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The Time Outside of Time

For the past week, my daily routine has been abnormal. Instead of hearing my alarm in the morning and instantly getting up to get ready before I must leave to drive into work, I have been turning the alarm off and going back to sleep for a while in the hopes that it will help my body heal from what plagues it. Instead of spending eight hours at a desk working on orders, I find myself spending a lot of my day idling aimlessly around my house, trying to find ways to kill time without any energy to really devote to anything.

And even once my illness recedes, my patterns will still be off-kilter in other ways. I may begin to get up with my alarm and rush to get to work, but things will be different in every other aspect. I’ll have less traffic impeding me on my way into the office, since many other people are in quarantine and kids aren’t in school. I’ll have to devote more time and energy into procuring my weekly supplies (groceries), as every store in my area has been completely wiped out, and will likely have a restricted selection for weeks to come. And I’ll have to be more considerate about keeping enough energy to cook, since I won’t be able to rely on restaurants and fast food to help me out on days when my brain or body needs an easy meal.

We are living in strange times, you and I. In the wake of a global pandemic, many things have changed overnight for most of us.

As I ponder how surreal everything feels, I find myself frequently thinking about the intercalary days, and how their existence is unique in every aspect. For those of you who don’t know what the intercalary or epagomenal days are, they are the five days that precede Wep Ronpet. These days are said to have come about when Re wouldn’t allow Nut to birth her children on any day of the year. In order to help solve Nut’s problem, Thoth decided to bet on a game of Senut with Khonsu, and upon winning, Nut was able to give birth on these five days that existed outside of the year.

When I think about how we are living right now, I can’t help but feel like we’re living in a prolonged version of the intercalary days. That we are living in a time outside of time. What does it mean to live in a time outside of time? To get a better idea, I decided to take a look at how the intercalary days were viewed in antiquity. There isn’t a lot of specific information on the intercalary days, but the information that I had feels applicable to what we’re dealing with now.

The intercalary days are said to exist outside of the year, and that makes them peculiar. While many modern Kemetics don’t seem to attribute any sort of eeriness to these days, in antiquity, they were often seen as a time of trepidation. I suspect that this has both a mythological and a more “mundane” component to it. From a mythological perspective, Nut was ready to give birth, but couldn’t until these days were created specifically for her and her needs. Child birth is inherently dangerous, especially before the modern era. It stands to reason that both the aspect of “this is a limited window of time to do something that another being doesn’t want me to do” and “this is childbirth and that is risky to my health” could have played a role in interpreting these days as being inherently apprehensive.

But there is also the mundane aspect of where these days fall within the seasons of ancient Egypt. Situated at the end of the dry season, these days were often fraught with some amount of unease. The dry season was often a time of rationing and careful planning of resources. Since nothing substantial could be grown during this period, and there was limited amounts of water as the riverbed becomes dryer and dryer under the summer heat, the Egyptians knew that they needed to be careful how they utilized their resources until the inundation came. So as the dry season inches onward through the summer, resources become more and more scarce, and with that, an increase in concerns about the future. Will the inundation come? Will we have enough to survive until we can plant more food? Will we get through the summer without illness?

There is also the simple fact that these days manage to exist outside of the year somehow. That ultimately makes them a liminal time and space, a threshold between the old and the new.

To me, where many of us are living now fits very well with the views of the intercalary days from antiquity. Things are abnormal. Our patterns are broken or augmented in ways we’re not used to. Things are not reliably available to many of us, and there is no guarantee that things will be reliably available to many of us anytime soon. There are fears of illness, hunger, and a lack of resources. There is a lot of trepidation in the air. We are stuck between how things were, and an unclear future that has yet to fully manifest.

And that is the most important thing to keep in mind as we navigate through this set of prolonged intercalary days: they may be fraught with danger, but they are also ripe for inducing unforeseen change (both good and bad). There is a lot of instability with our system right now. This is scary and terrifying, but it is also the best time possible to incur long-lasting change that gives people more resources to live and thrive once everything is said and done. Liminal times and spaces don’t follow the rules of what is expected. They are the edges that exist where two systems or spaces meet, and these spaces are known for their intense biodiversity and bending of the rules.

You can see this in the original myth that defined the intercalary days, too. Re didn’t want Nut to give birth because he knew that her children would invoke a regime change. It would incur a new way of life for all of the NTRW, and he didn’t want to see that happen. Every year, the intercalary days are meant to be an intense time of chaos before everything resets and ma’at is restored anew during Wep Ronpet.

