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A Year of Rites: Reflections, Redirections

09 Jan

With 2019 having come to a close, so too has both the Year of Rites project and Making Ma’at project come to a close. I wasn’t sure if there was anything to say about either, but it feels weird to not do a recap of both before moving onto whatever next chapter lay ahead.

Making Ma’at

I will start by saying that I have a hard time not viewing both projects as something of a failure. The Making Ma’at project barely got off the ground, and once we lost the repository that contained what everyone had written, the project basically was dead in the water. I personally think that that is a crying shame, because we really do lack ready-made resources for honoring ma’at, and with ma’at being at the center of our religion, it feels weird that we don’t have more to work with.

When it comes to pinpointing why this project didn’t go very far, I personally blame a bit of myself — in that I didn’t have the energy or time to consistently research new prompts and ideas to get people creating new stuff to add to the project. But on the flip side, I also feel like no one was overly committed to the project if no one else was working to come up with new ideas. Which is honestly the biggest problem with our community, isn’t it.

My hope is that maybe people will still add to the project in their own time, or that what was created will at least serve as something of a resource for those in the future.

Year of Rites

Then there is the cluster that was the Year of Rites. I knew going into the YoR that I was hoping for more than I should. I knew that the odds of people participating in it were slim. I knew that the odds of me being able to complete everything to a level that I would prefer would be slim — especially if my grandfather died along the way. But I have a bad problem with hoping for more than I should, and in the end, I was disappointed by it all. That doesn’t mean there weren’t any useful lessons along the way, however.

First off, I will say that creating 18 rubrics in a year is a horrible idea unless you have a ton of time and mental space to work with. I was really trying to embody traditional verbiage and heka because I feared straying too far from verbatim sources, and so crafting something 100% from scratch didn’t happen very often. As such, I would scour the source materials to try and find sections that made sense for what I was trying to create. Source materials take forever for me to read, and I would often have to read 50 pages before I found a little tidbit that would be useful for whatever rubric I was working on.

When I wasn’t overly stressed, working the rubrics wasn’t all that bad because you get to learn a lot of random information from sifting through source materials. As a byproduct, it’s easier to follow some of the information that is presented in various books and papers. I can also say that reading the source materials also gave me a very good understanding of how sentences should be structured and words selected to make better heka. Only after I started working on these rubrics did I realize that my old rituals had a lot of wiggle room and a lukewarm quality in many of the words chosen.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that each rubric took hours to make, they were hardly commented on, and probably four people used them throughout the year. If I ever did this again, I’d cut the rubric creation down to maybe two versions for an entire year. Anything more than that is unrealistic.

As for the rituals themselves, I managed to complete every ritual up until the end of June when things went on hiatus to take care of grandpa. After that, I completed 3 out of 4 rites per month until I quit doing it all together in October. If we want to count my eating-as-a-ritual for the Mysteries, then I completed all of December’s work as well, though none of the originally-planned rituals were performed.

All in all, I did more than I didn’t, but it still doesn’t feel like I accomplished much. Having my depression completely wipe the desire out of me to do anything really put a bind on the end of the year, and I still don’t know how I feel about that. If I’m also being honest, the lack of feedback and participation on the by and large didn’t motivate me to continue, either. By June I was wrapped in a sort of “no one really cares” state, which is why the write-ups stopped around that time. It’s also why I quit documenting my rites on IG, and it’s why I never bothered to rework the rubrics in September when I found I disliked them vehemently (this also played into why I didn’t want to keep doing the rituals come October — I had to use new rubrics that I hated.)

As my ability and desire to perform these rites degraded across the year, I can say that structured rituals can serve as a good focal point for me if I’m not too stressed or depressed. When I’m not doing good mentally, its very easy to just go through the motions of the ritual and not really be present. If I’m not present, it’s really not doing me much good and I usually end up rushing everything as quickly as possible (which probably doesn’t do the NTRW much good, either.) The final rites that I did during the Mysteries were much better at keeping me present — more so than doing a structured ritual. I think there is something important to that.

