Archive | February, 2012

Connected?

22 Feb

I’ve connected this blog to my twitter, since my friends have expressed an interest. As I’m still catching up on the Pagan Blog Project, I apologize to my twitterers!

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Lent without the Ash (and the Christ)

22 Feb

Today, I decided to give up meat for Lent. I’ve never participated in Lent and didn’t even know about it until middle school or high school. If there are any symbolic elements to Lent that are connected to Kemetic spirituality, I don’t know of them. I just feel a desire to participate, and so I will.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately of how to combine my culture as an American with my practices as a Kemetic. I want to create traditions and live more richly. Holidays such as Veterans’ Day are easy to bring to life: I honor those in our community who have served in the military, as well warrior Netjeru such as Sekhmet and Heru-wer. Christmas, Yule, and “Moomas” mesh into a season of family, giving, and joy. Even the Mysteries of Wesir and Thanksgiving played together well last November.

Lent, to me, is a cultural holiday as much as a religious-Christian one. Because – as much as we seek to be a secularist nation – I do live in a Christian culture, especially as many of my close friends are varying shades of Christianity. Although this is self-imposed, I join them on what I consider a journey of discipline. Meat and I are so closely attached that I consider it something “essential” to my nature. For me, this is my chance to rise above something that I know does not have the importance I place on it. I get the feeling that on April 8th, I’ll appreciate meat a lot more than I do now.

Please comment if you wish to join me – ashes and sackcloth are not required.

B is for Books!

20 Feb

Oh come now, a nerd in love with writing and reading and speaking and any other expressions of languages? Come, you must have expected such.

I love books. A lot. Too much, maybe. But books are how I got here!

Would I have ever became a witch without Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner? Would I have even sought after the Craft without Marked, in which slutty vampyre women follow a religion that is, essentially, Wicca? And what about The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, the Nisut (Ankh, Udja, Seneb!) Hekatawy’s The Ancient Egyptian Prayerbook, or Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt? And what about the second source of Unitarian-Universalism: “Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love,” which I find perfectly exemplified in Harry Potter?

I’ve maintained for a long time that truths can be found anywhere and I think books are the perfect place to find them. Varieties of fiction centered on the gods brought me to my path. Non-fiction helped me focus them, but I find things true to my life more frequently in John Green novels than in The New York Times. If your life philosophy can be explained in a 700 page biography, that’s awesome; but I’m more interested in the person who sees their lifestyle exemplified in Aunt Peg from Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes.

 

What about you? What works of literature have shaped your life? Which ones express your views better than you ever could?

B is for Bast(-Mut?)

20 Feb

When I was a kid – we’re talking seven or eight years old here – I got really into a computer game called Age of Mythology. You probably know about Age of Empires – this game was a spin-off of it and it remains one of my favorite Real-Time Strategy games to this day. Instead of focusing on European imperialism, it focused on what I (jokingly) call the “Big Three” of paganism: the Norse, the Greeks, and (you guessed it!) the Egyptians.

I’ve always had a fondness for cats. We don’t know where it came from. I was cuddly with the bulldog and romped about on all fours beside him, joining him to drink from water puddles. The cat was vicious, and, even though I just wanted to pet her, would often attack him when I got too close. We moved away from this house of a Dog and a Cat to live with my aunt, who at the time had two huge mutts, and no cats. All things considered, I should have been a dog person, but I paraded around school on all fours with my friends and (with the brief exception of a point when I was a Wolf) declared myself a cat.

You can imagine my excitement when I saw Bast in Age of Mythology, then.

I don’t remember her looking so warriorly! But it all makes sense now.

Part-human, part-cat, all AWESOME! I scampered about with Her on my mind nearly as much as Jesus Christ, and prayed to Her at least half as often.Even then, I was developing in my head my own theology – one in which God takes multiple forms so that everyone can experience its love. That. Sounds. Familiar.

So, even when I felt desperately alienated by my religion-at-the-time, I had Bast. She loved me and kept me whole and never failed to offer me advice. Naturally, when I decided to take up Wicca, I chose Her to be my matron. And even when Wicca  didn’t work out for me, She stayed at the forefront of my thoughts and prayers. It was researching Her that lead me to the House, a trait that she and Yinepu (or, in the Greek, Anubis) apparently tend to share. My devotion to Her lead to my first big issue within the House when I became a beginner.

Beginners are asked to contemplate God as a whole (Netjer) rather than its individual names. I clung to Her, I loved Her, I didn’t want to let Her go, but She convinced me to try this. She also reminded me of something She had been telling me for a while – that I wasn’t a child anymore and that when She came back, things were going to be a LOT more serious.

Cue Bast-Mut? Possibly. I don’t really know. It’s a new development (as in, five days ago New). I had a Fedw reading done by Tuwer, in the name of her Mom, Bast-Mut. I could have asked Wasi to read for Aset, but somehow, asking Bast-Mut felt fight. And now I feel like I ought to be spending time with Her in this new form, this Bast who is Warrior but also Queen, this new twist and understanding on a goddess I thought I had mapped out. I don’t really know Mut at all, let alone Her combined with Bast to create a SHINY NEW THING. If any Bast-Mutlings happen to see this post and want to leave a comment about Her, please do. In the mean time, I’m starting a new adventure appreciating the coming together of old and new, and learning how to make better choices.

Senebty!

A is for Ancestors

20 Feb

Today I tweeted at one of my Akhu. I then proceeded to tweet about how the ancient Kemetics probably never expected that change in religious technology. And then Scott asked a Good Question: “I thought that Akhu were the spirits of the ANCESTRAL dead? Am I wrong?”

