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Each of Us, Kings: A Paradigm Shift

Ever since I came back to things, I’ve found myself thinking about kingship a lot and what it means for our community and our religion. I think there are several reasons behind this, not the least of which is a seemingly new trend that I’ve noticed, where people will literally find any means to get out of having to critically examine their ideas about ma’at, which includes the common practice of writing off kingship.

To be fair, I more or less admitted a few years back that I involved the king in virtually no capacity in my religious practice, but at the same time, I’m not running around assuming that because a directive of ma’at was aimed at the king, that its somehow not relevant to how ma’at pertains to me or others like me. And I think between this influx, my astral BS, and my direct workings with O this year, kingship and all that it entails has been on my mind.

The Prevalence of a Nisut in AE

It never fails that virtually every single book on ancient Egypt has some amount of information about the king or pharaoh in it, and for good reason — nearly every single bit of relief that we find in temples, and so much of what we even have left to find in the sand to begin with, was inevitably tied back to the office of the king in some capacity or another.

According to most of these books, the king was largely regarded as the primary priest that was supposed to perform the daily rites to the gods to maintain ma’at. But because the king can’t be everywhere all at once, he delegates those responsibilities to the priesthood spread throughout the country. The “Good Shepard” that he is supposed to be, the king was meant to direct the entire “flock” that was Egypt, both in terms of international relationships as well as keeping the gods happy. Because of his stewardship, the land of Egypt would flourish, and the gods would smile down upon everyone.

Or something like that.

Given that the king is the Biggest, Most Important Priest and is supposed to be the main person who knows what the gods want and expect, I feel it could be argued that the king is quite central to the State side of the religious structure of ancient Egypt. Of course, this is really only important if you’re a priest and worried about your practice mirroring what went on in temples, but given that modern practitioners are stuck using mostly state-sponsored materials to recreate their practices, it might be said that the king is actually more central to our modern religious recreations than it appears at first glance. I say this because we have very little left to work with from individual “everyday” practitioners, and most of the information we do have is from temple relief or funerary texts. All of which feature the king heavily.

It’s because of this overt positioning of the king at the center of everything that I honestly feel that we Kemetics do ourselves a disservice by ignoring what Kemeticism meant for the king. We almost never see anything about ethics, morals, or preferred behaviors and practices for anyone except for the king. Even in Sauneron’s book on priesthood, he mentions several times that priests were not held to any known ethical standard beyond what was required to perform the job (aka ritual purity.)

And yet, if we’re trying to figure out how to live in ma’at, who better to reference than the very person who was responsible for maintaining it for the entire nation?

Why a Paradigm Shift?

Study of ancient Egyptian myths and themes may be complicated by their focus on kingship (Diakonoff 1995, 124; Spalinger 2007). Rather than just a distortion, the prominence of kingship can also be read as a story of reception (or democratization), with the gradual adoption across the society of certain models first developed for kingship.

Yet Diakonoff raises the question, whether it is possible for us to see an ancient Egypt outside kingship. Writings tend, then, to obscure any parts of ancient Egypt prior to or, more neutrally, outside kingship.

One of the primary reasons that I feel a paradigm shift is in order is because of the fact that most of what we’re working with focuses on the king and his relationship to not only the gods, but with ma’at in general. I feel that if we were able to develop a better way of interpreting and applying the aspects of kingship that are brought up and referenced time and time again in relief and writing, it would help us to obtain a deeper understanding and usefulness from the materials we’ve got to work with.

I think what’s even more important than giving us a better ability to utilize the materials at our disposal, is that by viewing ourselves as being kings of our own selves, we begin to have a litmus of how to better hold ourselves more responsible to the ethical system we claim to participate in. When ma’at is left as some sort of vague, nebulous “well just do ‘right'” or “doing what is right” it becomes really hard to concretely determine what actually constitutes as “right.”

You can see it in several circles where people will almost purposefully find a way to make it so that no one can be held accountable based off of anything objective. So many interactions where people bring up that something isn’t within ma’at, people will almost do backflips to try and find a way to prove that their behaviour is actually in ma’at. Because “we’re not kings” or “we don’t have anything concrete to base this on.” As they say in business management: you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

Shifting the Paradigm

In my mind, I feel that this new paradigm would have each of us viewing each other as being a king or participating in the office that is kingship. A couple of posts ago, I talked about how everyone is their own self-contained pattern or system, and how that system has edges: 

For instance, as a person, I am made up of cells, each of which contains several patterns or similarities. I am self-contained, and yet I exist inside of an even larger pattern — a desert. And that desert is made up of its own components, each made up of their own patterns, and all of these entities is constantly interacting with the other entities and patterns around them. To take it a step further, this desert sits inside of a country, which is in many respects its own pattern that interacts with other counties (aka other patterns.)