These liminal spaces are meant for change and transformation. This liminal space will likely be no different, but the question becomes: what sort of change will we fight for?

 

For the first time in a long time, retail and food workers (among others) have the means to potentially leverage their position to gain workers rights and benefits that were due to them forever ago. There are people trying to push state governments to utilize vacant housing to give the homeless shelter during these challenging times. There is an entirely new wave of people talking about classism and how class intersects with politics and daily living in new places that I haven’t seen in the past. There are people who are starting to see that if there is a time to start pushing for hard-hitting change, this is it.

On nearly every video or post that I’ve read regarding COVID, it seems like the conclusion always ends up with some sort of “if we all band together, things will be okay!” and I don’t want that to be the case with my post because its simply not true. There are people who will not survive this. There are people whose lives will be irreversibly changed by this. This situations is bad, and this is merely a post about the potential tiny silver lining of a really bad situation. Many people have had their entire life thrown into turmoil because of this, and I certainly don’t want to make it sound like their suffering is “worth it” if it means potential change, because that’s not the case.

Instead what I am trying to suggest is that perhaps the means to insure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen again is within our grasp, and if it is, we should do what we can to make that happen. Because while the intercalary days are a mere five days of uncanny discomfort, we are more likely to be stuck in this liminal space for months, if not a full year and some change (vaccines aren’t expected to be ready for about 18 months, which is when pandemics usually recede.) Things will be unsteady for a while yet, and our best chance of survival will come from mutual aid that we give one another during these difficult times.

I think it is imperative that we look at the conversations being had, and consider what we could be doing during this time in relation to the changes going on around us. To look for those ripples of change, and to see if there are other things we could put our backing into that would help other fellow humans have an easier time of it on this rock — both within this liminal time, and beyond it. It is the responsibility of all of us to help maintain and foster ma’at, and from what I can tell — there are a whole lot of opportunities being made for increasing ma’at right now even in the face of overwhelming isfet.

And I think we should do everything in our power to seize those opportunities and create a world we want to live in.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2020 in Kemeticism, Making Ma'at

 

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A Proposed Model for Determining Ma’at vs. Isfet

Before you read this post, you need to read the first and second parts of this series, otherwise nothing will make sense.

So far, I’ve talked about how ma’at is like a regenerative system, which is a living series of processes that will renew and regenerate themselves provided their unique balance is maintained. Some examples of regenerative systems in daily life are ecosystems or your body. In opposition to this is isfet, which is what happens when disorder overtakes a regenerative system and makes it degenerative. Degenerative systems are not sustainable and tend to destroy the balance of other nearby systems. In this post, I’d like to discuss how we can use this model to determine if something we’re doing is more in alignment with isfet or ma’at.

Using this Model

So now we’re at the most important part of this whole discussion. We’ve laid the framework for understanding:

  • how systems work
  • how ma’at aligns with regenerative systems
  • how disorder tests the resiliency of a system
  • how too much disorder will put your regenerative balance is at risk
  • how isfet is an embodiment of degradation of natural systems.

Now comes the time for bringing it all together so that we can better reflect on our own actions and whether they relate to isfet, ma’at, or somewhere in between.

The reason that viewing ma’at as a system was so revolutionary for me was because it made it so much easier to understand if something was actually aligning with ma’at or not — because we’re using very concrete terms. Many times, I’ve found that people want to distort ma’at into being something that is relatively passive, or ultimately doesn’t require the person to really change or grow. To summarize this model for ma’at, it would be: if it bothers me, it’s isfet. If it doesn’t bother me, it’s ma’at.

However, by establishing that ma’at is like a particular thing that has a particular set of needs that must be met in order to be maintained, it really allows us to examine whether the things we do in our lives actually lives up to those needs, regardless of our own biases or feeling. By using a structure that can be clearly defined, it removes at least a portion of our bias, and allows us to be more objective in our assessment of ma’at. It also allows us to be very succinct when describing it.

Put succinctly: if something is pushing multiple systems towards degeneration, it’s likely aligned with isfet. If something pushes multiple systems towards regeneration, it’s likely aligned with ma’at.

