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Questioning Your Way to a Solution

In terms of my religious practice, I have spent the better part of the past year aimlessly wandering. This may surprise some people (maybe?) as I’m sure that most would consider my conviction in regards to Kemeticism to be pretty rock solid. But the fact of the matter is that sometime in the past year or so, my interest in most things suddenly disappeared without a solid reason, and as a result I have been left with a void where my passion for religion used to live. This has caused me to spend a lot of my time questioning what this means and what I should do about it.

I have seen people suggest that having periods of questioning (or perhaps better referred to as “crisis of faith”) is somehow bad, as though you’re personally offending the gods by examining your place within your religion or relationship with them. However, I personally think that there comes a time in everyone’s practice where they run into a period of being lost or unsure; where they aren’t sure why they’re doing something or whether they should continue to do it. Like many topics that are considered “bad”, I find the lack of resources for sorting such a situation out to be unhelpful, not to mention that the semi-taboo nature of the topic doesn’t allow for people to openly search for answers. This is a problem.

Over on Tumblr, I will regularly get questions about how to handle situations where a god isn’t responding, where a practice is no longer fulfilling, where a person is unsure how to move forward, and each time that I receive such questions, I often tell people to self-reflect to see if they can better ascertain an answer for themselves. My logic behind this has always been a case of “how can you know what to do if you don’t know how you got here?” If the religion used to fulfill you, what happened that caused it to become unfulfilling? Examining where you started and comparing it to where you are can often times be enlightening.

That being said, I have been doing a lot of self-reflection this past year as I’ve looked for answers to my suddenly disappearing enthusiasm.

When I first noticed that I suddenly gave zero cares about Kemeticism, my gut response was to freak out. I think any of us would initially become concerned if something we used to be passionate about was suddenly of no interest to us, and I was no exception. It’s not something that usually happens overnight, but for me it felt like it did. As though one week I was interested in doing the things I had been doing for years, and the next week I suddenly no longer cared about any of it.

On the other hand, I wanted to ignore that I noticed a shift in things. I wanted to believe that it was a temporary issue that would resolve itself over the course of a few weeks. This is not uncommon for me, as I often burn out on a lot of what I do on a regular basis. However, as the weeks dragged on and nothing changed, I realized that something was definitely up. I now knew that I needed to shift gears to figure out what was causing these issues.

The Process

For me, there is a process that is involved with picking apart problems:

  • First is to notice that there is something that is off or different.
  • The next thing is to stay calm about it. This doesn’t necessarily mean ignoring the issue (as I had) as much as it means not running around like a chicken with your head cut off. Remember that these issues can happen to anyone for any number of reasons, and nothing says that the current feeling or situation is permanent or necessarily indicative of a problem. It’s easier to troubleshoot something if you’re calm.
  • From here, I recommend a potential period of observation to make sure that what you are feeling or perceiving isn’t a momentary sort of thing. Things you could think about include: What do you notice about what you’re feeling? Does it come and go with your mental health, mood, or stress levels? Or is it consistent? I always find its best to wait and make sure that it’s a long term “thing” and not a spur of the moment misunderstanding.
  • Once you’ve ascertained that the issue is not going away, then you move into the questioning phase.

It’s also worth noting that I will often switch between periods of intense introspection/questioning and observing/waiting. I don’t think it’s mandatory to do everything in one go, and I think it’s very likely that most of us won’t find all of our solutions in a singular round of questioning. Being able to pick up your “problem” and inspect it from a bunch of angles, and then set it back down for a while before coming back to inspect it again allows you to process and consider other angles you didn’t think of earlier. Just like any sort of shadow work, none of this needs to be absolutely linear; I’m just trying to give some general guidelines for those who are new to this method of working.

Asking Questions

When it comes to reflection on a particular topic, problem or situation, I don’t think that there is necessarily a right or wrong way to go about it. You can sit and mull on all of these questions at once, or you could mull on them one at a time. You could try writing down answers to these questions or simply go through the answers in your head. You could even pose these questions to a sort of divination deck to see if you’re overlooking something about the topic in regards to the situation.

