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Book Review: Reflections of Osiris


I’ve just finished reading Reflections of Osiris: Lives from Ancient Egypt by John Ray. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book originally. I thought it could be dull or completely unhelpful to hear stories of people who had lived in AE. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the book. Ray writes a lot like Barbara Mertz and that makes the book more enjoyable for me- as the text isn’t so academic and dry.

The book opens with a general intro discussing how the book is to be laid out, chronology, names and all that. And by this point, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The book covers people throughout various periods of history in Egypt including:

  • Imhotep
  • Hekanakhte
  • Hapshepsut
  • Horemheb
  • Khaemwise
  • Petiese
  • Nectanebo II
  • Hor of Sebennytos and his friends (all in the Serapeum)

Now most of these stories I had already heard. We all know about Imhotep, the angry mummy who wants his woman back awesome guy who helped build the pyramids. And you can’t read anything without hearing about the ‘female king’ Hapshepsut. And I had even heard of Hekanakhte through Mertz and Petiese from Sauneron. And the people at the Serapeum are very well known (this relates to two twins who were slighted by their mother. In order to save themselves from starvation, they become part of the cult of Apis at the Serapeum).

However, despite knowing most of these stories and people- this book really does cast them in a different light. Most times, the history around these people is presented in a very cut and dry method. So and so did this, this, that, and that. And that’s it. However, Ray does a great job at making the stories more engaging, and bringing the characters to life. He also discusses these people in a more indirect way. He doesn’t just talk about the people- he discusses what is going on at the time in Egypt. He shows how the political events of the era could influence the people we are reading about. He puts the people in their time and place- and paints a much broader picture than most historians. And for me, these stories seemed more real; they had more depth to them. And in some ways, I understood a bit more about how things can be effected by the surrounding areas.

Here are a few interesting quotes I saw:

“This predecessor was Osiris, a god who can be thought of as the photographic negative of the sun god: a being who had ruled on earth, been put to death by the machinations of evil and disruptive forces, and who passed into a new life as the light below the earth, ruler and judge of the dead who are in the Underworld”

“On his death, the kind was known officially as Osiris the nesu, followed by the throne-name (given at coronation). The second name, the one written with the bee-hieroglyph (given at birth), ceases to exist. On earth, the king had a dual nature, corresponding to the emanation of the divine which was present within his temporal, human, dimension. The latter would grow old, infirm, and die. The former was immortal. Pharaoh was, literally, a god-king.”

“Amun, in upwardly mobile style, got rid of his first wife, a goddess named Wosret, who was the theological equivalent of the girl next door. Instead, he contracted an alliance with one of the most distinguished ladies in the land, the goddess Mut, the embodiment of motherhood. Like her husband, this goddess was somewhat bland in essence, and this made the pair ideal for usurping the roles of more defined, and therefore more limited, rivals. A less cynical school of thought holds that there was no divorce, and that Wosret and Mut are the same goddess going under different names, but if so, we are still dealing with an attempt to upgrade the original product.”

As you can tell by the quotes above, the writing style is approachable and easy to read. And in many cases, you feel like the author is being straight with you. He doesn’t have an agenda to push, or any theories he’s trying to prove. He’s just telling you how it is. I particularly liked the mention at the end of Nectanebo’s chapter- where he relays that the reason we don’t have the end of the story is because the young boy who was translating the story got bored, and decided to draw some weird doodle face instead.

If I had to give any critique to the book, it would be that I wanted to hear more about Osiris. I understand why the author chose the name that he did. And I know the book is more about the people than the god- but there was a chapter at the end about Asar, and it was severely lacking. I would really really really like to find a book that actually goes into the deity himself. The other thing that might be an issue for some is that the stories/people covered in this book are pretty well known. I have no clue if we have records of people who are more obscure- but it would be cool to see stories that are less well known.

However, I feel that the book is worth reading, and it offers a slightly different perspective than most. The book is more useful for historical references and ideas than for religious ones, but I still think there is interesting information in it.