For example, humans need several things to really survive and be healthy. Things such as:

  • Access to nutritious food, shelter, clean clothing (you’ll note, all of these are markers of having lived in ma’at in antiquity)
  • Access to healthy and supportive relationships. Humans are social creatures, and we need some amount of social interaction to be healthy.
  • Ability to self-express in a fashion that doesn’t hurt others (directly or otherwise)
  • Ability to be autonomous over our own choices and decisions, the feeling of having some control over your life and future.

So, if these things are all necessary for human systems to be healthy, then we know that anything that directly opposes these things is isfetian in nature.

Caveats: Frequency, Context, Scope, and Scale

Now, of course, there is some grey area in here. There are a few other considerations that must be applied when determining whether something is truly isfetian or ma’atian; things such as frequency, context, scope.

Frequency is about as straightforward as it sounds. That whole bit about disorder being the beginning of the sliding towards ultimately unraveling (isfet) means that a singular action isn’t necessarily going to lead you straight into isfet-town. For example, I know that fast food is really bad for my health. It is ultimately a degenerative force in my life. However, if I choose to eat it occasionally, it’s not likely going to qualify 100% as isfet in my specific system. Why? Because I’ve enacted moderation.

There are always places where we can have little exceptions to the moderation that marks our daily life. In antiquity, this is largely the role that festivals and holidays performed. They allowed people to let loose and let go for a short period of time before they fell back into the regularity of daily life. In our modern era, this isn’t always the case, and I’ve found that many of us are constantly living on the edge of making decisions that ultimately undo our efforts to thrive.

In short, frequency is the difference between engaging in a damaging behaviour in moderation vs. engaging in it all the time. Its the difference between eating something that’s bad for you once a month vs. every day. The frequency is vital to keep in mind when considering whether something is damaging or not. The less often you engage in damaging activities, the less likely they are to evoke an isfetian reaction in your specific system (aka your body and/or life.)

The context and scale of an action should also be considered, because it turns out that changing the scope or context of an action often will change whether its damaging or not — and that’s mostly because we live in a degenerative system. For example, let’s take the fast food thing mentioned above. On a small scale, when I’m really only thinking about how it effects me and me alone, it’s relatively harmless when in moderation. However, on a large scale, one might consider the act of giving your money to a fast food establishment isfetian. Why? Because many of these establishments treat their employees horribly. They engage in practices that degrade people’s lives by purposefully underpaying them and denying them access to necessary resources. Many of these companies engage in practices that wreck the environment, they lobby for legislation that allows them to get away with bad practices, and most of these companies aren’t putting much beneficial energy back into the world.

There is a phrase, “there is no ethical consumption under capitalism,” and that’s truly visible when using this model. When it comes to most larger systems, such as supply chains, economies, and governments — nothing is currently sustainable, and as such, is degenerative in nature (as I mentioned in previous posts.) The context of every action is important, because I think it’s vital that we remember that so much of our day to day lives are built on practices that are not sustainable (aka degenerative), and often hurt marginalized countries and peoples the hardest. While a singular act on a small scale is relatively harmless, when considering the full scope of the process of that act even being available to you — the true harm often comes into focus.

This, of course, muddies the water because it can be ethically confusing to determine how on earth to do anything without putting energy into an inherently isfetian system, but that’s also why engaging in activism, being politically active, and holding those in positions of power accountable is all the more important. I would argue that not doing so leans you towards isfet, because it means you’re choosing to ignore the degenerative systems that are eating away at the regenerative system that is you.

And please bear in mind: sometimes the ma’atian choice, the course of action that honors the regenerative nature in you and others, will be painful or difficult. Many people want to equate ma’at to the path of least resistance, and I am here to tell you that this is often not the case. That’s why its very important to really examine all of the aspects of a given course of action to ensure you’re not copping out due to fear of the new and unknown.

Useful Questions to Consider

Here are some examples of questions that can be asked when trying to determine whether a large-scale system is regenerative or not:

  • Will this legislation/action/structure degrade human lives?
  • Will it cause people to lose their autonomy?
  • Will it degrade the community and connections that people have?
  • Will it restrict access to healthy food, clean water, adequate housing and healthcare?
  • Will it oppress or hold back a particular group of people (please keep in mind that leveling the playing field between classes or races is not oppression)?
  • Does it rely on a biased system/structure to reinforce it?
  • Does it needlessly destroy nature?
  • Does it endanger natural resources and living things?
  • Does it destroy or threaten other regenerative systems?
  • Does it lead us closer to things like climate change or fascism?

