F is for Four Libations before Ritual

20 Mar

I offer cool water to my Akhu.

Our ancestors – known and unknown, family in blood and in spirit. They came first. They came before us, they paid with their lives to make us who we are. And so we honor them first.

I offer cool water to Wepwawet.

The Opener of Ways, the lord of the crossroads, the first scout. He stands on the king’s banners, leading the army on. We invoke Him second, and ask for His aid to facilitate communication with those in the Unseen World.

I offer cool water to my Sebau.

Our teachers – and not just the ones from school. Those living people who have taught us major life lessons, who helped shape us into better people are our Sebau (meaning “those who give instruction”). They are, perhaps, leaders in our spiritual lives as well – priests, god spouses, and lay people who help us understand the mysteries of our gods. We must remember what we’ve learned from them as we live our lives – and that includes our ritual work.

I offer cool water to Ma’at.

The goddess embodying the nature of the universe – of balance, of justice, of truth. Ma’at comes last, because She is first. We seek to live up to Her ideals, we seek to bring ma’at into the world with our actions. She is grounding, a centering moment as we leave the prescribed words of our rites behind to our person practice and prayer.

 

I’ve previously discussed that I want to begin an esbat practice, a phrase which here means a weekly practice honoring the phases of the moon. This is separate from my senut rite, and not unrelated from our Kemetic Orthodox duas at Pesdjentiu (the New Moon) and Tepy-Semdet (the Full Moon). And so the structure of ritual that we have as Kemetic Orthodox now begins to inform my fledgling constructions for lunar ritual.

Calling Quarters is traditionally a matter of the Four Directions or the Four Elements that comes before an esbat. I don’t have a strong connection to the elements, nor do I particularly associate them with the moon. I have no connection at all to the points of the compass (except in the context of sunrise and sunset), if anything, my directions are six: behind, ahead, above, beneath, side-to-side. For a long time, I have thought that things must be done in a certain way – and in some contexts, they should. Senut is senut because of the way the words are patterned, the Our Father is the Our Father for the same reason. Esbats are not a Kemetic Orthodox practice. What I do to mark the journey of the moon is irrelevant to my fellow Remetj and Shemsu. It is not relevant to the Unitarian-Universalist church I attend, and I am not a member of a coven that has a specific ritual for the lunar cycle.

This is Personal Religion: something that exists regardless of if you’re Catholic, Buddhist, Wiccan, or anything in between. It’s a chance to try new things, to create tradition, and honor the world as Oneself.

 

Examine your own faith-life, if you have one. Feel free to share what you do that separates you from others in your spiritual practice below.

One Response to “F is for Four Libations before Ritual”

  1. Nykti August 8, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    Take this for what it’s worth, but with your “elements problem” you might find this post interesting: http://lettersfromgehenna.blogspot.ca/2012/03/e-is-for-elements.html

    Primarily the Ogdoad bit. I think it’s an interesting take on the “four elements” bit within ritual, and something in the future I might try experimenting with.

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