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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Kemetic Book Reviews, Kemeticism

 

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Unveiling

The month finally came to an end. After so many nights keeping O’s statue hidden, I was finally able to unveil him. To bring him out of hiding and back into the light. Words can’t express how happy I am to have him uncovered again. To be able to look at him and not see him all wrapped up in his blue cloth. And his statue feels different, too. When I place my hands on both statues, O’s seems to be teaming with energy. It’s pretty crazy. So who knows, maybe wrapping the statue rejuvenates it as well. Either way, I’m happy to have him back again.

Coinciding with his unveiling is the hanging of my new shrine cabinet. Many many moons ago, Set sent me out to find a shrine cabinet for him (later to become ‘them’). He wanted something that was simple, but made of real wood. He was absolutely stubborn about the wood. No veneer for him! The more I sat with him, the more an image appeared in my mind as to what he wanted, and I slowly set out to find something that fit the bill. It only took me 6 months, but I finally found something that suited what I needed. The case is made of teak wood and is probably a foot tall. I love how simple it is. I also like the smoothness of the wood.

Originally, the box was intended to be a jewelry box. There were hooks hanging on the inside for necklaces. There were boxes hanging on the inside of the doors that you could put your trinkets in. I didn’t need either of these, so we set out to strip/gut the insides. From there, we treated the wood. Giving it nourishment to help protect the wood and bring out it’s nature colors/beauty. Afterwards, I left the box to sit while I waited for the Mysteries to end. I treated it with incense and left it at that. Now that O has been let out of his wrappings, I feel comfortable using the box.

I’m slowly starting to rebuild my practice. I’ve started off simply. Right now I’m only giving the ka embrace, swapping out beverages every morning and changing up their offerings. I figure that as I move further along, I’ll start fleshing out my rituals. But for now, I feel it’s best to start simply. The shrine still isn’t complete. I’ll update as I add more things to it.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2011 in Kemeticism

 

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Book Review: Abydos

Today I will be reviewing the book “Abydos: Egypt’s First Pharaohs and the Cult of Osiris” written by David O’Connor which can be found here.

If you have any interest in Abydos or early Egyptian tombs/structures, this would be a good book for you. The information is well written and seems to be pretty bias free. The author is very good at stating what we know, what we don’t know, and his thoughts on what might have happened. He doesn’t present his theories as truths- which is something a lot of authors have a problem with. For this reason alone, I would recommend this book. However, there is a lot of useful information in general. I learned quite a bit about Abydos- it’s structures, it’s history. The only thing I would have liked to have learned more about is Osiris- his cult and how his cult interacted with Khentiamentiu. However, there is still a fair amount of information regarding Osiris’ cult and his temple (I just want to know MOAR).

He goes in depth about the history of Abydos- from dynasty 0 all the way to the Late Period. He discusses various building projects there, talks about the layout and designs of many of the temples, the anomalies of some of the structures and what we can learn from them. Considering that Abydos is usually only mentioned as being “Osiris’ city” or the place where Seti built that big temple with the kings list- it’s nice to see a more in depth approach. Of course, as O’Connor mentions in his book- you find some answers, only to come up with more questions. I, too, have more questions for having read this book, but I have more answers too.

A particular quote that I liked:

¬†The vast cemetery field comprising the Middle and North cemeteries and Umm el Qa’ab was personified as Hapetnebes, “Shoe who hides her lord”, a term peculiar to Abydos. The endless, open desert plain of Abydos was imagined to be a goddess, generated by & embodied in the landscape itself. “She who hides her lord” was complex in meaning. At one level, this goddess as landscape literally hid and thus protected Osiris himself- buried at Umm el Qa’ab – as well as his countless followers, eash one also an Osiris entombed in the Abydene cemeteries. But Hapetnebes was also a more positive force in that Osiris, buried within her, experienced revitalization or rebirth every year. In this perspective, “She who hides her lord’ is virtually lanscape conceited of as a mother goddess, in whose womb lies the potential for and actualization of life. She thus relates to the subtle interplay of meaning btwn desert and floodplain in the prototypical Egyptian landscape. The desert, seemingly dead, generates life for Osiris and deceased Egyptians; and thus relates to those more obvious manifestations of vitatlity and reproduction, the inundation and consequent vegetation, both seen as manifestations of Osiris’ capacity to regenerate.

