I is for Iryt-Ra

27 May

The Eyes of Ra watch over me. They are the Bright Light, the Scorching Heat, and the Nurturing Warmth of the Sun. They shine golden, with the red-orange solar disc a crown on their heads. At Their Father’s command They give and take, protect and destroy, wound and heal. They are the enforcers of balance in the universe, the defenders of ma’at.

Hail Hethert! Hail Sekhmet! Hail Bast! Gold of the Gods, Bright Flame, the Invisible Paw: may I honor You this day and each day by bringing ma’at into our world.

Iryt-Ra is a title given to more than just these three solar goddesses. Aset, Wadjet, Tefnut, Serqet… nearly any goddess you can name in Kemet has a solar connection, and through that, become Ra’s Eyes who help to maintain order. Ma’ahes, a lion god, is (to my knowledge) the only male god to hold this title. Emky describes him as such: “I see His skin like magma, blaze-orange shining past patches of blackened char; to me, He is the setting sun, the transition between the golden glory of day and the encompassing darkness of night.” One translation of His name is “True before Her” where Her refers to the goddess Ma’at.

The Eyes of Ra are ever present – in the warmth, in the light that causes shadow, in all things that grow. They represent the action of bringing “a thousand of all good and pure things” to the Seen and Unseen worlds. They represent fighting back the forces of isfet. Essentially, They’re the Justice League of the gods.

Each day, look into the sky. When you see the light of the Eye chasing away the darkness, may you be reminded to do the same in your life this and every day.

H is for Historical Authenticity: It’s Not the Only Way

27 May

I get mad more often than not at the Pagan/Polytheist community. I get especially mad when they pick up one of my gods (or more often, my goddesses) and simplify them into something their not. Bast and Hethert’s associations with joy turn them into sexually pliant goddesses of drug and alcohol use. Sekhmet and Set become gods of evil for their destructive tendencies. Everyone who is considered female becomes a great mother goddess of fertility and menstrual wonders (this being the one that makes me the angriest, but the fertility cycles of Neo-Paganism and my contradicting views on it is a post for another day). “These are not my gods!” I cry into the keyboard, typing out my upsets onto the screen. “Historical inaccuracy!” I wail.

Yet I see Bast and Sekhmet-Hethert as twin sisters. Where’s the evidence for that?

What about Wing Fest, that new-fangled festival the House of Netjer just hosted for all of Kemet’s winged deities and spirits? The basis for that was dinner between friends.

What about the personal calendar I am planning to create, modern holidays for a modern world? What about the personal myths that I’ve created in my mind? My theology?

I am not even an armchair Egyptologist. I spend far more time dicking around on the internet than even looking for resources on the land my gods were born in. I have called myself Recon-lite, as in “let the other people research and let me learn from them.” I have called myself a revivalist. From the beginning, I have said that my gods are here now, and we should honor them as best fits our lives. And yet I feel qualified to tell others what the gods are and aren’t?

No one has that right. As a soft-polytheist, as a non-reconstructionist, as a layperson, I have that right least of all.

H is for Headcovering

1 May

When I was in eighth grade I had a scarf.

It was long, flowing, a variety of shades of pink. It started light, and the color deepened throughout, before fading again as it reached the end. I always found it particularly beautiful, but I couldn’t figure out exactly how the scarf should be worn. Around my neck? As a belt? On my head?

In the end, I did decide that covering up my ears (chronically sticking out where I didn’t want them) and hair (which even at my shoulders, felt too long) with the scarf was the way to go. The contrast it made against the school uniform was beautiful. When I moved into public school the next year, I had found a black scarf that I wore bandana-style over my hair. It stayed there until a group of boys began to make fun on me and call me a nun.

About a week ago (the 20th, I believe), I had a yearning to cover my hair again. I went into my mother’s room, took an old square bandana, and tied it loosely around my head. It’s stuck with me since – usually in the form of a pseudo tichel (my hair is way too short to do a proper one). For months, I had been reading blog after blog about pagan/polytheist women who covered their hair. Usually, they were god-spouses or Hestia’s women. It marked modesty for most of them. And while I thought it was beautiful, I didn’t think it would work for me. My goddesses did not seek for me to be modest, but to stand out and shine like Their own solar selves. My Fathers, I figured, did not particularly care about my looks. There was no Kemetic reasoning, ancient or modern, to convince me to cover my hair. As for myself, “modest dress” was something I did when insecure about my body, which my goddesses were teaching me to celebrate.

Hence my confusion at the compulsion I felt. At first I thought it might be Wepwawet asking me for this. Compulsion admittedly did not seem His style, but even less so was it Ptah’s. Ptah might be a king and creator, but His style is much subtler than Wepwawet’s has ever been in my life. It definitely wasn’t Sekhmet, Hethert, or Bast. I went with it, confused, and giving credit in my mind to the crafty Jackal I call Father.

