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Book Review: Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt

Today I’m reviewing Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt by R.T. Rundle Clark. This book was suggested to me by this guy right here, and it doesn’t disappoint. You’ll see that there are tons of quotes in this review because there was just that much stuff in the book. There are lots of small, obscure bits of information you don’t see presented anywhere else, and at the very least, there are lots of topics for you to sit and wrap your brain around- it’s like a gift that keeps on giving!

Some examples of more obscure information would be:

  • Set killing Osiris in the form of a flea.
  • The myth about Osiris asking Ra if he can have Set’s lands and people that he oversees, Ra saying yes, Set’s nosebleed creating agriculture, and then when Osiris puts on Ra’s Atef crown, getting all sorts of head injury (yes, I’m serious).
  • Discussions about Osiris in his inert state- being protected by Nehaher, who eventually turns into apep when he won’t let Osiris go and move forward.

The little tidbits are very interesting, and part of why I like this book so much. I enjoy obscure information, or things that you don’t readily find in every book on ancient Egypt. Especially because it allows you to really contemplate how these lesser known concepts could affect your practice (such as Nehaher being a/pep- it really challenges you to reconsider what you know about a/pep).

I also like that the myths that he does recount within the book have explanations behind them. The author isn’t just telling you the stories and myths- he’s attempting to explain them, draw parallels between them and other aspects of AE culture, and provide context and meaning to them. It’s not something that a lot of authors do.

Despite the name, this book focuses almost solely on Osiris. I think a lot of people would benefit from reading this book for no other reason than  you can see just how many different myths, angles, and changes have occurred in the Osirian mythos. We always hear the clean cut, simplified version of Osiris and Set, about Aset and Nebhet’s search for him.. etc. But when you start to examine all of the variances in the myth that occurred in different nomes or eras- it becomes really apparent that nothing is very clear cut. So for anyone who wants a good primer into learning about Osiris or his mythos- this book is highly beneficial, and I recommend you pick it up.

If Osiris isn’t your cup of tea, this book may not serve you much. I mean, there is other information within the book, but a large portion of it (like.. 2/3s of the book) talks about Osiris.

Here are some interesting quotes I pulled from the book:

“Atum was unhappy in the Primeval Waters because he was, in the words of this text, ‘in a relaxed state, very weary and inert.’ This existence in the waters was painful; Atum was in travail until he could settle his limbs in a definite place. From the emerging deity’s point of view the waters are bad, they represent the conditions of helplessness and chaos which have to be transcended. On the other hand, they can be regarded as ‘pure’ and as ‘the waters of life’ for the soul who wishes to return to their state of negation. Immersion in them means going back to primeval innocence.”

“The pyramid texts have echoes of lost tales about teh gestation of Nut and how she freed herself violently from her mother’s womb. But the essential event connected with Geb and Nut is their separation.”

“The symbolism is based on a legend that originally earth and sky were together in total and sexual union. So, when the sky descends ritually upon the earth, Nut is impregnated by Geb. We are then told why the sky was lifted away from the earth. Shu, Nut’s father ‘so loved her’ that he separated her from her mate Geb and, as the air, held her aloft with his arms. Nut was then able to give birth to the stars and to ‘taken them up’- allow them to sail across her belly, the sky.”

“Osiris is immanent. He is the sufferer with all mortality but at hte same time he is all the power of revival and fertility in the world. He is the power of growth in plants and of reproduction in animals and human beings. He is both dead and the source of all living. Hence to become Osiris is to become on with the cosmic cycles of death and rebirth… In Egypt, Osiris absorbed the nature or attributes of many cyclic or fertility figures such as Anedjety of the Eastern Delta (whose insignia he borrowed), Sokar of Giza, the “Lord of the Westerners” at Abydos and others now forgotten.”

Osiris is nature itself or, to speak more accurately, nature as experienced by the farmers and stock-breeders of the Ancient Near East. During the summer heat the desolate condition of the world can be expressed as if either the spirit of life had departed, or was listless and asleep, or that life itself was dead. Any single metaphor would be insufficient to describe the dire calamity of the world. Similarly, the fate of Seth, the enemy, can be death, bonds or ignominious submissions he cannot be altogether annihilated, for he is a power that can be restrained or canalized, but not absolutely destroyed. Take away the pathos of the Osirian cycle, and the metaphors fall apart so that each can generate its own myth in narrative form. This is what happens in the myth of the contendings of Horus and Seth, int eh saga of the Two Brothers and the other popular tales, which deal with mythical motives as connected stories. They arose on the periphery of Osiris worship, far away from the deep emotions displayed in the genuine cult. Even the simple statement that sorrow is at an end in the Twin Sanctuaries declares that the joy at the salvation of Osiris is universal.