And in case its not clear yet, if the answer to these is yes, it’s isfetian in nature.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself when trying to determine whether a small-scale interaction is regenerative or not:

  • Does this harm my health?
  • Does this hurt my relationships or those around me needlessly?
  • Does this incite self-hatred or acts of violence or abuse against the self?
  • Will this cause you regret or shame later on?
  • Does this hinder my or others growth, however painful?
  • Would those who care about you condone this choice?

Of course, sometimes these things are not clear cut, and that’s why its important to always consider the wider context of a situation as discussed above.

If you’ve managed to make it through all three posts, I congratulate you. If you have any questions or would like to suggest any other means of refining this model, I welcome them!

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2020 in Kemeticism

 

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A Year of Rites: Reflections, Redirections

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

Making Ma’at

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

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

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

Year of Rites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what now?

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

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

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

And I’m really stuck on that.

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

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


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

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

 

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Eating a Mystery

A few weeks ago I was getting ready for my shower when I suddenly got this memo that went something like “don’t forget that you need to be preparing for the Mysteries this year.” It struck me as odd, since I haven’t really done anything for the Year of Rites since October, and for the NTRW to not harp me on that, but instead decide I needed to perform the Mysteries really seemed out of character.

I asked the “memo” what I needed to focus on for the Mysteries, and I received one line, it said “Glorify your father.

In the matter of a few seconds, my brain raced in several directions with this. First off, the word father really seemed highlighted to me, and there are two reasons for that. First is the mythological component. Osiris’ myths are frequently centered on Horus and his quest to avenge his father and take back what’s his. Second, you’ve got the historical context in that every Osiris relies on his eldest son to give him a proper funeral and to maintain his cult to at least some degree. Both of these aspects would place me in the role of Horus glorifying my father, and have fairly straight-forward heka connotations.

But what really caught me was the third place my brain went.

While I understand that the NTRW can use familial terms for some people, it’s never been the case for me. Further, if there was a NTR out there that I would use familial terms with, it certainly isn’t Osiris. But there is another person that frequently gets labeled specifically as father (as opposed to “dad” or some other similar label, it’s always father) and that would be good ol’ Father-Lover. Would I need to incorporate aspects of my rebirth/rebuilding process into this? Or perhaps more accurately — had the NTRW decided to insert themselves into my process without letting me know? I wasn’t pleased with the idea.

Between all of these concepts, though, there is one vein of similarities: you become your father.

Ultimately, the reason Osiris gets it on with Aset is largely to make sure that he continues on through his son. Ultimately, the son and father overlap and become one mythologically speaking (hence Bull of His Mother) and so in some respects, I would argue that you could potentially interchange the two to some extent. And when it comes to Father-Lover, well, its just that we are literally the same being spread across two forms. We are ultimately one and the same on some level or another.

So I began to mull on this. If glorifying my father ultimately ends up glorifying myself… what would glorification look like? The word “glorify” means to praise or present admirably, perhaps unjustifiably so. It is what nearly every Kemetic ritual aims to do — to beautify the NTRW in the hopes that they will remain gracious to us. It is also through this process of glorification that we ensure that the rhythmic needs of the Duat are sustained and maintained. Re needs to go into the Duat each night, he needs to push back a/pep each day, he and Osiris need to meet in order to revitalize the Duat and its residents. Just like nature, everything has a rhythm and a cycle. Part of our end of the deal is performing the rituals and doing the acts that sustain these cycles.

To consider this concept on myself, we all need a healthy attitude about ourselves. We would all lead more fulfilling and less-miserable lives if many of us weren’t constantly being self-defeating or putting ourselves down. To glorify yourself would ultimately mean to feed into your inherent regenerative nature. And so I asked myself what would help sustain me most?

I then switched back to considering the historical contexts of glorifying your father — what do akhu value most from their families? What do we often see most often for helping the akhu? And the answer I came back with was:

The voice offering, in my opinion, is the quintessential akhu rite out there. There are lots of people who know nothing about Kemeticism, but know about the “thousands of beer, bread, and every good thing” voice offering that was left to the akhu of the necropolis. The most important thing a son could do for his father was to offer the basic necessities of life so that his father could continue to live in the Duat. And when I think about what the best offering that you could give would be, I thought of the foreleg. The foreleg is, by far, the piece de resistance in the Opening the Mouth ceremony. Everything in the ritual crescendos when you pull out the choice cut of meat and offer all of its contained vitality to the statue/mummy.

