February 21, 2015

Coming back from the field

Posted in Netjeru, Tending the Shrine, Thoughts and Reflections at 4:45 pm by

I had a dream the other night in which I had left my Seven Arrows of Bast statues hidden in the tall grass around the edges of a field. I was going back to look for them, and I was afraid that someone else either had found them or would find them before I could get there. I located Wenut, and I was so glad to hold Her beautiful statue in my hands. I also was reassured for some reason that the next several statues, going clockwise around the field, were all going to be lions (which they aren’t actually — only Nefertem’s statue is actually a lion, although Heru-hekenu and Wadjet could both be depicted in that form).

It was a very vivid dream; also somewhat disturbing. I also came away with an unsettled feeling that Wenut wanted something from me. I thought about offering to Her, then put it off, then wondered if She was angry about that. Today I finally got up and dealt with it: I went into the shrine room, lit the incense that I had offered to Khonsu-Heru on the new moon (why not, since I was in there anyway), and offered Wenut one of Her favorites, warm milk with spices. I still couldn’t quite figure out what, if anything was going on, so I did some divination using Her oracle, which told me that the dream was indeed significant, but that there wasn’t any specific task I was supposed to. (Nor had I done anything to make Her unhappy, which was a relief, because I kept imagining that She was upset with me.) In the end, what She finally got across to me was, Just sit. Sit with Her, drink the milk, spend a few minutes in Her company. My mind stayed jittery, but even so. It was peaceful; it was good.

I think the dream might have been saying that I’ve sort of left the Seven Arrows “out in the field,” as it were. I haven’t been paying them a lot of attention — well, I was largely out of the Kemetic action for nigh on a year, getting my brain meats back in order, and coming back, my first priority of course has been Bast. But I need to not forget about them, even if I’m not doing anything large or profound in relation to them. I need to bring them back to my house.

How long does it take to sit in quiet reflection and drink a mug of warm milk? How long does it take to let a stick of incense burn down until the last pale swirls of smoke have faded? Not long at all. And yet it can make a great difference.

Hail to You, Wenut, She Who Is, She Who Exists. Nekhtet!

Divining with the Wenut Oracle.
Wenut oracle

September 21, 2014

Two Bast paintings

Posted in GodBling, Netjeru, Stalking Beauty at 4:16 pm by

Just wanted to share a couple of paintings that I commissioned from the ever-talented A’aqyt:

Winged Bast and Sekhmet, for the Feast of Sekhmet and Bast before Ra.
2014-09-21_Bast-and-Sekhmet

“Daisy Bast,” aka Bast of the First Time, based on a dream I had at the Wep Ronpet Retreat this year.
2014-09-21_Daisy-Bast

The photos do not do these pictures justice at all — they are gorgeous!

Dua Sekhmet! Dua Bast! Nekhtet!

December 28, 2013

The power of primordial Wenut, or, why I’ve been quiet here lately

Posted in Creative Fire, Doing Heka, Netjeru, On Writing, Thoughts and Reflections at 3:33 pm by

Around the middle of October, I performed a predawn ritual for the Saq-Khmun festival. The focus of the ritual was on a primordial form of Wenut, Wenut at the time of creation — a UPG/inspiration “discovery,” so I have no idea whether there’s any connection to ancient Kemetic myth or practice, but, well, She is definitely a Force. As I described in the earlier post, the ritual was designed to evoke creative energy and to help me get back to writing. And that energy came, all right, but I made two major mistakes: I didn’t have a specific project in mind into which to channel that energy, just a nebulous desire to do something; and I hadn’t addressed what was blocking me from writing. So there was this tremendous surge of creative force that had nowhere to go. I ended up driving around that afternoon for two aimless hours, then went home and went completely mental for the rest of that month. I’m not terribly proud of that period.

At around the same time as I conceived of the ritual, I commissioned a pair of statues from Nicolas of Shadow of the Sphinx, a primordial Wenut and an apotropaic/Eye of Ra Wenut. It took about a month and a half for us to work out all the details and the statues to be completed; they arrived at the end of November, and on December 1 I welcomed them home with offerings. During the time they were being worked on, I was in a sort of retreat, concentrating on rest and on clearing the way of all kinds of anxiety and overwhelm. By the time they got here, I was poking at some story ideas. And I knew that having invited primordial Wenut into my home, I was going to have to engage with Her power in a more constructive way.