He also discussed a bit about what we modernly call the Mysteries of Osiris. As I mentioned in on of my last posts, it was common for the Mysteries to involve a procession that started at Osiris’ temple and worked towards Umm el Qa’ab- what was believed to be Osiris’ tomb. During the procession, agents of Set would try to stop these people by attacking them. Of course, Osiris’ “team” would win, and they’d make their way to the tomb where rituals were more than likely done. This was also an interesting tidbit to learn.

I think for me, besides the two nuggets above, the biggest help this book served for me was to learn about early dynastic pharaohs. Most authors completely skip over early and pre-dynastic Egypt. More or less saying that they were there, stopping to look at Menes, Scorpion King, Narmer Pallete… and then moving on. If you’re lucky, you might see “Naqada” listed. However, O’Connor does go pretty deep into early dynastic goings on in Abydos (at least in regards to the structures there). So I feel like I’ve had a huge history gap somewhat filled. I know that this comes with the territory- Abydos housing tombs for early kings and all, but it was still nice.

Overall, I would recommend this book. It’s well written. Has good info. And if you’re into Osiris or Abydos in general- it helps to give a more complete picture of both. The author is respectful of his subject matter, and I think he approaches the topics that he discusses really really well. So go read it!

See this review on Pagan Book Review!

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Kemetic Book Reviews, Kemeticism

 

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Building a Mystery

The Mysteries of Asar started this past week and that got me thinking about the nature of the Mysteries and how I was going to attempt to celebrate them this year.

Originally, I wasn’t going to do anything for them, but on Thursday night, I got a huge drive to suddenly set up my… shrine… area? the way that I used to. It became such a strong feeling that I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Since it’s not the traditional format for setting up the shrine, I thought I’d share it here- just in case anyone else wanted to try it themselves.

This idea isn’t originally mine. I got it from my SO, and I have no clue where he got the idea from. When I learned about how he goes about this, I knew nothing about Kemeticism, the Egyptian calendar or it’s holidays. But it felt right at the time, and the more I’ve learned over the years, the more I have felt that it feels right. So more and more, it’s what I do.

When we originally did this- we did it on the last New Moon in February (or if it happened on say, March 1- we’d do it then). We would take up O’s statue and wrap him in a particular blue cloth that we have. We’ve used it on our altar to represent water in the past. And generally speaking, it is O’s cloth. No two ways about it. The night of the New moon, we take this cloth and we wrap O in it. Covering all of his icon up. We then set it on the shrine, leave an offering, spend a few minutes, and leave him there. And he stays there for a month. The next Full moon, we unwrap him, give him a big offering feast, and celebrate. Then things return to normal.

Over the years, I’ve found that little nuances in this ritual just make sense to me. February is the time right before Spring starts. It’s right before things really start to get fertile (in most of the US, anyways). Unlike here in the late Fall- it will take months for things to start to grow. So for us, Feb fit the bill. The New Moon is when the moon is hidden. This is when O disappears from sight. And he stays hidden for quite some time. In some ways, unwrapping him at the Full moon makes sense- but I can understand the full month as well. The cloth also succeeds in hiding him. The blue could easily be water. His drowning. So for me, it makes sense.

So that is what I have done for this year. The other night, as I wrapped him up, tears overcame me- for whatever reason. I let them flow, unsure as to their origin. I thanked him for his sacrifice. And I told myself he would be back soon. For now, Set has been moved away from his statue, and in the future, O will be kept inside my box while Set takes a trip outside of the box. I think in the future, I won’t open that shrine case for the entire month. Leaving the offerings outside, instead. It will be interesting to see what a formal shrine will do to this ritual next year.

That is my current plan. O is currently wrapped up and I look forward to unveiling him in a few weeks time. I will be sure to leave him a nice large offering at that point, to celebrate his return.