So what now?

I realized somewhere around September that I would soon need to start making decisions about my future with performing regular rituals for the NTRW; along with what my future with Kemeticism would actually look like once this year was over. I don’t like performing standard, structured rituals if I’m being completely honest. It’s hard for me to find reason to set aside the time, clear out the space, and sit down to perform these rites. Perhaps if I had the right space, or perhaps if I got more out of the experience, I would feel differently. And while I understand that these rituals are supposed to be for the NTRW, it doesn’t change the fact that unless I find a way to repackage them or get more out of them, I’m not likely to perform them. We’re all human, and as humans, we don’t do well with tasks that we view as pointless or not serving a purpose. And that’s exactly where I ended up with most of my rituals by the time October rolled around.

However, I don’t know that I can, in good conscience (yes), just set rituals aside and not perform them ever at all. Rereading Roberts’ books in 2018 really drove home (for me) that the original religious structure really placed a heavy emphasis on our rituals helping to maintain the regenerative processes of the NTRW. And it’s led me to question if the lack of continuous ritual on our end could have a degradation of things for the NTRW. It brings us back to the age old issue of “if we think this is really real, and if we believe the Egyptians did things for a Reason that they also believed was really real, then why am I casually ignoring doing that?”

Because if the rituals did actually influence the quality of life for our gods, or if the rituals did actually help to keep the Duat regular and functional, then it really begs us to ask what would happen if those rituals stopped. And by extension, why we don’t do more of them.

And I’m really stuck on that.

So far, I do think I want to create something that strikes a balance between traditional ritual work and what I did in December. For me, it makes more sense to find something that fits into what I am capable of right now, and then build towards something that is more refined as I learn more from my experiences. That being said, I’m still not entirely sure what that looks like, or how I want to approach it.

I guess we’ll see what 2020 brings on that front.


For those of you who participated in either project, I would love to hear your feedback or thoughts so that I can incorporate them into any future projects that may occur.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on January 9, 2020 in Kemeticism, Making Ma'at, Year of Rites

 

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12 responses to “A Year of Rites: Reflections, Redirections

  1. qalam-i rumi

    January 9, 2020 at 3:52 pm

    Dear Devo, I am not even Kemetic (being always eclectic and intersectional), but I admire your work. I wish the community had understood it, and please keep posting. Your work is valuable. Sometimes we just need to hear it, whether or not They flow through us.

     
    • DevoTTR

      January 9, 2020 at 7:08 pm

      I appreciate it. I plan on writing still, I just don’t think I’ll be bothering with many (if any) community-driven projects moving forward.

       
      • qalam-i rumi

        January 10, 2020 at 5:02 am

        Thank you for the response on the other thread concerning Osiris. Maybe I do need to go back to Aset and reflect upon her.

        As I said to Shezep, I see all of you working on the project of a true Kemetic theology, rather than be content with mere New Age aesthetics, and that is something deeply valuable, particularly since you do share many of the same values. It is also healthy for me as a former refugee to see such firm stances on racism, since some of my earlier practice was shaped through readings of Krasskova’s books, whom I now would not touch with a hundred foot pole (although, weirdly, I still have a soft spot for Kaldera). Indeed, her own exploitative treatment of Sekhmet and Aset almost turned me away from anything Kemetic as recently as two years ago, although I had my own experiences with Inpw and Sobek. Your blogs allowed me to read and learn instead.

        I have lost a lot of friends, often through their narcissism, but also often through mistakes and even stupidities on both sides of the fence. But unlike you guys, there was usually no underlying project, except in the case of that large internet group which I foolishly decided to lead (in a moment of loneliness and my own vanity) and which used and abandoned me. I hope the community finds a new way to communicate in your case. I will stick around for more readings and not bug you as much as I have recently.