The answer is simple: Yes, but my tweet was aimed at an Akh who is not only younger than me, but not even related to me! The confusion makes sense, so I’m going to try and clear it up.
I define ancestor as “one who has gone before.” So, in terms of writing, John Green’s ancestors might include Fitzgerald and Salinger. In terms of religion, my ancestors are those old Egyptian polytheists of both the ritualistic and peasant variety. And, in terms of being among the Blessed Dead, they include Esther, Lou Ann, and my partner’s grandfathers – despite not being related to them, or having physically met the latter two.

I was always very Kemetic, but when I happened upon the Kemetic Orthodox forums, it was in a eclectic, Wiccan manner. I was young and shy, but curious. I didn’t post, only watched. Ancestor veneration – one of KO’s five central practices – was unusual to me, but I had never been scarred by death. Knowing this, it might not surprise you that my first post on our forums was to ask a question a on September 24th, 2010: a month after the day Esther went into the ICU for the last time.

“Forgive me for dragging life to an old thread, but I was wondering: aside from unknown Akhu, I have no blood relatives I have lost. I am estranged and secret to one side of my family, and both sides would likely oppose me trying to communicate with them, because of their religion.

However, a month ago tomorrow, a very dear friend of mine passed away. She made a strong impact on my heart and life. Would she be someone I could consider Akhu?”

The answer was a universal “yes,” along with messages to remember that people change after they die, and not to discount them (however, I’ve been fairly awful at trying to learn more about those unknown ancestors).

 

You may be saying: “that’s great, Avs, you talk to dead people. What’s the point?” The point? THE POINT?! What isn’t the point? Esther was my friend. Plain and simple. Lou-Ann was a wonderful grandmother. Why wouldn’t I want to continue to grow those relationships, despite the major differences? (And let’s be fair… talking via twitter to Esther and talking via thoughts to Esther are both really weird to non-Internetians.) Further, if I’m worried about Hannah, then who should I ask to help her – a god she doesn’t believe in or an Akh who she knows and love? If I have a problem with my online friends, should I talk to a spirit who was on this earth generations ago, or one who I know and love because of this online community? It’s a lot more practical. Even someone who doesn’t believe in spirits can see the sense in that.

But there is something a lot  more important to this. It helped me to cope. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know I was not prepared for Esther’s death. Having slowly gone from functioning as an agnostic, to a Wiccan, and now a Remetj, I was becoming more in tune with the idea of something more. I went from being afraid of the idea of spirits to loving the Blessed Dead. Had I not undergone that spiritual change before she passed away, I don’t know how I would have been able to handle losing her. As it was, it was rough. But being able to go to shrine at the end of the day and light and candle for her and all my ancestors made things better. It allowed me to remember her in peace and work through my grief with love.

She’s my most important Akh today, and she will always be valued by me – family or not.

 

“Oh, you who are high in the stars, you shall never die!”

A is for Audio

20 Feb

The other day, I was talking to a friend of mine about hir RPD and gods, and life in general. After awhile, things turned around, and suddenly, we were talking about me and my relationship with the Netjeru.

And frankly, I don’t really talk about those mechanics a lot. Because, even for us religious folks, it’s weird (all you non-theists probably already think we’re all crazy and that’s OKAY because um, we kind of are =D ). Most of the Kemetics I talk to “see” their gods – usually in dreams or meditation. The friend I was talking to is a synesthete*, so hir visuals associated with the gods tend to be through colors. All of this is really cool and I wish it described my encounters with the Netjeru – but it doesn’t. I hear Them.

I’m not saying I have voices in my head telling me what to do and to change the world with Their message or whatever. Yes, I’ve seen psychiatrists, but I’ve never talked to them about this, because this is religious. Because I simply can’t visualize Them, They talk to me, and I to Them. And frankly, it’s a good thing that no one is coming to me expecting me to be an Oracle or a Religious Leader because very rarely do the gods let me recall the words they used. The message is what is important, and They remind me that this is a gift not to be used for understanding the universe, not for attention.

What amused me is that when I opened up to Emky, we both expressed jealousy at the other’s way of connecting to Netjer. Sure, we’d all love to hear the gods, but when Ra chastises you… it’s not fun to hear it in words. I’d rather it had been in feelings. And as much as I’d be enthralled by being a synesthete, social stigmas might keep me to hide that too.

This is me coming out about that part of my religious life. And if you all are as wonderfully accepting as you usually are, I won’t be surprised at all.

 

*Nerdfighterian readers who recognize this term and forgot what it means, allow me to remind you of Tom Milsom’s “Porphyrophobia” and “Indigo.”

The Red Lord

18 Feb

I don’t even know how it happened.

I am He Before Whom the Sky Shakes, the howling of the desert wind. The force of my anger moves mountains of sand, carves a new landscape, and rebuilds the world. I bring the storm to your people, the torrents that knock you to your knees, drowning you in a sea that is only moments old. I split the sky with lightning, strike fire to your hearts.

I am the Lord of the Red Land, the desert, the place of death. My domain is that fiery place where no man dares to go. Alone under the sun’s seething beams, I hunt through the dunes. I navigate through the desperate places, I fight the poisonous ones, and I live.

I am Great of Strength, I alone stop the Evil One. I stand at the head of the sun-boat. With my spear, I fight the One who Would Destroy All. It is my destiny, for I am the god who stands apart. I save the great king with my mighty arm, and when the Serpent is slain, I cast the fragments of his body into the fires of the sun.

I am Set, once king of this land, and I live to fight again.


This piece is to be published in The Charles Viewer, the literary magazine at Fisher College and The Bennu: Volume II, the literary magazine of the House of Netjer.