You notice at the end of this statement, I mention that countries are their own pattern/system, and by extension, that basically means that they are essentially the same as a person in that they are both a semi-self-sufficient pattern/system. The only real difference is that a country is more complex and larger in nature than a person. We are all made up of systems that are stacked and nested inside of one another.

And in the same way that countries need leaders (or kings, for the sake of argument), I think its fair to say that each of us needs to be a leader to ourselves. No one will be with us forever, except for ourselves. And as I’ve mentioned several times over the past year, it’s imperative that we all choose to actively participate in our own lives.

In the way that a leader is supposed to foster growth, improvement, and a healthy environment for people — whether that’s a country or a company, we should all strive to improve ourselves and our lives. If we take it as seriously as the Nisut in antiquity was supposed to, wouldn’t we all end up in better places? Doesn’t it make sense to cultivate those very values in ourselves, especially since ma’at is supposed to be at the core of this religion?

In closing, I would like to post a portion of another post that I rediscovered when flipping through KRT responses. Turns out that this idea isn’t a new one:

And so the call to Kingship is for everyone; we are each to be as much a king as we can be. It is the call to fulfilling your potential. Expanding your own boundaries and ensuring that others respect them. Ambition is as much a part of kingship as altruism. Being a learned person and citizen is as well. Giving back to your community, whether by helping a sick family member, working hard at a career, helping a lost stranger, working on a campaign, or organizing a coat drive, are all ways we can embody kingship, but so is growing your assets, mastering your talents, and making sure you c.y.a. Traditionally, lusting after expertise, discipline, and wisdom are traits of good leaders. Ethics and morality, faith and values should be central as well.  Determination is also key, as is a sense of vision.

The call to kingship is similar for us. We have a call, despite our shortcomings, to improve ourselves and our world. To bloom our potential. For some, the call may be more communal than for others. Everyone is different, but we can all be a king.

What do you think of viewing yourself as the king of your own life? Does this change your perspective about how you view yourself, your religion, or your life?

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Posted by on November 14, 2018 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

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When One Door Closes…

I think it’s pretty obvious that I have fallen off of the wagon this year. I don’t even know if I could call it falling off the wagon, as it feels more like falling off the wagon and log rolling down the hill next to the wagon and into the bottom of the canyon that lies below. And then I fell into the river at the bottom of the canyon, and floated three states over.

I’m at that level of falling off the wagon.

As with most fallow times, I quit doing a lot of my work for the gods. I haven’t really done any work or rites since Wep Ronpet, and I’ve even gotten bad about opening my shrine so that I can at least look at the gods (and so the gods can look upon my wreck of a life house in return.) Over the course of the year, I’ve done less and less in regards to religious stuff.

So imagine my surprise when couple of weeks ago I got the urge to give an offering. It was an offering of cookies to O, and at first I thought it was more myself being petty at a past slight over cookies and Osiris, and so I ignored it. But the urge didn’t go away, and eventually after a few weeks of ignoring it, I decided to give in.

cookies_osiris

I’m sure many would expect that in this paragraph, I would talk about how I gave these offerings and suddenly felt the love of the gods. That they rushed forward to me and said “finally, you came back, we’ve missed you” or something equally pretty, but it would be a lie. Instead, I laid the offerings out, wafted the incense inside of the shrine, told them about what had been going on with me, gave well-wishes for their current affairs, and stared at the shrine box for a while before moving onto other things. I know this sounds boring, and it is. But it’s also realistic.

If I could sum up 2016 in terms of my Kemeticism, I’d say it was largely uneventful, just like my offerings above. It wasn’t uneventful by choice, but my body decided earlier in the year that it was Not Having Anything, and everything had to be put on hold in the wake of my health deteriorating. I’ve dealt with having spoon shortages in the past, having to muck through weird new health “things” while I held down a job and continued all of my extracurricular activities such as religioning, astral work, writing, etc. But this year was different. This time, my body went headlong straight into the ground and took me along for the ride.

By the time the summer hit my ability to do much of anything was gone. Not even gone like it used to be, where I mentally was ready to do everything but my body or time limits were preventing. Oh no, this is full on gone. Where even trying to construct sentences or read paragraphs of text is challenging. Where there are virtually no ideas in my head to even mull on, let alone the energy to mull upon them. Where trying to do housework is hard. Where trying to do much of anything is proving to be challenging. This is a whole new level of gone for me. This is completely unexplored territory in my life.

