September 24, 2012

H is for honoring the Gods of my house

Posted in Netjeru, Pagan Blog Project 2012, Thoughts and Reflections at 10:18 am by

I spend a lot of time making lists. Sometimes these lists are helpful — to-do lists are always good (as long as I don’t try to put too many things on them). At other times, lists just cause me to run into a wall. This usually happens when I try to use them to figure things out, to categorize and put meaning to a whole lot of options. These attempts most often end up being confusing or distancing, or both.

One of the items on my big To Do list (this is one of the good lists, I think) is “Honoring the Gods of my house.” Which leads me to try to quantify who exactly those Gods are. On numerous occasions I’ve tried to make a list of “Gods I worship,” and this always makes my head spin. The list keeps spiraling out of control, getting longer and longer — I’ve worked with this God! I really like that God! — but when I try to trim it back, I worry that I’m neglecting Someone, that offense will be taken if I leave Someone off, that I’m being unforgivably rude with all of this picking and choosing.

Which is kind of silly. This isn’t Facebook; the Gods probably don’t really care if you unfriend them, unless you’ve already made definite commitments, or you’re undeniably theirs in some way. They have bigger and better concerns. And with a full-time job and the demands of maintaining a household, there is sadly a limit to how much time and energy one has for devotions. So, priorities.


Bast and Her Pesedjet

Of course, Bast is primary — first, last, and always. I’m using pesedjet here to refer to the various groupings of Gods that constellate around Her: the Seven Arrows, the triads of Per-Bast and Mennefer, Her several sons, and so on. (This word is typically rendered with the Greek word “ennead,” as in the Ennead of Heliopolis. Both “ennead” and “pesedjet” mean “nine,” and there are ten Gods involved here, but apparently the ancient Kemetics were sometimes flexible in their actual ennead numbers; cf. Wilkinson, Complete Gods.) I’ve done a fair bit of work with and for these Gods, but there’s so much more I could do, so much farther I could go. This group alone could probably take up all of my time.


My Beloveds

In addition to Bast, there are the other two Gods of my RPD: Nut and Amun-Ra. They have not been getting nearly enough attention lately, which is something that I need to address.


Wise Ones, Guides, and Protectors

This is a small group of Gods that…it’s hard to quantify my connection to them as a group. Wepwawet commissioned His oracle from me, and I call on Him frequently. Set is the beautiful Lord of Storms who watches over my house through the winter. Sekhet, Goddess of the Fens, owns the wetland in my fields and has things to teach me. The Lioness Goddesses (all of them together — a sort of multi-entity) give me straight talk and smacks to the head when necessary, as well as uncompromising, tough-love support.


Household and Shrine Gods

The connections are a bit tenuous here; these are the relationships that I’m exploring as part of my Gods of the week/deities of the home practices, and I’m not entirely certain this is all going to work out. But we’ll see. Renenutet lives in the kitchen, Bes guards the bedroom, and Aset in Her Name of Tayet is over purity in general, and the shrine room and bathroom in particular. (The other two household Gods — Wepwawet and Bast — have already been touched on above.)


After this is a jumble. There are Gods that I call upon in certain specific contexts (i.e., Serqet for heka to overcome an addiction, Sekhmet for healing), but I don’t have a day-to-day relationship with them. There are Gods that I acknowledge at the larger State festivals (i.e., Wesir, Aset, and Nebt-het during the Mysteries; Hethert and Heru during the Beautiful Reunion); but it feels weird to do so when I don’t have anything to do with them throughout the rest of the year. And there are Gods that I just think are really interesting, and I want to get to know them better (i.e., Satet and Anuket). I keep adding all of these to the list, and I think this is really where things start getting out of hand.

I guess the point that I’m reaching for here is that not every God one has contact with needs to be brought into the circle of one’s intimate God relationships. It’s okay to have a respectful but passing acquaintance with deities, to honor them on their festivals, to make periodic overtures because one needs help or just wants to say hello, but not to add them to one’s regular round of rites and commitments. There’s (rightfully) a backlash against the idea of “Gods as vending machines” — pagans and magicians picking Gods from a list and “using” them for spells and petitions without developing any relationships or acknowledging the deities’ personal and cultural preferences — but I think it’s not offensive to approach a God and ask for help in their area of influence, as long as one does it appropriately: requesting and not demanding, making offerings to please them and to say thank you for their favors, bowing to “the way things are done” with them. Think of people in the past who would make one-off trips to a healing shrine, say, or to an oracle, or who while traveling would propitiate the local Gods for blessings, without ever becoming a full devotee. Courteous professional relationships, rather than personal ones.

When I asked Bast in shrine the other night, “Who are the Gods of my house?” She replied, Whoever you want. Equal parts amused and annoyed, I thought She was just shrugging off the whole issue — me chasing my own tail, as usual. But now I think She actually gave me a straight answer. The Gods of my house are those I invite in to share my home and my daily life — nothing more or less than that.

So for now, here are the Gods of my house (subject to updates as we work through these relationships):

O You Gods of my house, I praise and adore You.
Hail to You, Bast and Your Pesedjet!
Hail to You, Nut and Amun-Ra!
Hail to You, Wepwawet, Sekhet, Set, and the Great Lionesses!
Hail to You, Renenutet, Bes, and Aset-Tayet!
May You bless me and those I love; may You cast Your light upon my dwelling; may you be friends to me, now and always. You are welcome here, a million times welcome.
Dua Netjer — nekhtet!

1 Comment »

  1. Gold of the Valley, Lapis of the River » Jackal shower said,

    September 30, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    […] It’s Wepwawet’s week, […]

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