“Hence to become Osiris X is not to be identified with Osiris as he is usually represented, but to share in the god’s salvation and transformation into a ‘soul’. Death and the indignities of embalmment represented, for earthly bodies, the passion of the god. Seth is the death that strikes on down; his confederates are the demons of decay and dissolution. The completion of the rites and the establishment of the ordered ritual at the tomb are the ‘rescuing of the god’. The interim period btwn death and revival was one of great danger. Just as the pieces of Osiris’ body had been put together, and his corpse watched all through the night of his passion by his sisters Isis and Nephthys, so priestesses  personifying them play the role of mourners and protectors of his body from spirit enemies during the funerary rituals. They, in fact, are responsible for the safety of Osiris between his death and the coming of Horus. First they find the gods and then they put his body together and mourn him.”

The waters of the annual inundation came from the thigh of the god (Osiris). This.. is the reason why the thigh of Osiris was kept as a relic in several temples and why modern scholars have been so mystified by references to being ‘born upon the thigh’.

Now to the downsides of the book. I think it needs to be stated that this book was written in the 50’s, so you have to keep an open mind with some of the information he presents. He seems to have an undercurrent of monotheism that I didn’t care for, and he likes to talk about the “Mother Goddess”- as though there is some supreme mother goddess of AE that oversees things. It’s a bit clunky in those regards, but I was able to look past that for the information he presents.

I think my biggest beef with this book is his writing style. Sometimes, he would go on about a topic- and then jump to an entirely different topic without so much as a transition. In some cases, this isn’t such a big deal- but in other cases, it almost feels like he was in the middle of a large point when he decides to switch tracks. This can become confusing or frustrating when you’re trying to piece together larger concepts and ideas. I also don’t entirely understand his names for his chapters. They make no sense to me, nor do they seem to have much correlation to the text within the chapters. Most of the areas where he discusses Osiris, I think the information could have been categorized into something more linear and easier to follow, and that most of those chapters could have been mashed into one large chapter that dealt with nothing more than Osiris’ mythos.

However, if you can move beyond the writing style, the information in the book is totally worth it. I plan on reading this again in the future, so I can soak up more details about Osiris, as there isn’t a whole lot written about him in-depth elsewhere. If you’re looking to learn about O, I totally recommend picking this book up.

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Posted by on December 13, 2012 in Kemetic Book Reviews, Kemeticism

 

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Osirian Mysteries: A Ritual

Long before I came to Kemeticism, when I still identified as a Wiccan, my SO concocted a rite to do for Osiris, which he taught to me. I can’t really say where he got the idea from- neither of us really knew much about Kemeticism or its holidays. But the rite seemed to fit, and the more I’ve learned over the years, the more I see the correlation between it and the Mysteries of Osiris. I had written about my rites briefly last year, but this year I’d like to do a full ‘tutorial’ on the rites I perform every year for O. This is based entirely off of UPG, but I think that this UPG is rather applicable to this holiday. The rite I’ve written out below isn’t exactly the original format- the ritual has grown and changed a little bit over the years that I’ve done it. It’s a growing practice and feel free to modify it to fit your needs as well.

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The first step is to cleanse yourself in whatever format you feel works best. You will then want to cleanse your shrine area and icon as well. This can be as simple as wiping it down with a cloth, or going as all out as using natron, incense, etc.

Then, create mound of sand in center of shrine area. In my case, I placed the sand in a small dish- so that it wouldn’t go everywhere. I use the sand for multiple reasons. One, it purifies the area. It creates a clean space to place the icon on (this was typically done in the Opening of the Mouth rites as well (Eternal Egypt, 292)). For me, the mound of sand recalls Zep Tepi, the first time. It stands for rebirth, change, and growth- which is what the Mysteries is all about.

I then take my icon, and wrap it in its entirety in a specific blue cloth that I have. This cloth is only used for this purpose. I don’t use it for anything else. Originally, the blue represented the water. For me, Osiris is the river, it is his domain (and in some cases, the location of his felling), so the blue made perfect sense. According to Wilkinson, the color blue could “represent the heavens as well as the primeval flood, as will be seen, and in both ways it functioned as a symbol of life and rebirth. …Blue could represent the river Nile and its associated crops, offerings and fertility..” Once again, we have rebirth as the theme.

If you don’t have a blue cloth, I think the next best choices for colors would be green (for the vegetative aspects of the Mysteries), black (for the black fertile silt that allows the crops to grow) or something that is remniscent of the sky or Nut- such as a cloth with stars on it (this is tied to the Imywt fetish and also the practice of painting Nut on the lids of coffins- she is often used as a vehicle for his rebirth).

You will then place icon on the mound of sand.

I then perform a Ka embrace on the statue. You can say whatever you like, or nothing at all. The typical words that accompany the Ka embrace in Eternal Egypt are:

Djehuty has come to you. Awake when you hear his words.
I have come as the envoy of Atum.
My two arms are upon you like those of Heru.
My two hands are upon you like those of Djehuty.
My fingers are upon you like those of Anpu.
Homage be to you, I am a living servant of Osiris/Wesir.