At first I tried to fight it. I figured I just needed to will up the nerve like in the past, and that I could push through it. “You can do things, just do them slower!” I’d tell myself. Until I found that just doing meant that I literally could barely function for a few days after the fact. “You can do things, just start the process and the rest will come!” as I try to write, but three paragraphs of barely legible sentences was enough proof to show me that it wasn’t something I could push through so simply like I could in the past. “You can still interact with the community if you just limit how often you go online!” as my eyes continued to glass over at the words on my screen, none of which were actually being processed. Every work around only succeeded in making my situation worse. Eventually, I had to give into the fact that this was my new normal for the time being, and that fighting it was doing me no favors.

They often say that when one door closes, another door opens, but that’s not necessarily true. Sometimes one door closes, and you’re left in a room with nowhere else to go. Sometimes life throws you a sucker punch, and your only option is to lay passed out on the ground for a while.

To put it in a more Kemetic context–sometimes your ma’at is running around smiting isfet all the time. Sometimes your ma’at is doing daily shrine work. Sometimes your ma’at is just surviving. Not everyone can do everything all the time. Sometimes we must retract ourselves from the world around us while we sort things out. Sometimes we need to prioritize meeting our bottom line of survival before we worry about other things. Sometimes a fallow period is very much a part of maintaining balance.

At the end of the day, this post has no real point to it other than to illustrate that “nothing” can happen to any of us. That life can throw a wrench in the works and sometimes we need to step back, and that that is okay. And further, that sometimes you will take a step back towards the gods, towards your religion, towards what you used to do before and not find an immediate reaction, and that that is okay too. A lack of response doesn’t necessarily mean that you messed up. The gods know, too, that fallow times have a place and a purpose. They know that sometimes we truly need a drop-everything-and-do-nothing sort of break.

This post is a reminder to be gentle with yourself when life hits you in the face and sends everything to a grinding halt. It’s a reminder that sometimes we have no choice but to sit down and be patient while we do next to nothing. A reminder that Kemeticism will still be here when you get back to it. That the gods will still be here when you get back to it, even if it’s not immediately apparent.

It’s a reminder that sometimes surviving the day to day is all that we can muster, and that there is no shame in that.

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Posted by on January 5, 2017 in Kemeticism

 

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A Shrine for Traveling

I love boxes. Boxes are so useful for holding things ever-so-nicely, and they look nice when they’re all stacked up neatly. I have so many decorative boxes laying around my house just waiting for the right stuff to be placed in them. Some might say that I have a problem, but seriously. I love boxes.

I have been holding onto a box for a long time now. For those of you have been hanging around TTR for a while probably recognize this box. It appeared in my Wep Ronpet 2014 photos, and that’s just how long I’ve been holding onto this box, waiting to give it its purpose.

Travel_shrine_closed

Unlike a lot of my other boxes, I knew exactly what stuff I wanted to put inside of it, but I was waiting for the spoons to make it happen. As soon as my SO had removed his headphones from this Beats box, I knew that I wanted to turn it into a travel shrine due to its size and obscurity. I just needed to find the energy to put it together.

Originally, I wanted to make a custom image to go inside of this box. I was going to create a scene where these shrine boxes would be painted on the back of the interior, and then I was going to have offering tables on either side of each god’s shrine, and then possibly cap everything off with images of stars, the sky, and the Nun. As pretty and nice as it sounded, two years in waiting, I never once managed to sit down and make it happen.

A few weeks ago I was at a craft store for something else, and I noticed this really nice geometric paper. It looked pretty and struck me as something that could go inside of my travel shrine box. Since I wasn’t getting around to actually making the art that was supposed to go inside, and I couldn’t tell when I’d actually have the energy or desire to make said art, I thought that this paper might be a nice work around. It’s shiny and pretty and looks expensive, so it’ll totally work, right?

Travel_shrine_Open_002

I’m actually fairly happy that I didn’t do the artwork that I wanted for this shrine piece. Originally, I had wanted to orient the box to be on it’s side, so that the “wing” you see hanging out on the left in the picture above would actually have been laying flat on the ground, with the drawer being beneath the gods, as opposed to being on the left side. However, I ended up making the drawer a little too tall, and Osiris’ statue didn’t fit in ideally in the original orientation, so I decided to flip things on their side (literally). If I had put all of the effort into the artwork, it would have been a very sad day when I went to put the statues in, and found that they didn’t fit.

The gold back plate is made of nothing but paper that has been cut down to the proper size, and formed into a box. I haven’t permanently adhered it to the interior of the box, as it seems to stay in place fairly well all on its own. The drawer is made similarly- of paper that has been cut down to the proper size and shaped into a box. Originally, this box had a divider that was fairly central, but I trimmed down the edges in order to create the space that you see for the drawer. If I wanted, I could have removed the divider entirely, and utilized the entirety of the interior of the box.