This was confirmed when I did a Wepwawet Stone Oracle reading for myself around the end of November. I’d been having that feeling of being stuck in my life, and I asked Him, What should I do about this? Is there Someone I should talk to? How can I move forward? And the reading…could not have been more explicit if glowing words had appeared on the divining cloth. Only one stone landed in the main part of the cloth: the ben-ben, the primordial mound of creation, face down, signifying blocked creativity, lying where Tefnut and Shu, the heart and the mind, are reunited and seek reconciliation. The other four stones all drift in the Nun, the sea of possibility, not currently manifest: the journey toward sweetness (sun barque near Nefertem), perfection’s becoming (four near Khepera), the constructive engagement with the critic-shadow (ibis face down near ram-headed Ra), the fulfillment of service (copper near Atum).

 
Picture of the stone cast (click for larger version).

 
Well. So that was where I committed myself, that writing had to be my priority. And since then, and since Wenut came home to me, I’ve been working, making real progress for the first time in…I can’t even remember how long.

(When I say “writing,” what I mean is not the songs, the rituals, the blog posts, which are all certainly writing and worthwhile creative endeavors. I mean fiction writing, the dance with the characters, the sharing of their stories, that kind of falling in love.)

I’ve been on part-time priest service for the last couple of months while I figured all of this out. And I’ve been trying to work out where my service is going to go from here.

Even before this whole journey of crash and burn and renewal, I had known this: that if for some reason I could absolutely not do both and had to choose one, writing or priestwork, I would choose writing. Some people would probably say that this makes me a terrible and unworthy priest of Bast. But it is what it is. Bast knows, and She has not ever judged me for this. Writing is my service to Her too; She who subsists on joy is made glad by that which brings me joy.

But I want to try to balance them. I truly do. (And I’m not really sure why it’s so hard.)

So for right now, I’m seeing how well I can maintain with part-time priest service and with intensive writing taking place mainly on the weekends. (Of course, I’m off-pure at the moment, so the balance issue is less immediately pressing.) If I can manage to get back to full-time service that would be a plus, but I’m not going to stress out over it.

I’m looking forward to this upcoming year; I think 2014 is going to be a turn-around point for me. It’s definitely going to be dedicated to finishing at least one novel-length original fiction work. (And some long-abandoned but fun fanfiction works as well.) FYI, I do my writing progress reports and other related babble on my Livejournal, if you’re at all curious, though I only started posting there again recently.

So anyway — here’s to a year of creativity!

Dua Wenut in Your Name of Lady of the First Time! Nekhtet!

 
My two commissioned Wenut statues. Primordial Wenut: head of a lion, ears of a hare, body of a snake, coiled about the egg of creation. Apotropaic Wenut: lion-headed woman with the ears of a hare, carnelian sun disk, and uraeus, holding a knife. There are more and better pictures at Nicolas’s store. He has done some amazing work, but I think he really outdid himself here.

November 18, 2013

Lady of Renewal

Posted in GodBling, Netjeru, Stalking Beauty at 3:27 pm by

At the Procession of Nebt-het earlier this month, each person present drew a ribbon with one of Nebt-het’s names or aspects written on it, as a sort of oracle. Mine was “Lady of Renewal.” I was fortunate enough to win a free painting as part of a promotion for Mythic Curios, and I ended up asking the artist for a meditation on that theme. Here is the lovely result!

 
“Lady of Renewal” by Ty Barbary
Lady of Renewal painting

 
Dua Nebt-het!

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.

August 15, 2013

The Feast of Ma’ahes

Posted in Festivals, Netjeru, Stalking Beauty at 5:28 pm by

Today I celebrated the Feast of Ma’ahes. Officially, this festival falls on I Akhet 2 (August 4, this year), but that day is always the Sekhmet Baths at Retreat, so I never really have a chance to do anything for it. Rather arbitrarily, therefore, I moved it to I Akhet 13 to follow the Feast of Nefertem.

Providentially, I stayed up much too late last night, and when I woke up this morning after only four hours of sleep, I decided that it would be counterproductive to go to work. So I called in a sick day, slept in, and then went out to enjoy the beautiful day and have a hot stone massage. In a few minutes, I’ll be going out for teriyaki beef in honor of the Great Lion.

For those who are following along at home, Khonsu-Heru’s festival day will be the Jubilation of the First Full Moon, which will be on August 20, per the Old Farmer’s Almanac. (The official HoN calendar has it on August 21.)

We don’t have much information about Heru-hekenu, but Horus, Royal God of Egypt by Samuel Mercer notes that the seventeenth day of the month was sacred to Him. Since Mercer doesn’t say what month, one might assume that he’s talking about the lunar calendar, and thus means every month. (I did try briefly to do something for Heru-hekenu every month, but it was a bit overwhelming. Maybe I’ll try again someday.) The ancient Egyptians counted the lunar calendar from the morning of the dark of the moon, so the seventeenth falls on the day after the full moon. So I hereby decree that to be the Feast of Heru-hekenu.

More to come as it happens….