         
      • DevoTTR

        January 13, 2020 at 11:02 am

        I wonder if part of that is due to the reconstructionism? I, for one, have never been placated with having a basic structure that has no real variety or depth to it. Like, I could settle for just doing daily rituals and a handful of holidays and called it a day, but my brain has always preferred to poke at things, question stuff, etc. And so working on ethical systems and truly exploring what living in ma’at means for our modern era has always been a sort of Importance to me, after I got all of the 101 stuff out of the way (that was the first project I was charged with, so).

        The racism thing is still a work in progress, alas. There are still lots of Kemetics, and plenty of Kemetic groups that won’t take hard stances on racism, and even fewer that will actually oust people for being racism — overtly or otherwise. It’s unfortunate, but I personally think it’s not fair to be lukewarm on those things, and I really dislike how many ppl want to sit on the fence and be lukewarm about it. Our most marginalized members are the most at risk, and how could anyone ask them to sit amongst ppl who commit acts of violence against them regularly??? To me, we can’t survive as a religious group if we allow racists to take over our ranks. Hell, we’d basically be Heathenry 2.0 in that situation.

        I’ve spent lots of years trying to get the community into something that its just.. not. But I gave up on that a couple of years ago. Every major project that I’ve worked to spearhead has ultimately lost its traction as teh months drag on. Its just human nature, and unfortunately, there just aren’t enough ppl in our ranks with enough free time or access to resources to really sustain anything long term. I used to really enjoy community work, but I pretty much hate it now. I went from giving everything to the community to basically building a big ol wall around me. It’s probably not healthy, but i got tired of giving to something that rarely gave back.

        Alas, the sacrifices we make for religion, I suppose.

         
  2. qalam-i rumi

    January 9, 2020 at 3:55 pm

    I had a similar complete f*ck up and collapse within the very, very group I had dared to lead. People will freak out if you work at the edges, regardless of what it is. But you must…write on. Document the failures, too. That is γνῶσις,

     
  3. Aubs Tea

    January 11, 2020 at 7:46 am

    I’ve learned that I absolutely hate structured ritual after the last year. Part of that is because I feel stupid for doing it (idk why) but most of it is because it seems to take more time and energy to get ready for it even if I’m reusing someone else’s rubric. So if nothing else it solidified how much I hate that formality.

     
    • DevoTTR

      January 13, 2020 at 10:55 am

      For whatever reason, I don’t know if its the formality that gets to me, or if its more that I’m trying to do Too Much at once, and therefore never really settle into the meat/vibe/heart of the ritual itself. Like I was whinging to Setken, I kinda feel like it’s screwed me over not having several ppl to help with the aspects of the ritual. I hate going btwn reading and ritual acts. I can’t do both at the same time, and that’s not getting into ritual prep — cleaning the shrine, prepping offerings, etc. I suspect if I could concentrate on one thing and noe thing only, I’d do well. I love performing ritual actions (have done it over there), and it really gets me into a place. But, uh, doesn’t work so hot when i’m a solo person, and I just. can NOT do the “record yourself and play it back” thing. After doing videography of myself, listening to myself would be torture XDDD

      But yeah, I never got into a very good headspace with the rituals last year. Onve the stressed kicked in, it REALLY didn’t happen. I feel like I connected more doign art for the NTRW than I ever did doing rituals. The real question, for me at least, becomes “does doing art and doing wtf-ever that isn’t rituals really give them what they need” in teh same way that Roberts lays out in her books. You know? Cuz, like, we always talk about “do what you can” and “anything is better than nothing” but I’m really not interested in doing the bare minimum. I want to invest my time into what is effective for both ends, and gives everyone the best bang for their buck.

      Too bad the NTRW haven’t really been clear on what that would look like. idk if they ever care >.>;;;

       
  4. Setken

    January 11, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    “It brings us back to the age old issue of “if we think this is really real, and if we believe the Egyptians did things for a Reason that they also believed was really real, then why am I casually ignoring doing that?” ”

    This is a sentiment that has from time to time plagued me as well. Like you, structure all the time, every time, does not always appeal. We are after all children of Set, you and I.