Travel_shrine_Open_005

When you first open this travel shrine, you’ll notice that it doesn’t look like much of anything. I kept the original headphone holder as a sort of “cap” to place on top of the shrine before I close it. That way, all of the contents are very secure inside, and if someone gets nosy and opens it, they might get disinterested and not bother to look beneath the cap.

Once you remove the cap, you can see that I have fabric in place to keep my statues safe during transit. On the left, I have placed a portable offering tray and ritual rubric inside of the black sleeve. I also have enough room that I could easily put a book of matches, incense, amulets, or other relatively narrow items inside.

Travel_shrine_Open_003

Shrine when it’s set up.

To the left of the gods’ naos, I have a drawer where I have stored incense, natron, and some votive offerings. It’s very likely that when I’m out traveling, I’m going to offer actual food and water on actual dishes, but I thought it would be nice to have votive offerings to keep the gods fed while the shrine isn’t in use. Plus, if I ever happen to be in a situation where I don’t have access to these things, I will have backups in place. You can also see in the picture above the small rubric that I’ve made.

Close-up of drawer and its contents

Close-up of drawer and its contents

Originally I had wanted to write the offering formula on the drawer, so that way it would relate to the offerings inside. However, I wasn’t sure about the translations that I was finding, and I was doubly not sure about being able to fit an entire offering formula on the front of such a small drawer. So instead I decided to place ma’at feathers on the front. That way the gods are getting their daily dose of ma’at as well.

Some of the other perks of this setup is that I can easily remove the golden back plate and swap it out for something else if I felt like it. That means that one day, I could actually make the art in the correct proportions, and put that in place if I ever got the spoons to do so. I could also write heka and place it behind the back plate, if I wanted. I could also decorate the outside of the box to include more protective heka, but in this case I’d rather leave the box unassuming in appearance. That way no one gets the inkling to explore its contents. I think that this setup could easily work for a full time shrine on the DL, if you wanted. It would be small, but it would be very discreet.

Travel_shrine_Open

I’m super happy to finally have a travel shrine that is more formal than what I’ve used in the past. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting to make, but I think it’s turned out nice all the same.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2016 in Kemeticism

 

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A Religion of Boredom

Religion is great, right? You get to learn new stuff. You get to develop a personal practice that works well for your needs. You get the opportunity to develop relationships with the gods. You get the chance to give the gods cool stuff, and sometimes they give cool stuff back. You get to try new things, and many times you get to work on your personal stuff, too. It’s a never-ending trail of “where the hell are we going, again?”

But the truth of the matter is, no matter how much religioning you do, religion can be incredibly boring from time to time.

You know the kind I mean. It’s the kind where you wake up one morning, and you’re preparing your offerings for shrine, and you realize “Wow, I’ve done this same ritual for 6 months now. And I haven’t heard a single peep from the gods in almost the same amount of time. And I think I’ve offered them the same basic offerings for the past two weeks. And wow this is boring- why am I doing this again?” And then once you’ve hit that point, most of us get this rush of fear and anxiety. We begin to wonder if we’re doing it wrong. “Is it okay to not hear from the gods for 6 months? Is it bad to offer the same exact thing day after day? Oh no, maybe they’re not talking to me because I’m doing it wrong!” And so everything rushes down the gutter as the waves of inadequacy wash over you.

But like I said above- religion is sometimes boring. For everyone.

There will always be times when your gods don’t hang around much. There will always be times when you’re not asked or required to do a whole lot in terms of service to the gods. Even the priests in ancient times had breaks in their service. And even when you are being asked to get things done, there will always be times when you still feel pretty bored or inadequate. There will always be lulls in what you’re doing.

I think that the idea of boredom having a place in religion is foreign to us because so much of the media that is out there for us to consume about religion (and paganism specifically) purports this idea that there is always something going on. It’s been stated in many places that people rarely write about when nothing is happening. It’s hard to make posts out of literal nothing, and many of us don’t bother to write about the day to day, more mundane aspects of our practices. This is a great disservice to the wider community, because I think that many newcomers assume that once you start running down the hill into paganism, that you never stop running.

But if you never stopped running, your legs would get awful tired. If you don’t stop going full steam ahead, eventually you will tire out. In that respect, we need some aspect of boredom in our practice. We need to have times where nothing major is going on, so that we can recuperate and gather up our energy for other things.

For a comparison, think of your daily life. Do you ever take time to rest or wish that you had time to rest? Do you have a job that is non-stop go go go go go go GO GO GO? And if your job is like that, do you ever wish that there was a brief point in time where you could just sit at your desk and simply be for a few minutes? If your religion ran you ragged, you’d feel the same way. Even in our current society (speaking for the US), you are legally entitled to two breaks per day, because it’s well known that rested workers work better.