 

If you want a more accurate representation of what happened at the Mysteries. According to my Abydos book, there was often a parade/pilgrimage from Abydos proper to Umm el’Qaab. This was the supposed location of O’s tomb (though it’s likely the tomb of a first dynasty pharaoh). During this procession, there would be agents of Set hiding along the path- trying to ‘stop’ the followers of O from getting to the tomb. I guess they’d fight these people off and work their way to the tomb where they’d perform some type of rite, which isn’t very clear. It’s interesting, though. Everyone want to go pretend beat eachother up in the name of Order overcoming Chaos? XD

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2011 in Kemeticism

 

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Thoughts on the Other Side

There is discussion on the TC forums about O right now. One of the more prominent followers of O on that site is going to be writing a detailed thread based off of her thoughts on him and his story. Thinking about this possibility has made me think of two things.

1. I should get my thoughts in order about O before this happens so that I might be better equipped to compare notes and learn from it.
2. I have never really written down my thoughts and/or experiences with him.

So here I am. It has only been a few months since I brought O more prominently into my life. And I must admit that his arrival (re-emergence is more accurate) has coincided with my life getting extremely busy. Because of this, I haven’t had the proper time to dedicate to him. I have done no formal rituals in his name. I have hardly sat down with him in shrine. However, I feel like somehow in the back of my mind- he’s there. And I’m understanding him a bit more. One of those subconscious things (which is why I don’t freak out about the lack of formal workings… for now).

One of the best ways I can describe O (which this is just something me and my s.o. have gotten into the habit of calling him- O, short of Osiris. Though I know his more accurate names, for some reason O sticks) is that he feels like an old friend. Like the comfy shirt you put on to relax in. He’s just comfortable. I don’t feel weird around him. I feel like I can bring anything to his attention and not have any negative reactions. I think that perhaps this stems from wisdom. Kinda like old people- you get to that age and nothing phases you anymore. And nothing really seems to phase him. Now, that’s not to say that he is old, but he’s mellow and seems to react to situations with a level and calm head. He’s the complete opposite of his brother in many ways. Perhaps this is why O is in control of my softer more yin side. The part I struggle with (acceptance of good stuff). Because he is so calm, and because I don’t fear bringing things to him- it creates a nice safe environment with which to work in.

However, within this safety is an area that I am distinctly uncomfortable with.

Last night, as I contemplated this post and wtf I would write, I thought about the differences btwn what I know about Set’s side of the epic story and what I know/feel about O’s side of it all. I feel like I’ve seen Set’s side. I went down that dark rabbit hole and tried my best to understand the varying depths of reason and emotion that lay in the act that he did. After it was all said and done, I think I got it. It was loud, it was crazy, it was dark (and red) and it was just.. chaotic for lack of a better word. It made it almost impossible to think in that space. However, when I began to think about O’s side… I became so incredibly upset with the idea that I had to force myself to *not* think about it (because I always seem to think about this kind of thing right before bed x.x;). The whole experience left me with the feeling/color of murky water. Browns and teals.. water that was thick with some kind of oil… heavy with something. And the thought of having my life cut short while in my prime (much like we do with any kind of food- that never ending cycle that it is) just really bothered me. I understand the concept of sacrifice, sure. And if put in a situation where I needed to give myself up for someone or something bigger than me, I think I could do it. But still, the ache that formed from the line of thinking… hurts. Much like everything else that I need to connect with- it hurts.

And I’m not really sure what to do with that, but there it is.

The other thing I have noted with O is that he is subtle. Many use distant (which I don’t know that I completely get with him), but I think subtle is a better word. He doesn’t have to go all out to make something happen. In fact, it doesn’t even seem to matter if you understand that he made that something happen or not. So long as you get the message in the end. Or maybe that’s just me. Or.. something. And although I have mentioned above that he is comfortable, within him exists the regal King as well. And I have seen glimpses of it. The multiple facets that do exist. It’s just, for me, it seems the calm more friendly version of him is what is prominent right now. Probably because regal Kingness wouldn’t help me much in this case.