 
A candle in a red holder, lit at noon for Ma’ahes.

 
Dua Ma’ahes — nekhtet!

August 14, 2013

The Feast of Nefertem

Posted in Festivals, Netjeru, Stalking Beauty at 10:15 am by

From this morning, for the Feast of Nefertem. Before Him is a blue floating candle in a glass of water, symbolic of the blue lotus rising from the waters of the Nun.

 
I was trying to catch the effect of His looming shadow. I have no idea what that blue gleam is. But it’s, uh, interestingly placed.

 
With His mother’s flowers.

 
Dua Nefertem — nekhtet!

August 13, 2013

The Procession of Nesret in Akhet

Posted in Festivals, GodBling, Netjeru, Stalking Beauty at 2:11 pm by

More shrine pictures — because who doesn’t like shrine pictures? But first, some exposition.

Another entry on my personal calendar is the Procession of Nesret in Akhet. “Nesret” means “female flame” and is a title of the fiery Eye of Ra. Of course I appropriated this festival for Bast. (Is anyone surprised? Anyone? Bueller?) “In Akhet” is to distinguish it from the Procession of Nesret in Peret, which takes place in the second season (Growing), as opposed to this one, which is in the season of Inundation. The particular take I’ve given this festival is that it honors Bast as “the Flame whose coming heralds the Inundation.” (I have strong connections of fire and water and fire on the water for Her, so this speaks deeply to me.) It also connects tangentially to traditional Kemetic new year’s petitions to the Eye of Ra goddesses for protection — or at least lack of destruction — and a good year.

The festival observance includes calling upon the Four Sons of Bast. I had mentioned them very briefly here, and Khenne had asked for more information, which I didn’t feel up to providing at the time. I’m still in the very beginning baby steps of working with them, so I don’t have a whole lot of illumination to share, but here’s what’s relevant at the moment:

The Four Sons of Bast as a group aren’t historically a thing, but Bast does have four sons (at least — She may have others in various regional variations of Her worship, but these are probably the most prominent ones), and four is a highly significant number, associated with completion and perfection. (There’s also a precedent for this concept in the Four Sons of Heru.) The four are Nefertem, Ma’ahes, Khonsu-Heru, and Heru-hekenu. Yes, there are some familiar names there; three of them overlap with the Seven Arrows. In this festival, the Four Sons are called upon to go forth to the four horizons in order to protect and bless the land in the season of flood.

So I wrote this elaborate, all-day extravaganza of a ritual — well, all right, maybe not that much of an extravaganza, since it didn’t actually call for thirty dancing chantresses and a barque covered in gold leaf (sorry, Ibu), and the ritual parts didn’t actually run all day, just at certain times, so there was plenty of free time for relaxing in the presence of the Gods and communing with them. But it still proved too overwhelming for me to pull off this year, so instead I performed an abbreviated version, one that will also serve as the basis of a ritual chat I’m doing for this festival later in the week.

Ideally there would also be an observance for each of the Four Sons during this month — there were already festivals for Ma’ahes and Nefertem in the official calendar, and some basis for creating ones for Khonsu-Heru and Heru-hekenu — but I don’t know how elaborate these will be. Probably, given my current mental weather forecast (scattered with a chance of overwhelm), they’ll be rather simple. We’ll see.

Today is the actual date of the Procession of Nesret in Akhet, but this is my shrine from when I celebrated it on Sunday:

 
The full shrine, with statues of Bast and Her sons. The bowl in front of the shrine holds water and five floating candles, one of which was lit as each of the gods was called upon.
Nesret_festival_2

 
Close-up of the gods. (Be sure to click to embiggen.) In hindsight, when I commissioned these statues I should have had double crowns put on Heru-hekenu and Ma’ahes, but oh well. Too late now, and it would have added a lot of expense anyway, as Ma’ahes is a recasting of Nefertem without the lotus, and to add the crown would probably have involved creating a whole new model and mold.
Nesret_festival_4

 
An even closer shot of Bast Herself, with incense wafting before Her.
Nesret_festival_3
I feel a little conflicted about these statues sometimes. It was a lot of money to have them made — fortuitously supplied at just the right moments (thank You, Mama), so I never had to do without necessities or go into debt, but still, I have some guilt that maybe they’re purely a frivolity, a vanity. And then there are moments like in the middle of this festival, when I look at them standing there together with the flowers and the incense and the candlelight, receiving my prayers and libations, and I think, This is beauty. And it exists because of me — it wasn’t my hands and skill that created these forms, but it was my intent and motivation and desire to have images of my beloved gods that caused them to come into being. Maybe this is like what a patron of the arts in the Renaissance or in antiquity must have felt, a combination of pride and awe and humility. So I can’t really regret them.