If we apply those same concepts to religion, I think that it would make sense that the gods would step back from time to time to allow us room to breath. If we are constantly running all the time, we will burn out. We need time to go through the basic motions without anything additional thrown onto the pile. And in turn, it’s very likely that the gods need their own time, too. Even if a deity only has about 50 devotees- imagine how much time must be spent giving daily attention to each and every individual, on top of whatever the deity is already working on. The gods have a lot going on that isn’t centered on us or our shrine and offering habits. It makes sense that they won’t always be around.

Okay, so boredom is normal, and sometimes necessary. What do I do about it?

If you google “relationship boredom” you will find that there are thousands of hits talking about nearly every aspect of relationships and how people react when they become normal (read: boring). Out of all of the angles that could be covered about relationships and their normalcy, you’ll find the most common topic is “how to make your relationship exciting again”. There are posts that are similar to that in the religious community, too. If you read through the KRT topic on Fallow Time, you’ll see that many people give some suggestions for how to break out of a fallow period and restart your religious practice again. However, being bored isn’t quite the same as fallow time. Fallow time usually involves a complete breakdown or degradation of your religious practice. Boredom is usually a sign that things are becoming normal or stable.

Speaking as someone who has been in a relationship with the same person for about ten years now, I can assure everyone who is reading that boredom is part of every solid relationship. There are some days that my SO and I don’t hardly talk at all because there is so little to talk about. We sit at our respective computers and work on our personal endeavors. We get up and spend a little time together, and then go back to doing our own thing. This isn’t a sign that we’re dysfunctional as much as it is a sign that we’re comfortable.

You can’t expect each day to have new and exciting stuff. When you live a relatively repetitive life (which most of us do), you’re going to have days when nothing exciting is going on. This isn’t necessarily bad, it’s simply a part of life. By trying to fight this regularity, you’re creating unnecessary stress for yourself that needn’t be there. Don’t be afraid of consistency or the boredom you may initially feel when you realize things have become somewhat wrote. You’re not doing anything wrong. Surely the priests in antiquity got bored with the same daily rituals that would be performed day after day after day. And when that boredom struck, I’m fairly certain the temple didn’t up and decide to spice things up by changing the structure of the shrine rituals. I’m fairly confident that the gods are used to the daily grind of consistent rites and offerings because that’s how it was done “back in the day”. If anything, its we modern practitioners that need to learn to become more okay with consistency and repetition.

So instead of telling you how to make your practice more exciting again, I’m going to recommend something very different. I’m going to suggest that you learn to become okay with the feeling. Remind yourself that this is part of the process of something new becoming something normal, and that the rites and offerings in antiquity rarely changed, so it shouldn’t be a huge deal if you do the same rites and give the same offerings day after day after day. When the first wave of “oh no, I’m messing up” hits you, take a step back and tell yourself that it’s okay. Push through the feelings as best as you can and keep performing your rites as you normally would and see how the feeling shifts or changes over time. Odds are you’ll find that everything becomes more okay as you continue your practice.

Have you ever felt bored with your religious practice? How did you handle these feelings? Any advice for anyone experiencing boredom in their religious pursuits?

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Posted by on February 15, 2016 in Kemeticism

 

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Mysteries 2015, Pt 2

A month ago I locked one of my patron deities in a box. Shortly beforehand, he told me to spend the month of solitude “taking care of myself.” I didn’t like this idea, as I had mentioned in my first post on this year’s Mysteries, but I decided to roll with it, as I feared that ignoring his request demand would result in missing out on a learning opportunity of some kind. I’m one of those annoying people that runs headlong into everything that the gods throw at them, even if the task is suckfest, because I’m always looking for the chance to improve or learn.

So I did what he asked. I placed him in the shrine, locked the doors and did nothing for a month. Or at least, nothing overly religious. The ideas I had had about blogging about mourning, the rituals I wanted to do, all of it got put on hold in an attempt to do nothing but “take care of myself” as Osiris had asked of me.

As the month passed, I pondered about whether I should be doing anything more for O while he went through his annual “rejuvenation vacation”. Should I give him incense every day? Should I be actively mourning? Should I be contemplating life and death? And then I’d remind myself that I’m not supposed to really be doing anything that didn’t play a role in self-care. He didn’t give me instructions beyond taking care of myself, and yet all I could think to do was find ways to put myself out in an attempt to honor Him.

I’m not good at this, sometimes.

Even though I was constantly worrying about what I “should” be doing, deep down I knew that I didn’t really want to think about death or mourning. I had had so much experience mourning over the previous year that it was the last thing I wanted to think about. In a way, I was probably a little bit happy that he wasn’t leading me through gut-wrenching adventures this year. It’s very true that I even though I wanted to do more for the Mysteries, I desperately needed a break from everything I had been through. But even though I was doing my best to take care of myself and not worry about Him or what the Mysteries entail, I found myself thinking about mourning all the same. I’d watch something thinking that it would be okay, but then there would be a character who had lost someone- a friend, a family member, their dog- and suddenly I’d be thinking about death again. I’d slip back into the depths of my own mind and constantly remind myself of what I had lost.