I then present offerings to Osiris. These are to accompany him during his trip to the Duat. Typically, I will offer incense, water and bread. I think that flowers would also be appropriate. Use your discretion, and use something that won’t go horribly bad if left out for quite a while. And, yes, Re-ment is still an option here. You can present these offerings with words, or without.

I then close up my shrine for the duration of my celebration (which I celebrate for a full month- New moon to new moon). If you don’t have doors, I’d recommend draping a cloth of some type over the shrine.

I do this for a couple of reasons. One, this is the time when Osiris is gone. He’s been taken from us, he’s in the river, Aset is searching, Heru and Set are battling it out- it’s a time of chaos and loss. This is the field after the seeds have been planted. You know that the seeds are there- but you can’t see the plants just yet. The whole purpose is to notice a loss. And for me, it doesn’t really sink in as a loss until I can’t see him for such a duration. For my own personal practice, the point is to mourn his loss. You can’t mourn him if you can go see him in shrine (see the icon) every day.  Second, I go a full month for cycle and completion. The moon disappears during the New Moon phase, as Osiris has disappeared from us. And I feel that waiting out the full cycle of the moon helps to bring out the full cycle of rebirth that Osiris goes through.

I then place my Anup and Aset statues on top of my shrine. If I had a representation of Nebhet, I’d place her there, too. These three are heavily laced with the mythology of Osiris. Anup helps to protect and embalm Osiris. He helps Aset and Nebhet find pieces and put him back together. Aset and Nebhet are the primary mourners of Osiris’ loss. So I like to involve them in the process.

I keep the shrine closed for the full month. During this time, I will leave offerings on the outside of the shrine. Offerings could be of any format- words, food, candles, items- whatever. I usually use this time to notice how my practice and life feel different without him being right there. I usually reflect on the nature of death, rebirth and sacrifice.

Once the month is up, I open the shrine, revert the offerings (I typically won’t eat these ones :P), unwrap the statue and set the shrine back up in its normal format. I then lay a big spread out for Osiris and celebrate in his return, his rebirth.

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I know that many people don’t consider Osiris’ mythos to be that of rebirth, but for me it plays a heavy role. I tend to work with Osiris as a vegetative deity. A god of the land, of agriculture. He is the land of Egypt. He is what sustains the people. And every year, the river, land and vegetation of Egypt go through a cycle of death and rebirth. The river recedes, the land dries up, the plants die. And then the waters issue forth in the inundation, the silt is deposited, seeds planted, live is grown, cared for and cut down to feed the people. For me, he is intrinsically linked to all of this, so most of my rites to him involve layers of death and rebirth- as well as sacrifice, as he has to sacrifice himself so that others may live.

Please let me know if any of you try this format of ritual and the type of response you get from it. I think that the Mysteries can have a profound effect on you, as you continually consider what life and death mean to you, and the fact that death must occur in order for life to continue. I’d love to hear anyone’s experiences from any Mysteries rites that participate in this year!

Also, please check out my article about this over on Shrine Beautiful. There are more pictures of my setup there for you to enjoy!

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in Kemeticism

 

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Discernment

aka the “Sometimes a Cigar is just a Cigar” post.

Today I wanted to talk about discernment– that elusive thing that most all of us yearn for. The most popular of questions: “How do I know that I’m actually hearing the gods?” “How do I know that I’m not just listening to myself?” Certainly, these questions are important- for we don’t want to think of all of our actions as merely pleasing some head goblin or mischievous netjeri. Yet, despite these fears, many people don’t seem to question if what they are listening to is actually the gods.

And it’s perfectly understandable as well. When you first get into your practice, everything is new and shiny and overwhelming. There is a lot to take in, a lot to consider- and I think many people get in over their heads when they first arrive on the Pagan/polytheism scene. Even when I first started, I am quite sure I spent a good amount of time listening to myself as opposed to Set. But, there is even more to consider than just the gods- many people don’t consider discernment when they come across omens or symbols in their day to day life, either (which may or may not be ascribed to X deity that you are working with). To quote from Tumblr:

In the spiritual world omens are everywhere and there are no such thing as coincidences. You can use signs around you to guide your life and your workings if you only know how to interpret them.

On some levels, I agree. Life, gods, spirits and guides often give us clues about what they need from us, where we should be going, things we should be doing, etc. I have always felt that if you are trying to live within Ma’at, things will generally work out for you- long term. However, I think it needs to be said that sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar. For example:

Crickets.

That’s right. Crickets. There are tons of them around my house right now. About two months ago, I suddenly had crickets everywhere. In my kitchen. My closet. My living room- all over the place. Screeching all night long. Annoying the crap out of me. Not long ago, I had to travel some distance to a river to do a rite. At the river, the place where I chose to sit down and do my rite I found a small cricket running around. So I ask you- is this some divine symbol? Or could it just be that this is prime season for crickets?

Another example would be birds of prey. Many Kemetic deities have associations with birds of prey. But, I live in the desert. Does that mean Horus is trying to get my attention?

Or how about hearing the gods through the radio? That top 40 song that keeps on popping up? How can you tell if it’s actually the gods, or just that darned popular?