    I do believe that the legacy bequeathed to us from Kemet is sacred and vital, but we live in a different epoch now, and perhaps some aspects of Kemeticism for some of us are to be approached differently. I am not a priest, and don’t think I’d make a good one if I were.

    What has worked for me is that every week I set aside a night (usually a Friday evening but I can be flexible with that if necessary) and this is my Shrine Time / Netjeru honouring moment where I will pray, honour a particular Netjer, do a senut or magick ritual. Just knowing that this space in my week is there for whatever emerges as necessary along the lines of honouring Netjer fuels my practice, feeds my ka.

    I have got many ideas reading your blog over the years, thanks.

     
    • DevoTTR

      January 13, 2020 at 10:51 am

      I think I always get worried that I’ll be pushing away valid ideas and structures because of my more “setian nature” as it were. I’ve seen lots of people use their ties to Set to do all sorts of crappy things over the years, and I am always trying not to be Like That XD That being said, I feel like there has to be a balance somewhere between structure and something more fluid. I know for myself, one of the biggest hurdles has been that the rituals of AE involved a team of people, and I am but one person. If I had others to read while I focused on ritual actions, or if I could read and not have to constantly be trying to hold a book or read words while doing actions.. or if I had someone to help prep and bring offerings, etc? I feel like it would be a bit easier. As it is, for me at least, I think there are too many missing components and so I don’t get into the right headspace very readily, especially when stressed. idk if that’s a cop out or a valid “thing”, but there it is all the same.

      I attempted to do what you’ve suggested in the past… Wpwt asked me to try and take 15 minutes or so every Friday to just sit and be present in front of his icon, and I flaked consistently time and time again. I could never develop the discipline to force myself to show up. Ofc, things have changed, and so maybe that would change, too. But I suspect the act of dragging stuff back into a room I barely use to try and convince myself to do… whatever would probably not work for me. It’s why I used to have my shrine on my desk, because if its in a place that I don’t frequent readily and easily, well. I shirk it off. That’s not to say that your idea isn’t a good one– it is. I just… have no clue if it’ll work for me or not because I’m really bad with rituals.

      Like. really bad XDDD I can see through damn near anything else, but rituals are just. Ugh. Always ugh XD

      I feel like I have lived most of my kemeticism in my head, where I sit down and reach out to the NTRW and find them where they are, but I feel like I realyl want to find a way to drag them out here, to where I am. To not necessarily focus on feeling them, but to focus on being here in the physical. I don’t know why the shift has occurred, nor do I know what that would mean for any NTRW tied to me, but. Because of that, I still feel like my best bet is to find a way to overlap kemetic meaning/metaphor/symbolism into something I already do (sorta like how the eating was in December,) but then I hit that “its not enough” and I get stuck. I’ve debated overlapping ritual with sowing seeds and doing my gardening work (and I probably will), but that is still in development as I consider how much I should fold in traditional AE seasons and agricultural holidays vs. what I deal with in the here and now, regardless of what AE was like????

      Is it clear I’m confused? XDDD

      Also, I’m glad you’ve gotten ideas. Sometimes I really can’t tell if anyone’s getting anything out of this place anymore, me included XDD

       
  5. Swift

    January 13, 2020 at 8:13 pm

    hi devo, ive never commented before or really participated in much community work, but ive been reading your articles for years and years and i just keep coming back to them despite usually being too shy to interact and not feeling like i ever had anything to add to the conversation, and i regret that. i just wanted to say i respect and appreciate the work you do and youve been a huge help to my path, so thank you for being here. 💜

     
    • DevoTTR

      January 19, 2020 at 3:19 pm

      It’s like one of those “long time listener, first time caller” moments XD I understand how hard it is to not know what to say, I often struggle with that, too. I still appreciate you taking the time to let me know you read my stuff, and that you get something out of it! I hope that my posts continue to help you in the future ❤

       

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