This is definitely not an exhaustive list of what could be asked, but is simply a place to get started on mulling your way to a possible answer or solution to any particular situation you’re in. I have organized the questions based off of general topic, and as such, some of these questions are redundant. However, I find it easier to mull when I’m not trying to parse apart several questions that have been stacked into one.

Questioning a deity relationship:

  • What first attracted you to this particular deity?
  • What about the relationship did you enjoy? What didn’t you enjoy?
  • Has anything changed recently in your life or in the relationship that may be causing a shift in feelings?
  • How often do you reach out to this god? When was the last time you attempted to communicate with them? What was that communication like?
  • What is considered a normal level of communication with the deity? Has this changed recently, if ever?
  • Has the deity expressed any signs that would signal that there were any issues present? If so, what were they and did you ever ask for further information from the god when it happened?
  • What sorts of things are you looking for in a relationship with a god? What are you hoping to achieve by developing a relationship with a deity? If currently in a relationship, what of these things are not being met, if any?
  • What does your deity expect of you, if anything? How does this make you feel? Are the expectations realistic or feasible?
  • What feelings do you get when you think about said deity? Are these feelings different from when you first started out, or when you felt the relationship was stable (if applicable)?
  • If you could tell your deity anything about your current feelings/status with them, what would it be? Why would you wish to convey these emotions/thoughts to them?
  • If your deity could clarify anything for you about your relationship, what would it be and why would it be helpful?
  • When you think of no longer having a relationship with your god (or when you think of changing the nature of the relationship with your god), how does it make you feel? What could that indicate?

Questioning your place in a religion:

  • What first brought you to your religion?
  • What do you enjoy about your religion–whether the religious practice, community, or structure, etc.? What don’t you enjoy about it?
  • When did your feelings about your religion change? Was anything going on at the time that could have caused the shift in feelings?
  • What do you hope to get out of your religious practice? Is your current practice meeting your needs? If not, what could be done to help your needs be met?
  • Are there any external factors that could be causing a shift in feelings about your religious practice?
  • Have you talked to the gods about your shift in feelings? What have they said about it?
  • What makes you hesitant to leave or join [insert particular religion]? Why?

As I had stated above, this list of questions isn’t exhaustive, and they may not cover exactly what each person who reads this is looking for. However, I feel that they indicate the nature of the questions I typically ask when I’m trying to figure a situation out, and as such, can be used to formulate other questions of a similar nature for other situations.

I’ve answers some questions… what now?

This is the hard part, in my opinion. Its easy (sometimes) to sit around and mull on some questions, but figuring out what to do with the information you uncover is a different story. Generally speaking, I like to ask questions so that I can get a feel for my thoughts on a situation, and then use that information to make an informed decision on what to do in said situation. However, it can sometimes take several rounds of questioning and mulling before I actually arrive at a decision that I’m comfortable with. Remember that none of this has to happen all at once, and sometimes you may ask yourself a question and find that you don’t have an answer to it. The whole point of the questioning is to really get to the heart of the matter to better inform yourself on what you really think or feel about a particular situation. And then to use that information to make a better decision.

Do you find that questioning helps you arrive at a decision in a difficult situation? If so, what sorts of questions do you typically ask yourself?

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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FK Journal: Words meets Darkness

I’m a little behind on my FK journal entries (so.much. going. on.) so this week I’m going to combine both entries into one- as I figure most of you don’t want more clutter on your feeds. The first entry relates to speech and FK and the original article can be found here. The second entry relates to (my favorite) the Dark Flame and can be found here.

 

I Speak the Universe:

I like this entry. I like it because I need to be reminded that words are in fact powerful. This should be easy for me, as both Shinto and Kemetic practices teach the importance of the utterance. The words need to be said *just so* and our speech (in both religions) is a gift to us from the gods. In both practices, well done speech in ritual helps to pacify and please the gods. So it would make sense that speech is important to me, right?

Wrong. I have a hard time loving English. It’s an ugly language, in  my opinion. And it doesn’t help that I live in a country where words are slung out without any sort of forethought or tact. Words are a tool for Americans and nothing more. So I tend to forget that there is life in words. There is life in all that I say. And that all that I say can be very creative or very destructive (which I do note the destructive part- a working with Set that taught me that I don’t need to kill everything dead with my speech, even if I am capable of it).