I thought to myself, could I offer myself the foreleg instead? Could I offer it to both of us simultaneously?

One of the suggestions after my post about my eating issues interfering with being able to offer to the gods regularly was the idea of drawing foods, and offering the drawing. In response to this, I began to offer my paper foreleg amulet to the NTRW as a stand-in meal. And so the connection between the foreleg and the offering of foods went full circle, and I thought to myself “what if I offer a meal to myself every day? So that instead of doing offerings at a shrine that are couched inside of a larger ritual, the act of feeding myself becomes the ritual.” And in response, I heard “what if you did it three times per day?” (since, you know, we’re supposed to eat three meals a day.)

So I guess that means I’m eating three times per day for the Mysteries.

I admit, this is strange to me. It feels like a cop out, like I’m just using something I “already do,” and saying that it’s a good replacement for “proper rituals” at a shrine, as I have been doing all year. But to cite that post I mentioned above: I don’t really eat regularly. Or at least, I don’t eat as regularly as I should. So it’s actually quite a challenge for me, since I won’t be able to eat depression meals and call it a day. Even though it feels like a cop out, it’s going to actually be a challenge for me to do this for any length of time.

I decided I needed to check through other means to make sure that I was on the right track, and the response I got was so direct and straightforward that it was hard to deny the answer, so I guess this means I’m eating three times per day for the Mysteries. Which O dictated that it’s to be a month, as it’s always been. So I’m eating three times per day for a month. I’m sure that’ll be riddled with success.

The general idea of how this is supposed to go is that I’m to treat each meal as an event that requires my full attention. I’m to focus on myself, the food I’m eating, and try not to let myself get super distracted by the Internet, my phone, thoughts, or what have you. The meals need to have enough substance to them that they can be called meals. So for example, just eating a piece of bread and walking away is not good enough. It needs to big enough to fill me up (a challenge.)

The biggest question I am left with when it comes to doing this is the following: when we typically do rituals, there is a layer of separation involved. You offer to the gods, separate from you, and then you take the food into yourself afterwards. The path is outwards (to the gods) then inwards (when you eat it.) But what happens when you skip the outwards part? What happens when both the offering and the consuming are done in one step, at the same time, with both parties being overlapped? And is O doing this because he wants me to take care of myself, or is he wanting me to do this because of the overlap I just mentioned?

I guess we’ll see.

 

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Ancient Egyptians Didn’t Have Disordered Eating

If there is a problem that has plagued my ritual work for years, it’s my disordered eating. And while I know that there is no absolute way to determine whether ancient Egypt had disordered eating present or not, I feel pretty confident in my guess that it wasn’t a prolific problem, if it existed at all. For those of you who are unaware, disordered eating is technically a sort of eating disorder, its just that there isn’t a particular name for the way that your eating is not healthy or “normal.” Many people have disordered eating and don’t realize it — potentially as many as 3 out of every 4 Americans have it, and for many of us, its a byproduct of our mental health and the unhealthy culture that we’re forced to live in.

For me specifically, my disordered eating is often a byproduct of my depression and stress levels. When my depression skyrockets in a particular way, I often don’t feel like eating — even if I’m hungry. Most things sound completely unappetizing, and when I force myself to eat I often end up with stomach aches or meltdowns as a result. This, of course, is a problem if you’re doing ritual work because our ritual structure mandates that you offer something to eat to the NTRW. I have yet to see a single Kemetic ritual that doesn’t include food offerings as a staple chapter.

And I mean, why not? Food is great (I guess?), it’s what keeps us alive, and supposedly the NTRW help us to grow is so that we can sustain ourselves with it. But it’s a huge problem if you can’t bring yourself to eat.

Years ago, I sought to bypass the disordered eating by using votive offerings instead. I bought a bunch of ReMent and used that to fill my offering plates for many many years. Even if I couldn’t bring myself to eat, I could bring myself to give the NTRW replicas of what I was supposed to be eating. I could offer them more in terms of number and quantity than I could ever do with actual food. It allowed me to let go of the stress around food and just focus on being present.