 
And for today, the actual date of the Procession, a gesture less grand, but still beautiful:
rose-for-Nesret-1

 
Love You, Mama.

The Festival of Stars: Ten Days for Nut

Posted in Festivals, Netjeru at 11:44 am by

I had some inspiration while I was poring over old House of Netjer calendars in order to prioritize festivals and create my own personal calendar of celebrations. I discovered that there was a Feast of Nut on I Akhet 4 (the fourth day of the first month of Inundation) and on I Akhet 13. The two together bracket ten days, which is a Kemetic week. In addition, if you count from the birth of Nebt-het on the fifth of the Epagomenal Days, the latter feast would have taken place at approximately the same time that a woman would have emerged from her post-birthgiving confinement and introduced her child to the community. So I thought it seemed appropriate to declare the Festival of Stars: Ten Days for Nut, a festival honoring Nut as the Mother of the Gods.

To that end, I’ve been doing a brief daily ritual with offerings for Her, as well as starting a discussion on the House of Netjer boards and running an online ritual chat. So far the response has been gratifyingly enthusiastic. As an interesting synchronicity, the Perseid meteor shower coincides with this festival, and some people have been able to get out late at night and watch the shooting stars as part of their celebration. Sadly, the weather has been too overcast here.

Here are my shrines from the festival. (Unfortunately, the lighting in my shrine room is really not conducive to great pictures.)

First I did a brief ritual to honor Djehuty for His assistance to Nut. In myth, Djehuty won the extra five Days upon the Year by gambling with the moon god (Iah or Khonsu) so that Nut would be able to bear Her children.
Djehuty_shrine

 
Here’s the Nut shrine itself. The cookies that you can see just behind the round alabaster candle holder are Biscotti Pan di Stelle, a fortuitous find at the local ShopRite. (I did not realize until after I’d taken the picture that Her cow holiday ornament is doing a header into the blue vase in the background.)
Nut_shrine_1

 
A view that shows the shrine image.
Nut_shrine_2

 
Dua Nut — nekhtet!

May 29, 2013

Making “star salt” for the Noble Lady

Posted in Creative Fire, Netjeru at 7:04 pm by

I swear, I do not go out of my way to look for really obscure Gods. The Names I already honor must be spreading rumors about me; either that, or I have a psychic door open somewhere.

Anyway, a couple of months ago I had one of those moments when I wake up with a Thing in my head. Last time it was the Phoenician Bast Oracle. This time it was something called “star salt.” What it was, I had no idea, but I had to make it. But first, I wanted to figure out where it was coming from. And after a combination of Twenty Questions with the Bast Oracle and some internet research, I finally narrowed it down. It was Opet-Nut.

The who? Nut at least is well known as the Goddess of the starry night sky, She who raises Ra into the sky in one myth, and in another swallows Him at dusk and gives birth to Him at dawn. Opet (aka Ipet; listed under Ipy at Henadology) is a hippopotamus-formed Goddess rather like Taweret. She was associated with protection and birth, and like other maternal Goddesses She was depicted nursing the King. She also has astral connections, being one of the Kemetic constellations. Her temple at Karnak, which was located in the Amun precinct near the Khonsu temple, featured a myth in which Amun dies as Wesir and is reborn through Opet-Nut as Khonsu (Arnold, 166). So yes, Opet-Nut is a traditional syncretization, although a very late one (Ptolemaic). Edward at Henadology cites a spell from the Leyden Papyrus that pairs Nut as “mother of water” with Opet as “mother of fire,” which is also a very interesting conjunction of the two. (Though as a hippopotamus Goddess She would seem to be watery, Opet’s attributes included candles or torches and incense offerings; thus fire.)

I did make the “star salt,” which ultimately consisted of salt, opalescent glitter, frangipani essential oil, powdered rose incense, and a pinch of natron “to make it brighter.” I offered it to Opet-Nut, then sprinkled it around and in my bed, and fell asleep embraced by the love of the Lady of Magical Protection.

Dua Opet-Nut!

 

 
References

Aly Abdalla, “The Cenotaph of the Sekwaskhet Family from Saqqara,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 78 (1992) 93-111. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3822067

Dieter Arnold, The Encylopedia of Ancient Egyptian Architecture (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003).

Edward Butler, “Ipy,” at Henadology. http://henadology.wordpress.com/theology/netjeru/ipy/

Jimmy Dunn/Jim Fox, “The Temple Opet (Ipet, Apet),” at Touregypt.net. http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/opettemple.htm

Robert K. Rittner, “O. Gardiner 363: A Spell against Night Terrors,” JARCE 27 (1990), 25-41. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40000071

Richard H. Wilkinson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2003), 184.