busyness and distraction of everyday life. But you have to keep trying. Whether in individual practice or as part of a group, you have to keep flowing, or else you stagnate.

There are probably too many readers, as well as too many writers, come to think of it. And I know this issue well from the inside, as I frequently find myself reading on a subject as a replacement for actually doing something concrete, like practicing meditation or developing my own relationships with the Gods. (I’ve even been known to carry books around like talismans, as if having them next to me will magically cause my life to be simplified and my wisdom and tranquility to be increased.)

Other people have said it, but I think it’s worth saying again: Do. Act. Live your religion. Nobody else can live it for you.

And now I’m going home to feast with the Lord of Thunder.

So much God….

Posted in Being Kemetic, Creative Fire, Festivals, Netjeru at 8:21 am by

Busy, busy week of Godstuff. Yesterday and today I’m celebrating the Feast of Set, Lord of the Oasis; last night was taken up by a ritual I wrote for Him, which resulted with me spending about two hours in the shrine room talking to Set (or talking at Him, at least), singing songs, making a somewhat laughable attempt at drumming, drinking more alcohol than I’ve ever had at one go (which is, er, half a short tumbler of White Russian — I loathe the taste of most alcoholic drinks and so never have more than a sip, but this was pretty good), and generally doing entertaining human stuff. Set seemed to take it well; at any rate, He seemed very mellow and rather amused. Tonight is the feast part of the Feast: barbecued pork ribs and salad. Yum.

I’m also trying to write a mystical short story about Mut for the journal that the House is putting out in connection with its “Queens’ Weekend” celebration later this spring. This doesn’t jibe so well with the Set business, but at least I’ve started it, and hopefully will be able to eke it out later this week.

And then this Sunday has four separate things that I want to celebrate: my modern-day Feast of Wenut, for which I’m gleefully appropriating Easter; an acknowledgment of the first day of a new Kemetic month (I Shomu); “Sunset Prayers and Feasts for All the Gods”; and a special Bast…thing. (Unlike the Set ritual, which I’ve perhaps been a little too eager to prematurely share, this one needs to stay under wraps until I’ve actually done it.) I have the general idea of what these are all going to be about, but I need to concretize ahead of time what I’m actually going to do. So there’s planning and writing that needs to be done.

Next week is kind of busy too, actually, with a four-day Feast of Amun-Ra (who I really need to give more attention to), another Bast thing, and the Sixth-Day Festival. And then I can fall over the following week.

It’s good, though. I’m sure a lot of people out there in the world would totally not understand spending a couple of hours sitting in a room by oneself in the company of a God statue, but hopefully some of my readers here do. In any case, it was definitely worth doing.

March 22, 2013

KRT: Unverified personal gnosis (UPG)

Posted in Being Kemetic, Kemetic Roundtable, Thoughts and Reflections at 2:10 pm by

 
Unverified Personal Gnosis/Doxa:
– What is it, how you do get it?
– What are the rules on it?
– How important is it? Should we rely on it?
– Should we pay attention to others’ UPG, or let it influence our own UPG/practice?

 

So very timely for me, this subject, as I’m currently staring down the deadline for writing a ritual with an extremely personal-gnosis focus.

As you might guess from the above, I do make fairly heavy use of personal gnosis. I dance a fine line here — as a Kemetic Orthodox W’ab priest, in my official mode I have to follow a very formalized set of practices. Although I receive a fair bit of personal gnosis during the state rite, the state rite is not the place to enact that gnosis. And that’s fine.

And then there’s this tremendous in-pouring of creative inspiration and out-pouring of creative expression, with a whole lot of crackling mental connections and “ooh!” and “aha!” moments in between the two. (Not to mention the occasions when one or another of the Gods will come right out and say something that melts my brain.) All of this has to go somewhere — has to find use somewhere. Trying to process all these insights and make a place for them in practice while still remaining coherent and reasonably traditional can be a real challenge, even with polyvalent thinking to smooth out the paradoxes. Whee.