The answer, my friends, is discernment.

Well that’s all fine and dandy- but how does one discern deity from head goblin/netjeri?

That is a difficult question to answer, unfortunately. Citing the above examples, it is a good time for crickets- so it could very easily be that I just happen to have an infestation, or I picked an uncanny area near the river. Or in regards to the hawks, I live in the desert- which is a prime location for them. The fact that I see 1, or even 5 hawks may not even mean that Horus is tailing me- could just be that I live next to a field with lots of mice and food in it. However, I do think it’s possible to sort through events that occur and discern whether you might actually have a message that is trying to be delivered. In short form, here are some methods to help figure out if what you’re seeing/feeling is “legit”:

  • Multiples of said sign
  • Sources from antiquity
  • Divination from a third party source/someone who is trusted
  • Unlikely circumstances

The multiples is a tricky one. The crickets is an example- how many crickets do I need to see before I actually read it as a sign or omen? The songs on the radio could be another example- for a period of time, I had “Poker Face” playing every. single. time. I got in the car. And even on a 5-10 minute drive somewhere, I’d hear it multiple times. It’s like every single station decided they wanted to play it at the same time. After about a month of this, I felt that perhaps Set was trying to tell me something- but it took nearly a month of it occurring before I finally even remotely considered the idea (and to this day, I’m still not entirely sure what he was trying to say- if anything). Another example for multiples would be feathers- feathers are pretty common to find. However, if you find that you are finding feathers in an odd location every day, or multiple times per day- perhaps you should consider if someone is trying to get a hold of you.

Another consideration for multiples is if the request doesn’t leave. I have ignored Set before- or I tried. But the longer I tried, the more obnoxious the requesting got. It got so bad that I couldn’t concentrate, and I became overly cranky (and when I finally did perform his request, I got further confirmation that I ‘did good’, and the annoying noise in my head went away). Normally, if I get an odd request, or I’m not sure if I’m hearing correctly, I will wait and see what happens if I ignore said request. Usually, if the request is ‘legit’, I will keep getting pestered until I listen. Or, I will receive other signs that confirm that I need to do something. It is possible to go to the gods and say “Hey, I think I’m seeing some signs that are telling me you want something. Is it possible for you give me some other signs so that I know it’s you”. Worst they can do is tell you to shove off (usually this doesn’t happen- in my experience).

I list sources from antiquity, because I think it’s very important. One of the first visions I ever received from Aset was her symbol on a loaf of bread. I thought it odd until I discovered that bread was a common offering in Egypt, and that Aset has some special ties to bread (this was when I was literally just starting out- hadn’t even read a book yet). Nothing can feel as validating (in my opinion) as having a vision or request repeated in history. To me, it’s a pretty good sign that you’re likely being tapped by someone if you can track down the request or symbolism to a time in the deity’s past.

Another method of testing requests is to get outside input. Ask people who are unbiased and can give you straight answers. If you are able, ask a group of people to do some divination for you- and see how well the outcomes line up for you. If you ask 3 or 4 different people to look into something for you- and they all say the same thing, it’s quite likely that someone is trying to tell you something.

Unlikely circumstances is another thing to consider. If you see a bird or animal that is entirely foreign to your location- that would be something to pay attention to. Finding a feather that belongs to a bird that lives nowhere near you, for example. A common situation I have is that I will “lose” stones that I own- even though I haven’t touched them. I will sometimes also find stones in my rock box that I never purchased. Another example would be seeing an animal with very odd markings- a black coyote, or a raven with white spots on it.

And above all, I think that any symbol or omen that you are seeing needs to be considered heavily every time it occurs. Because we never know if what appears to be simple and straight forward might actually be complex and mean something entirely different than what it appears on the surface.

But why do I need this? Why would what I am experiencing be “not legit”?

This also comes with many reasons. A lot of times, humans get into the habit of feeding into their own egos (myself included). We often times see what we want to see. Especially in stressful situations- we will look for anything to comfort us or tell us that it’s alright. During my long period of unemployment, I looked for signs everywhere (ironically, this was the same time with the “Poker Face” reference above, as well as Set’s request that I ignored). I would see things and tell myself that this was a sure sign that things were going to get better. I’d even ask my mother to ask her pendulum to confirm things- which ironically didn’t pan out. Turns out my mother was just as biased about me getting a job as I was. It’s very important that we do our best to maintain an unbiased and open view about our circumstances. To give into our own prejudices and leanings cuts us off from growth and from hearing the things that we need to hear in order to move to the next phases in our lives. The best way to be unbiased is to practice discernment to the best of our abilities.

And if all that fails, you can ask Helms his opinion on discernment:

If it makes sense, you’re probably imagining it. “What the hell is THAT supposed to mean?” is probably a sure-fire sign.