So yes, in short O is calm and comfortable. Level headed and approachable (while still being King). But despite this, his river runs deep and there is shit I have yet to even approach at this point. Much less do I want to.

Damn. I never feared anything Set had to show me.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Kemeticism

 

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Nurturing Duality

This will be a bit of a crossover post. I’ll be talking about both Kemetic and FK stuff together, as they intertwine in this case.

 

So last week I realized that Asar wanted my attention. And that he really had perhaps been around all these years for *me*. Not for my s.o.- but for me. And suddenly, like a ton of bricks, I wanted to include him in everything. The feeling reminded me of when Set first came around. I found myself contemplating him, what he wanted from me, and seeing his marks throughout my life. I also started saying things like “I don’t know if he’ll be around for a while, or forever” while deep down knowing that I know the answer, and that I’m kidding myself to think otherwise.

Because of his appearance, I’ve been focusing on my other, more ignored half. The yin side. The side that wants to belong, wants to be open, and wants to be who I am without being judged. The side that I really don’t connect with at all. And in many ways, this is a bad time of the year to work on this. This part of the year is always hard on me. Every time this year I am reminded about how I don’t fit in. About how people don’t care as much as they say they do. This time every year, I take a huge blow to my ego and feelings. Compound that with inner workings, and it’s kind of a recipe for disaster. I’m finding that working on Asar’s stuff is a lot harder for me. Set’s stuff was a challenge- but it was easier some how. Easier to say “Yeah, I am a dick some days. Yeah, I have a pitch black hole inside my heart the size of Russia that sometimes consumes me and my thoughts. Yeah, sometimes I let that part of me hurt myself and others.” etc so on and so forth. It was easier for me to look at his rage, his jealousy, and go- yeah, I see that in my too. And to come to terms with it. And while letting go of some of my contempt and anger was more of a challenge, it did happen. And overall, it wasn’t entirely painful.

But this. This takes the cake, and I’m only one week into it. It hurts to do this. And it hurts in so many places- I don’t see how I’m ¬†going to come out of this any better. I have lots of holes, scars, and problems. Lots of things that I hide from others. Things that still bleed and hurt to this day. And I really don’t know how I’m going to overcome them, I really don’t. I assume and trust that He knows what He is doing. But at the same time, I wish it just weren’t so damned painful. A quarter of a century of problems that have built up and built up. And while I’ve managed to deal with some of them over the years- there are problems that I question if they will ever go away.

This ties into FK because it’s making FK a real challenge to work on. You’re supposed to build your flame up, be honest with yourself, and make something better out of it. But I’m having a hard time. Working on these walls just makes my self esteem tank. And then I go to look at my FK stuff.. and it tanks too. Everything wants to sink on some levels. And it’s frustrating :\ I know that sometimes you have to go backwards before you move forwards, but damn. It still sucks. This week we are supposed to be figuring out how to let others nurture our flames, or how we can better nurture the flames of others. My problem is allowing others to nurture my flame. And really, I think the walls are the challenge. I put them up. I block you out. I try to resist help, because modesty tells me to do so. I rely on myself because it hurts to rely upon others. And in some cases, I can consciously see that I’m doing that, but it hurts with the walls up- and I’d hate to see the pain with the walls down.

In the end, I’m just going to trust the process. This has been moving forward like it did with Set. I know it’s going on, but it’s not going on in direct conversation with me and the god/s. Things come up in my life, and I work with them in ways that helps me to balance out my internal issues. And I really won’t be able to see my progress until after it’s done, I’m sure. I’m okay with that. I’m okay with going that direction. I have enough trust for that.

Doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt, though.

 

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2011 in FK Journal, Flame Keeping, Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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A Child of Chaos

Most people know me as being a child of chaos- a follower of Set. And even if you don’t know who I worship, or that I even have a religion, if enough time is spent around me- you’ll describe me with the same words and phrases that most of my fellow Kemetics do. Despite my attempts to change people’s perceptions of me, it seems that the same traits always come forward. I’m hard, mean, no nonsense. I am cynical, snarky, and sarcastic. And you can’t forget that many people think I’m a dude (and if they know me in person, I’m treated as a male, not a female).