Even though he had told me to not focus on the Mysteries, the themes of the holiday found me all the same. If there is something that I’ve learned about death and mourning over this past year, it’s that it finds you whether you want it to or not. In many ways, it’s out of your control.

I want to diver for a moment and mention that normally I wouldn’t have made a second post about this set of Mysteries. My “celebrations” (inasmuch as anything tied to the Mysteries is a celebration) included things like lighting incense when I felt inclined, fiddling with the beads that O made me wear while I scrolled through tumblr, or leaving water in front of Set’s icon so that he wouldn’t get thirsty. And those were only the productive celebrations. Aside from these things there were plenty of days where I did nothing but be a sack of sadness, or where I’d sit in my chair and disassociate for half an hour.

When it’s all said and done, I did very little for this year’s rites. Because I did so little, and because there is no overarching take home point to tell all of you about, I usually wouldn’t bother to even bring it up to begin with. I’d move on to other posts and other topics that might have a more perceived benefit for my readers than telling you about the month where I wallowed in depression.

However, it’s also a pretty well-known problem that a lot of people assume that people like me always have something going on. “Everyone else has more involved practices than I do. They are able to do so much more!” And I wanted to give you an example of what my practice commonly does look like. I have periods of intense work (such as the Mysteries of 2013), and those are often followed up with months of very little- much like what you’re reading about here.

Not every holiday will be spectacular. Not every rite will be mind blowing or eye opening. Sometimes the only point a god is trying to get home to you is that you are worth taking care of, and that you need to take care of yourself. Sometimes doing nothing is good, even if it’s not what we want.

mysteries_open

By the time the month was drawing to a close, I was super ready to open the shrine again. Upon thinking about it more, I believe that part of the reason that I wanted to do so much was because I wanted to reconnect with the gods after having been gone for so long, and I think this played a role in wanting to skip the final day and open everything up early. However, I can understand that those feelings are misplaced when I allow them to drive me into doing too much and losing all of my spoons, and as such, I forced myself to wait the full cycle before opening the doors. I finally had gotten some flowers to place in my mini-vase, and so I adorned the shrine with them in celebration of Osiris’s return.

That is a summation of the Mysteries of 2015. A whole lot of sitting around and doing very little. Sometimes that’s all you can do. Sometimes that’s all you should do. And sometimes it’s a little bit of both.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2016 in Kemeticism

 

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Mysteries 2015

This year I decided that I was going to celebrate the Mysteries like I used to once upon a time. In recent years I have done work Over There with Osiris for his yearly holiday (if it can be called a holiday), but I haven’t done too much out here to mirror that. Due to an inability to do anything last year here or there, I decided that I would make sure that I did the physical trappings of the holiday in my home this year, even if I couldn’t do anything else.

Originally I had wanted to do more, but Osiris wouldn’t let me. He’s been consistently telling me that he doesn’t want me to do anything more than my standard rites. It’s not that I haven’t offered to do more, it’s that he doesn’t want me to do more. “You need to take care of yourself” has been the motto. I’m not really sure how sitting on my thumbs when I could be running some community heka is taking care of myself, but he was very firm in his request. I didn’t want to ignore his demands, as that might be missing the point that he was trying to drive home, but I have been less than happy about being told to do what I equate to nothing.

Nothing is not something that I excel at. Even when I fully want to sit around and be lazy, I have a hard time letting myself indulge in the behaviour. Even when I know that I need to stop and rest, I have a hard time actually following through. I have been raised to always be busy, even when it’s not particularly productive or helpful to me. However, Osiris has told me many times over that doing nothing is important. It’s part of his process, part of his Mysteries, if you will. After you die, you do nothing. You lay there completely inert and helpless. You are at the mercy of the world around you. Your only hope is whoever you have around you to help assist you in the process. In the case of the Mysteries, those people would largely be Anup, Aset, Nebhet and Heru. In a more human sense, it would be whomever outlives you- usually family members and friends.

Nothing is part of the process. In order to really understand and embrace Osiris’ ways, you have to learn to do nothing and be somewhat okay with it.

Myst_001

This year’s rites were not that different from the ritual I linked to above. I cleaned out my shrine and the surrounding area. I removed all excessive decoration and made sure that everything was clear of dust. I selected a range of re-ment offerings to leave in the shrine box with Osiris for the next month. I focused largely on bread and beer, as they have a lot of significance to Osiris due to his associations with grain. I also included some greenery and placed the bread offerings on top of a lily pad to represent new growth. I included an egg and a bowl of nuts for fertility. Incense in a shade of green to invoke growth and to also bring the gods forward, as they love good smelling things. I included scarabs, which are all about rebirth. I placed a chicken leg on top of the bread because it’s the closest thing that I have to a beef foreleg, and has ties to Opening the Mouth ceremonies and symbolizes strength and power. And a chocolate, because who doesn’t love chocolate.