I think my favorite part of this article was this right here:

We need to be aware of how we speak and what we intend when we speak. Because our words recreate the Universe.

And I need to remember that.

Questions:

What does it mean to speak? What does speech mean to you?

I suppose the most literal definition is to make noises come out of your body that helps others to understand what you want/need/etc. However, it’s technically more than that. It’s a means to bridge (or create) gaps. It defines culture, ideas, can bring things together in many ways. But speech is also destructive, hurtful, and can cause rifts that will never be fixed. It is the ultimate tool.

What would it mean to be unable to communicate with language? What does communication mean to you?

I don’t know what I would do. I have had times where I am just too beat to use my words to express what I need to others. There have been times when my voice is gone, and using ASL with people isn’t an option- it’s frustrating and hard to get what you mean across. And it can wear you out. So I imagine it would suck (in short). Communication is key for me. I see misunderstandings that happen all the time because people aren’t communicating well and it frustrates me. I also get upset when people purposely try to obscure what they mean and interrupt communication- it’s totally counterproductive. I am all about communication. We need more of it.

When is speech sacred? What does sacred speech mean compared to regular speech? Is there a difference?

All speech is sacred. Both of my paths have taught me this. While I sometimes forget it, at it’s core, I believe that all speech is sacred (because everything is sacred in FK) and that all words should be treated as such.

 

Perceiving the Dark Flame:

We heard you like flames, so we put flames inside your flames.

The bright flame, the normal flame, is a flame we share with others. It is visible in how we act and what we do, shining into dark corners and creating boundaries, showing who we are and aren’t. It burns from within to without and shows in our lives.

Most people break up their Flame into Bright and Dark. And that’s it. I feel like my 2 Flames also have Bright and Dark parts- there are parts of my Bright Flame that you can see, and then there are parts that you should be able to see, but I keep hidden. And that also goes with my Dark Flame. Perhaps I’m missing the concept, but I feel like I am not completely accepting the whole entirety of my two Flames. And while I’m in the process of working on that, they each have their own Bright and Dark qualities.

The dark flame is different. It is hidden, quiet, cool. It burns for ourselves. It revitalizes and refuels us. In the darkness, we find ourselves again. We connect with our inner Divine spark through quiet as well as action. The dark flame gives us a point to connect that Divinity to.

I love Dark Stuff as it were. I thrive in the dark. I hate the light (comes from living in a desert). And ironically, I have had an easier time working on my Setian issues than I have my Osirian issues. I can accept my negative attributes without a problem. I can look at my dark pit and say “wow, there are a lot of BAD emotions in there. Lot’s of baggage. Lot’s of damage that I need to figure out” and not bat an eyelash. But O comes and tells me “You need to go be sociable. You need to love yourself. You need to show people the whole you, not just the Set version of you” and I flip out. My Bright Flame is my bane. Because I have a hard time keeping the dark half from completely swallowing up the bright half.

But I suppose I am getting off track. The point of all of this is I love the Dark Flame work. Sometimes, I wish it was all about the Dark Flame.

Questions:

Are you in balance? Are you even aware of your inward dark flame?

I believe so. As I said above, I have flames in my flames lol. I think I am more in tune with my dark flame. I often have to retreat into myself to work on how to project myself to the world. I go inwards to work on my Bright Flame- as weird as that may be. However, I don’t think I’m completely balanced. Set wants me to be whole- which means I’m currently not whole. I’m two halves fighting with one another trying to figure out how to keep an equilibrium. So while I understand the halves are there- they aren’t in perfect balance yet.

Is the darkness in you nurtured as well as the light? Why or why not? Does this imagery make you uncomfortable?

I suck at the Light stuff. I would argue that my Dark is more nurtured. I love the coolness that it brings me. The Light work just wears me out. The imagery doesn’t bother me. It’s hard to keep it in line, though. I consider dark to be yin and light to be yang- which is some of the opposite of how other people look at light and dark (good and evil). So I have to be careful with how I do my wording. Otherwise, it doesn’t bother me.

Can you feel the Divine connection to the dark flame? The lit one? both?

Both. The Divine is in everything, and I can feel the divine touch in all aspects of myself.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2011 in FK Journal, Flame Keeping

 

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