Tag Archives: Personal Religion

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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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.