Of course, people did not like the idea. I’ve read everything from “that’s half-assing it” to “if you give the NTRW ‘fake’ offerings, they’ll give you fake blessings in return.” And so I’ve always ended up having a mixed relationship with my votive offerings because years and years of being told that they aren’t good enough will eventually leave you feeling like they aren’t good enough.

And so when I finally could eat again, because my health issues had reached a certain level of improvement, I told myself that I should try to use real food and not votive offerings. I created a sort of “rule” in my head that votive offerings are only for people who can’t offer “real” food (not that I’d ever place that rule on someone else. It was only ever directed at me.) And so I packed them away and tried not to use them. Fast forward a few years to my Year of Rites project where I told myself I would use real food for the entire thing because I knew I should eat, could eat, and needed to eat. And therefore, should try to use my ritual work to motivate myself to eat better and regularly.

And I guess it’s worked so far. If you read through what few updates I’ve given, or parse through the images that I used to take, you’ll see that offerings were still a problem for me. I can’t tell you how many rituals get put off until the end of the day because I couldn’t force myself to cook or eat early enough to do things at a reasonable time, or how many times I just grabbed a piece of convenience snacking material to offer instead. But the more important point is that I was managing up until August.

I want to preface this with a certain level of “I knew this would happen.”

As my grandfather lay on his death bed, I could overhear my mother telling the handful of people that were there with us that she really wanted to make sure that people checked up on me for the next few weeks. She was worried that I would fall apart after he died, and seemingly was trying to be proactive or something. I remember trying to meet these people halfway, letting them know that my depression would likely stave itself for a month or two, and that if people were really concerned, they’d make sure that they came around in a month or two, because that’s when I’d likely actually need the help. My emotions take time to process. My disassociation takes time to wear off so that I can feel what I’m actually feeling.

It took a while to kick in, but I noticed that by the end of August, my eating was beginning to slip. I blamed it on a new medical protocol I was trying, and hoped that my appetite would return.

But it hasn’t. And I’m not really surprised about it. Just as I had told those people — it takes time for my grief to process, and so the depression took a bit to really settle in.

Each day that there is a ritual scheduled, I feel this sort of dread or aversion in my stomach. To know that not only do I need to come up with something to offer the gods, I need to actually eat it, and I need to prepare it at such a time that I will have the time to perform the ritual, but also won’t lose my desire to eat whatever it is by the time my ritual work is done (for example, if I take a break while eating, I often lose all desire to finish my meals. I eat to reduce my stomach pain, and once that’s even mildly resolved, I often quit eating.)

When you combine this with how much I absolutely can’t stand this last batch of rubrics I made, you’ve got a recipe for not doing many rituals. So far I’ve only missed three rites this year (they were all execrations. Execrations feel like the world’s biggest waste of time and involve finding a place to start a fire and smelling like smoke and I’d just rather not most days,) but I can tell that this last quarter will be the hardest because I hate the words and I hate the food. There are other factors at play as well, but I still feel that these are the largest components to why I’m avoidant of doing ritual work right now.

So this begs to ask — what does one do about this? After this year’s worth of work, I honestly have a lot of criticism of people’s assumptions about how rituals should be set up, how often one should be able to do them, what they should consist of, how much we should be maintaining ancient practices, etc. But even if we don’t get into analyzing traditional ideas of what Kemetic rituals entail, it still really needs to be asked: what do we do about disordered eating? It’s quite clear that the ancient Egyptians didn’t have this particular hurdle to overcome, and so it’s something that we modern practitioners need to answer for ourselves, and possibly for our community.

Votive offerings seemed to be a solid alternative, but at the same time, there is a lot of moral baggage that comes with using them. You risk being ostracized or criticized by your fellows, and that just leads to more dysfunction for a person. The other alternative is to not offer food at all, or perhaps give only a voice offering — but both of these are also rife with chastisement and belittling within our community (have I mentioned recently how much I hate our community? I hope this post gives a little peek as to some of the reasons why) and I know that I often feel like voice offerings are not “enough.” It would feel weird to sit at my shrine and just say words and not perform any ritual actions that mirror the words. So, from what I can tell, no clear alternative exists that won’t evoke feelings of shame because it results in at least a portion of our community putting someone down for using it or doing it.

