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.

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

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

Dua Sekhmet! Dua Bast! Nekhtet!

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!

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.

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.

An even closer shot of Bast Herself, with incense wafting before Her.
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:

Love You, Mama.

June 29, 2013

Shrine to Amun-Ra and Mut

Posted in Festivals, Stalking Beauty at 8:22 pm by

Hydrangeas and spiraea from the garden; two candles, one blue and one gold; sandalwood incense; cranberry-raspberry juice; and fresh-baked bread with honey for the the Feasts of Amun-Ra and Mut.

Hail to You, King of the Gods! Hail to You, Lady of Crowns! Nekhtet!

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!

January 9, 2013

Notes from a lunch hour

Posted in Stalking Beauty, Thoughts and Reflections at 1:07 pm by

I’m craving a certain kind of spiritual reading, but I don’t know exactly what. Or perhaps I’m craving the doing that such reading would describe. I often find that reading about something is a seductive replacement for actually doing it.

So what is that doing? Or…that being?

The quiet of an old garden on this mild, cloud-shadowed January day, stone walls and steps dark with dampness and moss. The trees leafless bare against the gray-patterned white sky, stirring almost imperceptibly in the breeze. Listening, in the silence, with the ears of the heart. With the ears of the ka.

I close my eyes and listen, sitting here at my office desk, half finished meatloaf to one side of me, half finished manuscript to the other. Low waves of Presence lap against me, curl down along my arms, tumbling riffles rolling over one another.

I breathe to share my breath with Her.

I touch my heart, seeking to hold it still, receptive, not generating fantasies or straining after unheard whispers, but simply…open.

And in the silence, I hear, low and strong as thunder, warm as the cloud-hidden sun, resonating at the base of my skull:


Divine affirmation, holy touch, mother’s comfort, a soft hiss through eager teeth. The word of all possibility. The world falling away before the cliff’s edge in all its sharp-edged beauty, aglitter in the dawn.

O Mother, You walk near me today.

October 17, 2012

Wanderings and processions

Posted in Festivals, Stalking Beauty at 2:59 pm by

Beautiful day yesterday, the clear sky, the wind, the first autumnal trees shading green-gold-red. I sat outside at lunch time, eating soup, reading a lovely book (The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield), and watching the leaves across the street shimmer and dance. Shu and Tefnut again: Tefnut in the flame, the last bright glory as the Wandering Goddess retreats, heading toward the South; Shu the breath that kisses Her, that calls to Her, that eventually lures Her home.

I’ve been flailing a bit recently. Too much stress, too much stuff, so I’m simplifying once more. At least I haven’t fallen down my old rabbit hole again of frantic what’s wrong with my life anxiety, for which I’m very grateful. Things are pretty good overall. I’ve had to set the Gods of the week experiment to the wayside again (once more, too granular, I think), but I’m working on two rituals for the Procession of Bast before Ra this weekend, and I’ll be hosting an interesting get-together for the Procession of Nebt-het on the first weekend of November — it’ll be first time, as far as we can tell, that a state icon of a Kemetic Orthodox shrine has made a processional journey to another state shrine. (Imti will be bringing Nebt-het to visit with Bast; we’ll make a feast for them both, have a discussion about Nebt-het’s roles, and then make a night-time, candle-lit procession to various God shrines. I don’t know what exactly the two Goddesses are going to talk about while visiting with each other, but they both seem to be into the idea.)

So I’ll have plenty to do for the next couple of weeks.

April 9, 2012

Windsong and words

Posted in On Writing, Stalking Beauty, The Wild Sky at 11:51 am by

I love to hear the wind whistle outside my office window, to see the blowing cherry petals flashing bright-dark-bright against the eggshell blue sky and the few slowly sailing, fray-edged clouds. If I lean forward at my computer, I can see an arch of the weeping cherry itself, the branches lashing like horse tails and then falling still, the flowers catching light. The wind flutes again, long notes like a Japanese shakuhachi; something about the angle of the corners or the windows here bows it, makes it sing.

A tiny dark spot moving across a cloud, impossibly high — a bird? I glimpse something golden that might be sun on wings, and then it leaves the cloud’s face and I lose it against the blue.

Another cloud growing larger, growing closer, almost seeming to descend as it fills my window, as if it were about to collide with the building…and then it passes over and is gone.

Now my office mate has her window open, the blind flapping, and I can feel the wind as well for a few moments before the blind flies up suddenly on a strong gust, and she hurries to close it again —

— * —

So I went out for a walk over my lunch hour (the wind was too much to resist), around the athletic fields, picking my way through drifts of violets, the sun’s warmth coming and going on my skin — walking into the wind, spreading my fingers like flight feathers and feeling the air curl around and behind them to lick against my palms. Feeling as if I could lift off and fly.

Walk, my Mother urges me. Write. Again and again. The things that I know are good for me, that lift me out of anxiety and depression. That turned my weekend around, from apathy and exhaustion to engaged activity. Clothes sorted, yard work accomplished, blog posts made, weekly offerings and prayers presented, and all because I put pen to paper and let the words flow, because I got outside, into the open air, beneath the sky. Breath of the wind and breath of the words, both raise me up, both raise up my heart.

O Bast, may I remember. The wind. The words. This wonder.