What is different from past years was that I included myself in the shrine box for once. I placed myself opposite of the offerings and Osiris, as a means to invoke a follower giving things to their god. I’m not sure if that would be historically supported, but he gave me the permission to do so, so I thought I would try it.

I also changed up some of the wrapping style this year. I included my amulets with him. The djed pillar tucked close to his back for stability. The sekhem wrapped up close to his chest for strength. And the ma’at feather to help him achieve balance in his endeavors. You would include amulets with a mummy, so I felt that it was applicable here as well.

I placed everything in the shrine and probably stared at it for 20 minutes before I could bring myself to close it. Once it is closed, you can’t open it until the following new moon, and that weighed on me particularly heavy this year. I asked him if it ever got easier- going through this process of death every year. He told me no, and that that was the point. If I was not being effected by it, then I was not truly open to what I was experiencing.

Myst_002

Once I could finally bring myself to do so, I closed the doors and locked them up. One month of not being able to access anything inside. One month of doing “nothing” or whatever it is that Osiris has tucked up his sleeve.

And it’s not just one month for me, either. It’s one month for Set as well. The downside to performing the rites in this fashion is that he loses his home as well. A yearly reminder that stability and Order come at a price. A reminder that nothing is truly ever stable or eternal, but that only through the consistent work of everyone can stability or eternity hope to be achieved. A reminder that his place within the pantheon of the NTRW will always be a little bit love-hate.

Myst_003

Although it might seem weird to place Set in front of the shrine, since he was the one who initiated Osiris into these Mysteries, I think that it can be fitting. He stands guard in front of the shrine, protecting its inhabitants in the same way a shrine bolt does every day. He is the one who bore Osiris’ coffin across the Nile to the necropolis, and even Griffiths had surmised that Set felt some sorrow or remorse for what had happened. I think it may seem a little weird from a purely Osirian context, but my experiences with both of these gods together has led me to believe that Set can protect Osiris from harm while he is inert. That which has the propensity to harm us can also save us.

I place Anup on top of the shrine to watch over the process. It is through his skill and knowledge that Osiris can become reborn and whole again. And I include Aset with Set to help with the mourning process. It is through the work of everyone’s hands that Osiris makes it through the tribulations of death and the Duat.

All there is to do now is wait and see what “nothing” brings.

Relevant Posts:

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2015 in Kemeticism

 

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Devo’s Burninatin’ Celebration: 2015 Edition

With each passing year I have found that my Wep Ronpet festivities are less about the Epagomenal days, and are becoming more and more about Set and execrating things and calling it a holiday. Like last year, my Wep Ronpet started about a month early when I put out the public invitation to participate in my yearly execration. It’s only fair, I suppose, since Osiris gets a full month out of me in the winter, and now Set gets a month in the summer (though the work I do during each month is very very different). Each year my execration rites and methods are dictated by Set who often uses this as a means to further my understanding of things such as himself, myself, our relationship together, etc.

For those who were around for last year’s execration, you’ll know that he involved my sewing habit, and sought to incorporate the overlap that exists between sewing, heka, and Kemeticism. This year’s theme could easily be summed up as “a pot of unrest.” For those who don’t know where the phrase stems from, it comes from a spell that you can find inside of Borghouts’ text where Set has been injured, and Horus seeks to find out his real name in order to heal him. Amongst the many names that he hands out, he calls himself a “Quiver full of arrows, a pot full of unrest” (you can see more on Henadology about this, too).

I discovered this story shortly before my execration invitation went out, and it’s colored a lot of my practice ever since. Possibly due to my mounting frustrations with my family and their constant picking at my anger, or maybe due to being a second-class citizen in my country, I found myself relating to the idea of being a “pot of unrest”. So when Set told me that we were going to use that as part of our execration this year, I was a bit excited to see how this would pan out.

execration_pot of unrest

My pot of unrest sitting in front of the shrine.

“We are preparing a pig for slaughter,” he told me as I placed the first set of petition papers into my pot of unrest. This year, I augmented how I wrote out the execration petitions. Instead of simply writing out what needed to be destroyed, I would write a statement of what would be slaughtered, and then followed that up with a statement of what the end goal would look like once the execration was done. For example: I destroy my anxiety and worrisome thoughts. My mind is calm and at ease. I am in control of my thoughts.