Relevant Posts:

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2012 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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Devo Magix: Execrations


Most Kemetics know about execration, or at least, we know of them. Execrations are highly misunderstood within the Kemetic community, and in some ways, they are generally feared. I wanted to clear up some ideas about execrations, and how you can bring them into your practice- whether you’re Kemetic or not.

Execrations Then:

Back in antiquity, execrations were a daily practice in the temples. It’s considered that they might have occurred multiple times daily, even. Execrations were considered integral to keeping the kingdom and all of the Created world safe. Execrations were generally exacted against agents of a/pep and all enemies of the king and/or ma’at.These rituals weren’t optional- they were mandatory. Ma’at, and all of creation, was always at risk to being undone. To quote Meeks:

From the moment of its creation, the world was threatened by the Forces of the uncreated, forces that the mere existence of a world drove back toward its periphery. There was no escaping these forces, even if they were pushed further and further back as the domain of the Created expanded. Because they had not been brought into being by the act of creation, they could not be definitively destroyed. They could only be defeated periodically; their repeated onslaughts made it necessary to wage unending battle to maintain the integrity and equilibrium of creation. (quote taken from Eternal Egypt).

Creation was not something to take for granted. And it’s still not. In our modern world we forget that things aren’t certain or guaranteed. The gods still fight a/pep daily. They still work to maintain order even though the majority of humanity has fallen deaf to the need or the call. Just because our lives feel more secure doesn’t mean that Creation is any more secure than it was before. The Egyptians fully appreciated the precarious nature of Creation. The wrong flood levels, a bad cycle of crops, invaders, plague- any of that could deal massive damage to the nation and its people. Creation needed everyone’s help to survive- and this is where execrations came into play.

Execrations Now:

Execrations almost seem non-existent in the modern Kemetic’s practice. Most Kemetics have a mindset that execrations are bad- that performing an execration will cause negativity to come back upon you (reminiscent of the Threefold Rule that really has no place in Kemetic mindset or practice). This is a crying shame, in my opinion. Execrations have so many uses and potential for creating happier, healthier people. I really think that everyone should consider making some form of execration a part of their regular practice. Most people consider execrations to be nothing more than a ritual against a/pep, but they can be used for so much more than that. Execrations are good for letting go, for moving on, for destroying bad habits, or for getting negative things out of your life. Anything and everything that could eat away at the happiness in your life could be counter acted with an execration.

Don’t like that you’re broke? Execrate anything and everything that is in your way (you could use a ‘foes of Ra’ approach to this). Don’t like that you’re overweight? Execrate your bad eating habits, laziness, or other factors that could be holding you back. Heavy shadow work that you’re trying to work through? Blast that stuff away with a strong execration. Anything and everything can really be enhanced via execration. Execrations are there to demolish things that are blocking your path.

So how do you do an execration?

Traditional execrations can be pretty extravagant. The more complex execration rituals in Eternal Egypt include an ‘ingredients list’ of: water, natron, incense, candle or oil-lamp, a wax figure of a/pep, sheets of papyrus, green ink, copper pan, wood or charcoal, herbs (dragon’s blood, nettle, etc), iron knife or nail, black thread, flint blade, red clay pot, sand and a lid for said pot.

That’s a lot of stuff! But execrations don’t need to be that complicated (and in Reidy’s defense, there are execration rites in Eternal Egypt that require little to no supplies to perform). Most execrations have elements that are similar, despite the technique being different. Here are the basic elements of any execration:

  • Creation and identification of an item with a/pep and the things you wish to execrate (in this post, the item would have been the red pot).
  • Defiling this item via stabbing, spitting, trampling, or other destructive means.
  • Burying, flushing, or disposing of said item.

The steps are pretty simple and straight forward. I have found that a lot of what makes an execration effective is the emotion you put behind it. There is some sort of release in ripping apart a piece of paper, stabbing a figure, smashing a pot, etc. It allows your emotions to be let out in a safe manner that helps you to move forward and eradicates things that hold you back.

While using an ‘old school’ execration rite from antiquity is awesome, sometimes we don’t have the ability or desire to use something from ‘back in the day’. But no worries, you can easier come up with your own rites and methods to execrate the unwanted or unneeded. To create your own execration, you’ll first need to determine what you wish to execrate. You could try to execrate anything and everything in one go, but I recommend taking a few things at a time and doing multiple, smaller execrations. Once you have decided what you might wish to get rid of, you’ll want to determine what item will best work for your means. You could go the traditional method and use red pots or wax figures. You could use fresh paper. You could build a sand castle or use a mug that you can’t stand. You could create a pillow and stuff it with things that you want to destroy- let your creativity and specific situation guide you.

You will then need to imbue that item with whatever you’re trying to get rid of. You can write these items or attributes on the item (in the case of paper or pots), you can state or visualize what you’re wanting to execrate as you create the item (as with the sand castle). You could do both, technically (I tend to). Once you have your item ready, you will take this item and beat the crap out of it. Yell at it, stab it (or draw knifes in it), scribble on it, maim it, stomp on it, spit on it- whatever. Destroy it as much as you can. Put all of your energy into it until you are completely spent.