Even recently, in a discussion with a friend of mine, thoughts about the Kemetic community came up. Kemeticism doesn’t really have a large community. There isn’t a whole lot of selection (it’s pretty much KO or nothing), and many of the different temples seem to hate one another. Basically, our community sucks, and is pretty non-existent. To my friend, it almost seemed odd that a follower of Set would want to be in a community. Let alone run one. I mean, Set is the outsider, the foreigner. He’d rather stick to himself than deal with people right?

I can’t help but wonder- Why?

Why is it that following Set means that I don’t want to fit in? Why is it that because Set is cast out to the deserts that he doesn’t want friends? And why is it, that despite my attempts to show that I’m not a complete ass, that I have softer sides, people only seem to see that one aspect of me?

Why?

I am more than just the ass you see. I do have a need to belong. A need and desire to be a part of the group, and to not question my role or position in that group. To feel that people genuinely want me around. And to be able to be myself in that group. I would also like for people to see that I have other aspects. That I am more than just “that Set follower”. Oh yeah, and I can hurt just like everyone else too. I’m more than just stone. And for the life of me, I can’t understand why it is that the other parts of me get ignored.

When explaining this to my friend, I related to Asar. There is a part of me that is like him. Kind. Quiet. Fertile. Soft. Yet for whatever reason, no one ever sees that. I joke, a have fun, and I try to show people that I can be light hearted, I can be happy and nice. Yet, no one ever sees it.

I have always had a fancy for Asar. And really, he has been around me since this whole thing started. I figured he hung around because of my s.o.- who also happens to have a thing for Asar. However, I’m beginning to wonder if Asar hangs around not because of my s.o.- but because he wants something to do with me. Set told me to make the two halves whole. If Set is the side that everyone sees, could Asar be the side that no one sees? Could acknowledging him help me to equal out the halves? If he is the other half, the way he approaches me could easily be the same as the way my other half is. It’s very intangible, and hard to grasp. It’s there, but it’s not. It’s a feeling that you can’t describe. And in many ways, Asar is the same. He influences me in ways that I barely notice. A little touch here, a little nudge there. Words aren’t needed, but if you’re paying attention you can see that it’s him.

The other piece in this puzzle is Shinto. Set sent me to look into it, to help with the halves. I think part of this is in the Japanese culture. I shared my thoughts on this with my s.o. last night, and he seemed to think it could be a factor.

When I go to Little Tokyo, or I sit in a Japanese restaurant (that is run by Japanese people), or I go to the local Japanese market- I change. Entirely. I didn’t think I changed that much, but after listening to my s.o. last night, apparently it is like night and day. For those of you who don’t know, Japanese culture is very different from us in America. The mannerisms, the way you talk, the way you look at people, hold your hands, hold items- it’s all different. And when you stick me around a bunch of Japanese I try to follow these rules. I thought the change was there, but according to my s.o. the change is like a slap to the face. You just can’t miss it. I told him last night that it’s a case of “When in Rome, do as the Romans”. He said that it was more “Don’t do as the Romans, I AM a Roman”. I guess I almost become one of them in my actions.

I think these little interactions are important. That these little moments are the times when my other half gets to shine through. I love interacting with the Japanese culture (here in Phx, and in LA). I will seek out festivals and locations where I tap into this feeling, into that half of myself. Where I can let this yin side through. And because Shinto is so intertwined with the culture of Japan, perhaps that is how Shinto plays a role in making me whole.

But then there is this whole Asar thing that I need to figure out. And still binding everything back together is important. I feel I’m onto something, but I’m not positive what to do with it. All I know is that while I love working with Set, and I love being a hard ass in his name, I do get tired of constantly fighting these labels people put on me. I’m tired of always being considered hard, and unbreakable. I’m tired of only one side of my nature being acknowledged.

And I wonder if Set feels the same way some days.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2011 in Kemeticism, Rambles, Shintoism

 

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