As I began to cover more, I got a little less clumsy with the scarf I had. The four family members who have seen me all asked why when we met (“Because I like how it looks, and it feels right”), but did not object or push about it. My partner seems to like it (especially taking it off or putting it on), though his family remains curiously quiet. The only feedback I get has been positive, and I feel great. Some people say that head-covering helps them block out other energies, but it feels more like a filter to me. Yes, it blocks negative feelings from affecting me, but I feel much more in-tune with spiritual energies now, none more so than the ones who sent me this way: my ancestors.

I have never had a strong relationship with my akhu. They seem happy enough with me. The only akh I really feel like I knew in this life was Esther, and this isn’t her thing. It’s different akhu together, much older than her. Ones that are blood relatives, for one. I’m not sure how far back they go, or where they’re from, or anything, really, other than that they are women. They want me to connect with them, and this is the first step. I’m not sure where it’s going to go. I’m in their hands though – our blessed dead are why my family is where it is at today, and I won’t turn them away on good faith.

I wanted to get to know them anyway!

As for modesty and head-covering, I’m not sure how to treat that. I just got to the place where I like my body. I’m not going to lose the shorts, or start lengthening my sleeves, not in a summer drought. I know I’m not going to wear a hijab, as I am not a Muslimah and do not want to provide others with confusion (I already keep having to explain that I’m not a Unitarian-Universalist…) It’s all learning from here on out…

Dua Akhu – shining as gold in the arms of Nut! Help me to learn your ways, and honor you in ma’at, in all that I do.

G is for Great Expectations

11 Apr

I’ve lived a life full of great expectations; sometimes foolishly optimistic, but always expecting more of myself and my loved ones than we could handle. Sometimes, it lead to beautiful things, memories I treasure dearly. Other times, my expectations were fallow, and I weep at the loss of those infinite possibilities.

It’s far too easy to hold yourself back when you’ve lost a possibility. Perhaps you don’t land the job you want, or your finances just don’t pan out for a trip. Maybe you’re just shy of a certain GPA, or one you love sees someone else as a better mate than you. When that next opportunity comes up to make the job, the grade, the love – you tremble. You don’t want to do it, you don’t want to fail again. And that’s okay. That’s natural – but you have to take the leap.

Netjer wants more from us, no matter what form It takes. It is greater than us, It sees farther than us, It knows our capabilities. My Fathers are great forces in this world, building life and opening the way for all that is good, and I know in my heart what They expect of me, and it’s realizing that their expectations are far greater than my own, and give me the courage I need to act on and improve my self-expectations.

Their expectations?

To Love, and to Live.

G is for Gender

7 Apr

I don’t understand modern conceptions of Gender.

There, I’ve said it, I’m out. My family must be proud that at least some of my conservative upbringing won out. I’m not. It’s not an issue of me being opposed to those who are genderqueer, genderfluid, intersexed, or trans*; it’s an issue of not understanding, and frankly, not knowing where to look. I’m not comfortable asking questions. I feel like when I do ask them, I end up being more hurtful than helpful, and that’s not what I aim to do.

Gender is a huge issue within the greater Pagan/Polytheist community – just look at the controversy at PantheaCon. Look at questions of duality and of sexuality in a group of faiths that don’t consider sex (recreational or procreational) a taboo. As much as I want to hide, I can’t anymore, because in the past few months, understanding gender outside the binary has become an issue that touches my friends and faith, and through them, me.

The balance of duality was one of the many things that drew me to my initial path in Wicca, and it’s strange to be leaving it after so long, but I want to have better discourse with friends who I have unintentionally hurt, and with the Pagan/Polytheist community at large. If y’all are willing to share your own understandings of gender and help point the way to better understanding, I’d appreciate it.

 

Senebty,

Khen

LINK: Geb and Nut: The Creation of The World

7 Apr

Geb and Nut: The Creation of The World (PBP).

via SatSekhem.

F is for Filial Piety

7 Apr

In the Classic of Xiao, Confucius wrote: “The ancient kings had a perfect virtue and all-embracing rule of conduct, through which they were in accord with all under heaven. By the practice of it the people were brought to live in peace and harmony, and there was no ill-will between superiors and inferiors.”

This ideal – which sings to me of ma’at – is that of filial piety, the honoring of ones’ parents and ancestors. Of late, I’ve read many blogs by those who are lovers, spouses, or companions to their gods. My relationship with my primary gods and goddesses is different – I see them as my parents and guides. It’s a very different relationship than the relationships I’ve had with other Unseen beings (god and spirit alike) – but so is my relationship with my human mother. I might tease her, and we might fight, sometimes I even feel that I hate her; but at the end of the day, I’m here to help her, and I’m in awe of what she has done and has continued to do for us and our family. Likewise, I may joke around at the end of the day with my Fathers, but ultimately, I’m here serving Them, offering Them incense and water when I have naught else, because I love Them, and am awed by what they have done for me and Our family.

 

Ptah-Sokar is my Father; Wepwawet-Yinepu is my Father – as long as I live a life that honors Them, as long as I serve Them, I achieve that great virtue on which Confucian society is built. I may not know much about Confucian ideals, but I am grateful to him for sharing this one.

Hail, Fathers! May I honor you in all I do.

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