Then, you will take what is left of your item, and get rid of the remains. A lot of times I flush things down the toilet. However, you can’t do that with, say, pot shards. In those cases, I throw them in a dumpster or bury what is left. If you went the sand castle route that I mentioned before, you might want to smooth out the sand to the point that you can’t tell anything transpired. You more or less want to remove and eradicate any and all remains of the execration.

How often you want to repeat this process (and how complicated you want the process to be) is entirely up to you. Most Kemetics I know only perform one execration per year- at Wep Ronpet. However, in the month and a bit since Wep Ronpet occurred, I have found that I have done 3 or 4 execration rites of some capacity- and I have found that doing them has helped me progress a lot faster in my shadow work lately. Whether you need to perform them daily, monthly, yearly- etc. is going to be dependent upon your particular situation and what you are working on currently. Don’t be afraid to do them regularly, though. Especially if you feel the urge!

I believe execrations deserve to have a more prominent place in modern practice. They have such a variety of uses and purposes, and I would love to see more people give them a shot!

Do you perform execrations? What are your thoughts and experiences with them?

Recommended Reading to Learn More About Execrations:

Relevent Posts:

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2012 in Devo Magix Series, Kemeticism

 

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Flirting With Destruction


aka: Devo’s Guide to Working with Set and Other “Hard-nosed” Netjeru

Mandatory Disclaimer: As with everything, this guide is exactly that- a guide. Gods (especially trickster and chaos gods) can change rules at the drop of a hat, and my interactions with Set might not match your interactions with Set. This guide contains my own personal thoughts and interactions with this deity as well as interactions I have witnessed other followers experience over the years. This guide is merely meant to be a general overview for those who are new to working with Set.

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Nothing gets people talking like a trickster god. And one of the most discussed deities in the Kemetic pantheon could easily be Set. Is he evil? Is he mean? Will he ruin your life? Does he hate Osiris? Does Osiris hate him? If you worship him, does that instantly make you evil too? Set has called me- do I get excited, or run for the hills? He is one of the most misunderstood netjeru there is- to the point that you can gauge a lot about any book on Egypt by seeing how the author views Set (in my opinion), and even a fair amount of Kemetics, while understanding that he is no Satan, still fear him on some level.

And one of the largest things I have seen through the years is:

OMG SET HAS STARTED TALKING TO ME/FOLLOWING ME/REQUESTED MY ATTENTION. WHAT DO I DO?

And then panic ensues.

Usually, when I see Set step into people’s lives, he usually is there to help you grow, to help you move forward and to help you shed unnecessary things. If he only plans on staying in your life for a bit, you might only have to live through the destruction of your life once. If he is going to stick around forever, I highly recommend you learn to regularly purge un-needed things in your life. In my experience, working under him (for lack of a better term- I don’t like using ‘worship’) requires you to alter your perspective on life and the way you approach things. For someone who is only intending to work with Set for a spell, I believe you can learn a lot about how to approach him by examining how long-term followers experience him and handle his quirks.

So what are some things that are good to know with Set? What traits should you expect to cultivate?

1. Light a fire under your ass.

In my experience, Set likes go getters. That doesn’t necessarily mean he wants you to burn out, but he wants you to be actively moving forward in you life by the means necessary. So, for example, if you’re coming to him about getting a job, he would expect you to be actively pursuing getting another job- updating your resume, applying to whatever you can, honing your interview skills, networking, etc. If you’re coming to him about getting more money, he’d expect you to be saving where you can, budgeting better, and trimming excess fat. Those sorts of things. You can’t expect to ask Set for help, and then do nothing. If you ask him for help, or find that he is coming in your direction, you better prepare to start working quickly to make things better. As I have said to many others- if the destruction and change that you need requires you to jump off a cliff- jump off of it. Don’t wait for him to throw you off.

2. Learn to be patient and more laid back.

Ironically, we all think of chaos as being uptight. However, when you’re working with a deity that is chaotic, you’ll find that you need to learn to take a chill pill, or have your head explode from frustration. Many times, Set works in his own, secretive ways. He has methods, and sometimes they don’t make a whole lot of sense. There are also times when he’ll disappear at random and not reappear for quite a while. It’s chaos, it doesn’t always make sense or appear to, at least. One of the best things I’ve learned from this is to just chill out. Oh, Set hasn’t been around for a month or two? Well I guess he’ll wander back around when he needs me. So long as you’re actively performing number 1, you should be okay. The randomness of his actions might be maddening at first- but you learn to get used to it.

3. Remember the importance of a good attitude.

This is especially true if you asked for his help. Don’t cry to him for help, then complain about his methods. During some of my lower points, I’ve wailed to him about how I was breaking under the pressure, or how I was angry that he was effectively cutting me off at the knees (in my mind). This only garnered stares or responses of “GTFO”. Having a go-getter attitude really does go a long ways with him. And sometimes (in me experience) he won’t even bother to help you start moving forward until you’ve shown that you have the courage to jump off the cliff and accept his help- which also means accepting his methods of help. Even though it might seem like hell on earth while in the middle of the process, trust in it. Know that you are getting stronger, and that in the end, it is worth it.

