Tag Archives: Pagan/Polytheist community

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.

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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 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