When I first realized that my heart lay with Bast, something that was very important (to me or to Her? or to both of us? I’m not quite sure at this point) was to learn how She would have traditionally been honored in ancient Egypt. I didn’t want to fold her into my generic semi-neo-wiccan sort-of-a-practice; I didn’t want to just make stuff up. That was how I ended up in Kemetic Orthodoxy in the first place.

Granted, it could be said — and there are certainly people out there who would say it — that Kemetic Orthodoxy is itself rooted in Rev. Siuda’s personal gnosis. The Rite of Parent Divination, for example, originated in a directive from Sekhmet; it was created to fill a modern need that would have been unknown in ancient Kemet, where from childhood one would be aware of one’s Gods, the Gods of the nome, of the community, of the family. In other respects, however — the importance of purity, the prayers we speak, the holy days we celebrate, the veneration of the ancestors and the embracing of ma’at — Kemetic Orthodoxy is quite traditional.

To my mind, both historical study and personal gnosis have their places. Historical study gives us a solid, shared structure that contains us and gives us a level place to stand. It unifies us across the boundaries of individuals and small groups — without it, I wouldn’t be writing this post, as there wouldn’t be a Kemetic roundtable. (It would be a “group of people with random Egyptianish beliefs” roundtable.) Personal gnosis — and shared gnosis, or generally accepted gnosis — patch the gaps and embellish the structure. I think we would be a lot poorer if we were missing either element.

How much can we rely on gnosis? That depends on how well we’re able to determine whether it is both functional and “true” — and by “true,” I mean true to the spirit of the myths, the practices, the Gods, and true to our own experiences. This holds whether it’s our own gnosis or that of other people. As others have said, discernment is key in spiritual practice; and learning discernment is a process. It doesn’t come all at once.

When I share something from my personal experiences, I try to draw a very clear line between what comes from me and what comes from history, even though I’m fairly sure that this very distinction is not in itself historical. I have trouble imagining that the ancient Kemetics footnoted their practices. Maybe they had a clearer channel to the Gods. Or maybe they just trusted their channels more. In any case, this distinction is crucial for some people, and I enjoy supplying it anyway, being perhaps a little too proud of showing off my bonafides. Plus I don’t really want to send someone new, who hasn’t yet developed their own sense of discernment, hopping off down the bunny trail, only for them to get totally confused or to be slapped down by someone else for “doing it wrong.”

In any event, I don’t think I could do a religion that didn’t leave room for personal gnosis. To me, personal gnosis is the knowing of the heart, the knowing that resounds through all my bodies, and my life is immeasurably enriched by what the Gods show me. But I also find great joy and enrichment in studying the traditions of the past, which connect me other Kemetics, both ancient and modern. A downside of personal gnosis can be its isolating factor, when no one else shares those particular understandings. I think it’s essential to balance it out with what can be verified and shared.

(Links to other Kemetic Roundtable posts on UPG can be found here.)

March 17, 2013

Onion Day 2013

Posted in Being Kemetic, Cats, Doing Heka, Festivals at 8:32 pm by

It’s been a couple of weeks since our get-together for the Day of Chewing Onions for Bast, so I figured I was overdue to post a few photographs, for anyone who might be curious.

 
The first step in the festivities was adorning the house jackal with green ribbons.

 
He got an offering too.

 
Bast, of course, got many more offerings. It being Her day and all.

 
We created “onions” — notecards with onions drawn on the outside and a list of things to purge from our lives on the inside — to be given to Bast for Her to devour.

 
We also wrote prayers on green ribbons, which would later be tied to Her statue.

 
Prayers and offerings finished, we burned the “onions,” delivering them up to Bast.

 
My queen cat, Meera, watches the goings on.

 
A demonstration of my new Bast oracle followed.

 
Afterward, we carried Bast’s statue in procession to the back garden.

 
Sobeq offers incense and Mose pours water.

 
Bast, adorned with all our prayers.

 
Dua Bast!

*Not shown: the eating of the Bloomin’ Onion.

(Thanks to Imti for taking all the photos!)