4. Keep on keepin’ on.

Part of having a good attitude is to keep on moving forward. Usually, Set’s lessons are hard. They will push you to your limits- but that’s part of the point. Sometimes we have to break before we can ‘level up’ as it were. Once you’ve been thrown off the cliff, you might as well keep going until you hit the bottom or learn to fly. There is no point re-contemplating once you are half way down. Showing him and yourself respect by continuously moving forward (or trying to) is one of the greatest offerings you can give him (in my opinion). Having the discipline and trust to see things through to the end is important. Even if you have a few breakdowns and tantrums along the way- so long as you pick yourself back up and keep putting one foot in front of the other, that’s what matters at the end of the day.

Even though Set can appear to be a hardass, do keep in mind that there is more to him than that. On the by and large, I would advise against whining, crying, and throwing your hands up in a fit of “I give up!” However, it does happen to the best of us. There have been times where I have absolutely broken down in shrine. When I’ve screamed at him for the position I was put into. And never in any of those moments did he lash out at me (even if he looked less than pleased). There have even been times where he seemed to feel bad for the situation I was in. He can be nice, he can be caring. However, he seems to be very particular about when and where those feelings will be shown. That’s not to say he doesn’t feel these things all the time- it’s just that he doesn’t always show it. Sometimes we need someone to be stern and somewhat cold to help us grow. I think it is the harder exterior that scares many people away- because they don’t understand that there is more to him than that. If you are going to work with Set long term, it is helpful to understand this, and to try to understand the nature of the jobs he tends to take on. To understand his methods, for there is a rhyme and reason to what he does (usually). I also think it’s important that Set appears to have a better understanding of what we can handle. Many times I thought I was at the end of my rope- only to find out I still had more left in me. It was only when I was truly at my limit did he step in to make larger changes.

All in all, if we give Set the chance to work with our lives and help facilitate changes within ourselves, there is the potential to be so much more than we currently are. I know it’s scary for many people to hear that Set is looking in their direction, but he really does have valuable lessons for us that we should try to embrace and bring manifest into our lives. So the next time you see Big Red heading your way, instead of heading for the hills, try meeting him halfway and see how working with chaos can bring good things into your life.

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2012 in Kemeticism

 

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Wep Ronpet 2012

This past weekend my household celebrated Wep Ronpet. Although KO’s calendar stated it would be on the third, for some reason, I kept thinking the fourth. So, I decided to just go with it. At least this way I’d be able to celebrate on the weekend, instead of while at work.

The day was filled with lots of cleaning. I cleaned my house from top to bottom. I cleaned my shrines, my statues… just about anything I could get my hands on. Clean clean clean.

I then decided to do some execrations via red pots.

Supplies for red pot execrations

Home Depot carries some small terra cotta pots for about .98 a piece. I didn’t want to search for red specifically, so we opted to paint ours with some acrylics laying around the house. We decided to take red sharpies and write all of the things we wanted to execrate onto the pot. Then, I decided to scribble over everything I wrote- just letting my anger and frustration out, along with any negative emotions I had stored up. We then painted our pots red and spat in them.

After the pots have been filled with negativity.

And after that, we smashed them. I stepped on mine until they were tiny tiny tiny little pieces. I had placed mine in a bag- but managed to tear the bag quite a bit. However, it felt really good. And truth be told, I could have gone for smashing 10 or so more pots.

I also finished up my work with my amulet that had been charging all week. I don’t currently have a chain for it (it’s in the mail) so for now, it’s sitting safely in the bottom drawer of my shrine.

After we did all of that, we went out to eat and enjoyed a nice meal together. Pretty much every holiday needs a good meal.

The gods got a large meal, too.

The day after Wep Ronpet we decided to go the bath route (as per what I’ve seen Tamara Siuda say in the past- the day after WR is good for baths, I believe? You can see some of the bath mixes that she sells here), for more purifications. So we got a bath bomb from Lush and soaked in the wonderful aroma that it created.

It’s called Twilight. Not related to vampires.

We are now ready to tackle the new year 🙂

Relevant Posts:

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Kemeticism

 

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Devo Magix: Amulets, Talismans and Protective Items

During my time in Kemetic groups and forums, I’ve realized that very little is ever shared or discussed about basic ‘magix’. No one really talks about cleansing items or your house. Making amulets or sigils are almost never discussed. And there has never been discussion about warding or barrier creation. I personally think this is a shame, as you never know when things could go wrong, or when you might need extra protection in a situation.

To help with this, I have decided that I will create a series of blog posts relating to these exact things. I want to discuss my methods and means to cleanse, create and protect in a more ‘magical’ sense. My methods are by NO MEANS the only methods. They just happen to be what works for me.