After I wrote the petitions on the pieces of paper, I set them into my pot and left them to stew for the rest of the month. The pot was just a pot in it’s own right, but once you filled it with the grit and grime that everyone wanted to eradicate, it became filled with unrest. Unrest that was dieing to get out.

In many cultures, when you’re preparing an animal for a sacred feast or holy day, you take very good care of the animal. It is given a special meal and special treatment. Sometimes they will adorn the animal with pretty flowers, fancy cloth, or other nice things. In this case, my pot of unrest contained the “meat” of what we would be killing and roasting during this execration. In the same fashion that you might give your sacrificial animal a large last meal or maybe drape pretty flowers on them, I decided to decorate and “pretty up” all of these awful things that we would be destroying on Wep Ronpet. I also wanted to make this pig fat, so I placed the pot of unrest in front of the shrine and placed all of my offerings before not only the gods, but the pot of unrest as well.

execration-altar-setup-top

Last year, Set had talked to me about taking care with my a/pep effigy. He told me that sometimes we must destroy what we love and that just because something is destined to be destroyed doesn’t mean that we should cut corners, and that mentality went a little deeper this year. Instead of taking care to sew an effigy on the last night before our execration, I would spend an entire month cultivating this pot of unrest and everything inside of it. It is true that the items written on the slips of paper are things that we all want to get rid of, but it is important to remember that these habits and traits are hard to get rid of for a reason. It is very often that our bad habits end up being very dear to us in their own ways. We can’t cope with things, and so we indulge in stuff that we probably shouldn’t. We fear for the unknown, so we cling to whatever is familiar to us, no matter how detrimental that behaviour may be. Our relationship to our darker sides and habits is often very complex, and I believe Set was trying to emulate this throughout the pre-execration process.

Sometimes the things that threaten our well being the most end up being the most comforting to us. He implied in some ways, that these things still need to be given a fair amount of love in order to be released more readily. But because the people who are falling victim to these bad habits probably can’t afford such a thing (it’s hard to love parts of you that you hate, to love things that you do that unravel your life), that is the role that I would be filling. This is familiar to me in terms of healing, because you often have to become ambivalent or relatively removed from a person during a healing process. It’s hard to get someone to heal if you’re too busy judging them, or making them judge themself. And as I’ve mentioned in the past, if you can’t come to accept yourself or what you’ve done, healing, letting go and moving on can become near impossible. For the first time, I was beginning to see how O’s work and Set’s work were going to overlap in a more practical sense.

We will feed these bad habits for a month. We will feed this pig until it can’t hold anymore. And then we will pierce the pig with our arrows, and feast upon its flesh. That was the aim.

execration-altar-setup-front

On the day of the execration, I pulled out each paper one by one and drew an arrow through each line of text. This effectively turned each petition into a quiver of arrows. Some of these arrows were going to pierce the problem, the pig, and destroy whatever each person wanted destroyed. But that would leave one other final arrow that was drawn through the positive statement at the end: this arrow was going to work for each person who had submitted a petition, and help to guide that person to a better place.

I wasn’t entirely aware of this caveat when I started, it was something that Set sorta sprung on me at the last minute while I was drawing these arrows onto each sheet of paper. Like normal, I met with him Over There while I did the ritual over here, and as I began to draw arrows on the papers, I found arrows appearing in my hands over there. By the time the execration was finished, these arrows had flown off to their respective owners, and were going to help push that person into a better place. I was reminded a bit of O’s impaling magix, which is supposed to help force change in a given situation while also being reminded of various NTRW’s Arrows, which are supposed to go do the bidding of the particular god in question.

Had I sent out his Arrows to help people? Had I sent out my own Arrows to help people? I’m not sure. But arrows were sent out all the same.

execration

Afterwards, I was told to make a post for everyone who had submitted a petition to see. He said that everyone needed to focus on where they wanted to go, everyone needed to keep their eye on the prize, so that the arrow would go in the right direction. He gave me an image of heka, arrow and a shen, which I took to mean that your heka drives your arrow, and the shen offers protection so that you are able to get where you want to be safely.

Shen-Heka

Last year’s execration felt an awful lot like “destroy all of the things!” The music that was used was from Save Rock and Roll, which is filled with a lot of angry ass-kicking songs. Where as this year’s theme was Uma Thurman, a song that featured more about making miraculous things happen (and summer sex). This year’s execration felt less like directing anger, and more about bigger picture stuff- don’t just destroy the bad things, also work on the aftermath and bringing in the good stuff, too. As I had stated above, it was a lot like I incorporated both Set and Osiris, and had managed to bring in not only destruction but long-term healing as well.

I guess now we must wait and see if the proof is in the pudding, and if people experience some change in the coming months.

Other Wep Ronpet 2015 Posts:

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2015 in Kemeticism

 

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