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

January 1, 2014

Start as you mean to go on

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 9:47 pm by

I feel very clear tonight, more so than I have in a long time. I got the balance right today, more or less: morning into afternoon of writing; state rite and some blog catch-up at night; and throughout, plenty of rest and kitty love-loves.

Kneeling before the shrine, it was right, it was good, I was content. And then my mind nearly got away from me, scattering off to make plans for all the many, many things I could potentially spend my gradually improving energy on (crafts! book reviews! buying shiny things for Bast!). But I pulled it back. Not that I’m not ever going to do those things, but — right now I need to be very circumspect, very careful. Let’s make sure I’m balancing these two plates — writing and temple service — consistently before I start trying again to spin a dozen others all at once. And when I do start reaching out, instead of busy, overambitious plans that are likely to overwhelm me before I even start, I want to keep it very simple — just one thing at a time, just what’s right before me in the moment.

I have, not a superstition exactly, but more like a principle, that whatever I spend the turning of the secular year doing will reflect how I spend the rest of the year. I did well this year, I think, writing at the turn of midnight last night and doing just what I wanted to today. So may it continue, and may 2014 be a good year — for all of my readers too, as well as for me.

Happy New Year, and Bast bless!

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 12, 2013

Flurries

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 1:01 pm by

First snow flurry of the year this morning. Dua Set!

(All right, so it’s not a mighty storm, but one has to start somewhere after taking the summer off.)

* * * *

And just in time for the Feast of the Soaring Falcon (ongoing this week), two statues featuring Montu have been discovered at His temple in Armant.

* * * *

Most interestingly, the day after declaring Zep Tepi and choosing peace, I got the first song that I’ve had in months. It’s for the Feast of Sekhmet and Bast before Ra, which will be this Friday and Saturday, so the timing is good.

Obviously there’s a lesson to be learned here, and in fact I’ve learned it before, and forgotten it, and relearned it, and forgotten it again. I’m not really sure what to do to make it stick.

November 11, 2013

Catching at peace

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 12:07 pm by

Driving in to work this morning with the music shuffle off, watching Ra gild the half-bare treetops in his rising, I felt a flicker of peace, and wondered at how fragile and fleeting a feeling that can be, and yet how precious. In the last few weeks, I’ve been angry and unkind, anxious and depressed, scattered and several different kinds of miserable. And I still don’t know how much of it was justified, how much was neurological downward spiral, and how much was self-delusion and grasping at shadows.

It doesn’t matter now. Zep Tepi once again, a chance to start over, to enter a new day. To try to do it better this time.

A gift found while walking at lunch: a cat-head-shaped leaf.

 
O Bast, may You watch over me, now and always, as Your daughter. May You grant me a cool heart and a joyful ka.

August 6, 2013

Home from Retreat

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 3:11 pm by

The clouds came in at some point today. I didn’t notice it, but the sky turned from the morning’s horizon-spanning clear blue to soft white quilting.

I’m back from the House of Netjer’s annual Wep Ronpet Retreat, a celebration of the Kemetic new year. As always, it was an amazing experience, and this year one that I sorely needed. I had burned myself out on work, freelance work, and assorted stress to the point where, for at least the past month, and probably longer, whenever I tried to reach out to Bast, I just felt a raw, empty hole where my heart should be. But from the beginning of the first event, the pre-Retreat priest training session, that hole was filled with calm and peace, and that connection was restored.

Now I’m back in New Jersey, and back to my job, and I have to try to keep that hole from being gouged out again. I’d already decided some weeks back that this was going to be a relax-o-year, which…may not pan out in a year dedicated to Heru-sa-Aset, but we’ll see. I’m already having an attack of “Projects! Whee!” so I think I need to sit down soon and set some boundaries and some intent for how best to use my time before things spin out of control.

And now the sky has darkened — looks of rain. Almost time to head home and sort out my evening.

June 30, 2013

Community thought

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 3:57 pm by

This post was interesting to me, considering all the talk that goes back and forth about how to build community and who is or isn’t part of any given community at any given moment: The Art of the Community.

Who do you show up for when they need you? Who shows up for you? Does community extend beyond that? Should it?

Ultimately, I don’t think I’d draw the borders quite as close as Anne does; I see community as being more layered, ranging from truly close “kin” community up through communities of proximity or necessity. But I may not be the best person to expound on this, considering I never really understood community on a visceral level until I joined the House, and I still don’t know what the trigger moment was that made me say, “Oh, yes, I see, *this* is *that.*”

May 18, 2013

Holding on

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 8:23 pm by

Ah. Rough week, full of medical shenanigans and “Really? This is my life?” moments, but at least I haven’t completely lost it. I did shrine rite tonight, and with Bast’s blessing got my ritual for tomorrow’s chat sketched out, so I have not yet flaked on one of these chats. I have not fallen completely into the void of apathy and nonresponsiveness. I have not had to go on leave from the priesthood again. I have not given up.

Each of these times is a tiny victory. And I thank Bast for Her patience and Her love, and my temple family for their prayers of support, all of which help me to stand up again, to keep walking, to keep working, to keep serving.

I raise my hands in praise to the light of the Lady of Joy.

I’m still here, Mama.

 
Amber sitting in the sunlight refracted from the beveled edge of my bedroom mirror

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 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.