If you enjoy this series, or want me to discuss different aspects or topics of a similar nature, please feel free to post your ideas in the comments section. If there is anything that you would like clarification on, don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need/would like 🙂

For this post I am discussing Amulets, Talismans and Protective Items. I consider these terms to be interchangeable, and loosely define each of them as an item that is laced with intent and joo-joo (if you want a more proper definition, there is one here). Amulets can be made from anything and everything, and to some degree even sigils could be classified as an amulet. I personally find that items made of metal or stone to work the best for me- but you could make an amulet of whatever strikes your fancy.

And odds are, you already have amulets around your home that you don’t even realize are helping you out. I do believe it’s possible for amulets to sort of ‘create’ themselves. Many of us have items that we love dearly, or wear frequently, these items can slowly pick up our energies and vibrations while near them or while wearing them. Over time, this can create something similar to an amulet. It’s almost like having a ‘lucky tie’ or a ‘lucky pair of socks’. You could even say the same of a ‘power suit’ or other similar items. Everything you touch has the capacity to pick up your energies and be morphed into something else (energetically). When creating an amulet, you’re doing this intentionally.

Some items I have used as amulets.

So how does one create an amulet?

There are a few steps to creating an amulet:

  1. Determine your purpose or intent
  2. Select the item that you wish to use
  3. Cleanse the item (if necessary)
  4. Joo-joo the crap out of it
  5. Put said item to use

Start off by figuring out what it is you want your amulet to do. What is it’s purpose? General protection? To attract money? Maybe to attract a lover? To give you a boost of energy? For me, the most important aspect of amulet creation is to determine what it is you want the amulet to do. Once you have figured that out, you will want to select an item that works best for your intention. Each person has their own set of symbols, colors and ideas that connect concepts to images. So if you want protection and you are Kemetic, you might want the Eye of Heru… or maybe you find that the Sa is a better choice for you. I personally find that feathers and fish are protective for me- so I might choose to use something with either depicted on it for my own protection. The same goes with confidence. You might use ‘balls’ (as in grow a pair), or the djed (for being strong of spine), or maybe a mini-Sekhmet is more suiting for your tastes. Perhaps a solid rock is better. Maybe a pyramid is well suited- as it’s base is well grounded. As you can see- it’s all about what works for you and what symbolism really suits you.

When deciding what you want the amulet to be made out of, be sure to consider how often the item will be used. If you will be wearing this amulet daily, you will want to make sure that the materials will be able to stand up to daily use. If you only plan to use the amulet once a year, or the item is going to sit on a shelf in your house, then you can pick materials that are less sturdy.

Some AE amulets to give you ideas

More AE amulets to give you ideas.

And here are even more AE amulets to fawn over.

Once you’ve decided your intent and have gotten the item or items that you wish to use as an amulet (or amulets- there are cases of multiple amulets being strung together as a necklace) you will want to cleanse the item. To learn about cleansing items, go here. As mentioned in my cleansing post, you will want to be considerate of what the item is made of in regards to how it is cleansed.

Once you have cleansed your item, it’s a matter of filling it with ‘go juice’ to make sure it runs. You’re essentially charging it with intent and energy. There are a number of methods to do this. You can…

  • Leave it on a shrine for a couple of days – many Kemetics like to do 4 days, as 4 = completion for them. However, I find that 4 = death, and I prefer to leave things for a moon cycle in the shrine.
  • Place it in sunshine, moonlight, outdoors, in a place of energy (such as forest, trees, etc) that can feed the amulet.
  • Leave the amulet outside for the fae or other local spirits to work with (be sure to leave offerings).
  • Place it in a box, or among other items of power (such as a box of rocks).
  • Focus your intent while holding said item, and transfer your magical joo-joo into the item (my personal favorite).
  • Any combination of these above.

Depending on how much energy you need the item to have, I would do a blend. Many times I will focus my thoughts and energy into the item, then I will place it on the shrine for the gods to magic up (usually with offerings, words of power, etc) and then after they’ve had a whack at it, I’ll put more of my own energy in it again.

Usually, when directing energy into an item, I will hold the item in my hands and visualize my energy flowing into the item. The energy can be visualized as light, water, arrows – whatever works best for you. Many times, I will feel a tingling in my hands as this is being done, though that might not be the case for everyone. While doing this, you can also see visions of what it is you want the amulet to do. So if I want an amulet to bring me money, I will envision stacks of money and gold bars while charging the amulet.

Once you feel like the amulet has enough energy, you are free to wear it or use it as needed.

Amulet Upkeep

Just like any charged item, an amulet can lose some of it’s joo-joo after a while. The item may start to feel empty or look like the color has drained (I’ve noted this mainly in stones). If so, you will want to cleanse the item. If a simple cleansing hasn’t worked, or you feel like the item still isn’t as ‘good as new’, recharge the item using one of the processes above. For items that I really want to keep strong (usually only for periodic wear), I will keep them in my shrine permanently until I need to utilize the item.

Other posts in the ‘Magix’ Series:

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Devo Magix Series

 

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