So I ask you all, how do we get around this? What is the best solution? How do we modify ritual structures for modern problems such as this? Is there even an alternative that anyone can take that doesn’t result in being shat on? Because so far, the answer feels a lot like a no.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2019 in Kemeticism, Rambles, Year of Rites

 

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Ma’at was Always Political

This week sat received an ask, wherein the inquirer states that “Ma’at was made so political.” It really stuck out to me, because as far as I can tell, ma’at was always political. When you look at the definition of “politics,” at the very very bottom, you get “use of intrigue or strategy in obtaining any position of power or control, as in business, university, etc.” which might seem antithetical to ma’at, right?

I don’t know many folks who would think it is within ma’at to “obtain any positions of power or control.” I say this because it’s not uncommon for members of our community to assume that anyone with any amount of social following or clout is somehow looking to become a megalomaniac or a cult leader. The mistrust that our community has with power is warranted, but it’s not historically informed when it comes to ma’at itself.

Ma’at is intrinsically tied to kingship in ancient Egypt. There are no two ways around that, and I don’t think I should have to lay out historical data to prove that the king used legitimacy and ritual to show the whole of Egypt that he was the divine ruler, the Horus here on earth that was meant to maintain ma’at for the entire country. So if we’re looking from a historical aspect, ma’at is defacto tied to politics. Sometimes ma’at was used to do good things, like help members of other countries in need, and other times she was used to do bad things, like start wars to gain control of people’s resources.

Of course, just because ma’at was tied to politics in the past doesn’t mean that it has to be tied to politics now, right? Well, I think it depends on what you’re cherry picking from our resources in order to form your argument. To make it easy, let’s pick one of the most widely-accepted tenets of ma’at: giving food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, a boat to the boatless. All three of these things are considered very ma’atian acts to perform. Did you know that giving food to the hungry is an arrestable offense in many places? Same goes for clothing, if you’re giving it to the wrong person. Your “not political” act just suddenly got political. It’s almost as if living under an authoritative government means that politics has a say over almost all aspects of your life, it’s shocking.

So that got me thinking, if anon wasn’t trying to say that ma’at was political, what else could they be trying to say?

If I’m being honest, I don’t think it’s that our anonymous asker was somehow lost on the fact that ma’at was originally political, no. I think it’s that this anonymous asker believes that people like me are politicizing ma’at, which is a very subtle, but important distinction. Because when most people think you’re politicizing something, they believe that you are taking something and trying to use it to gain power and promote a specific bias.

You see this in our society through things like the anti-vaxx movement, climate change, reproductive rights, etc. where a particular group tries to call into question the validity of data or information presented about a topic by going “but they’re trying to politicize it so that they can push their [inaccurate] bias.” What’s interesting is that most of these things are slanted towards the right side of the political spectrum. Which is to say that it’s mostly right-leaning people who have taken these topics that apply to everyone, and decided that they’re not actually that important to fight, fix, or fund. But instead of being honest about it, its sexier to imply that the “other side” is just politicizing (read: lying about) the whole thing. Yes, these things could be considered inherently unpolitical, but because of the world we live in, they are anything but.

So ultimately, when you see someone trying to tell someone else that they’re politicizing something that isn’t “inherently political,” you’re likely watching someone indirectly try to shut down the conversation about a topic (because it makes them uncomfortable.) To pull a good quote (cw: rape mention, victim blaming used as an example):

Words like “political” then are a means of controlling when (perhaps even if) we will allow discussion of some issues and what the nature of that discussion can be. Silence on issues like homosexual rights, sexual assault, climate change, and war all promote the status quo. If we don’t talk about homosexuals, then they remain deviant. If we don’t talk about sexual assault, then it remains a private problem of a few isolated women (who might have been “asking for it” anyway). If we don’t talk about climate change, then we can keep consuming and polluting without feelings of guilt. If we don’t talk about war, then the gears can keep spinning. In addition, by limiting tax-exempt organizations to discussing things that are “not political”, we keep them from pointing to problems in society as the cause of the issues they address. They can feed the hungry, but they can’t call for the end of the root cause of hunger in an extremely wealthy nation: wealth inequality. (x)

And therein lies the crux of the problem. Our anonymous asker is assuming that people like me have taken ma’at, an innocent pure bystander, and turned it into a weapon to convert people to our way of thinking. But the truth of the matter is, ma’at has always been what she is, and most of those who aren’t living on a couch of privilege understand that that means she’s political and that the concept ends up being inherently politicized. If anything, I didn’t change ma’at, ma’at changed me — which is how its supposed to work when you convert to a religion.

Existence is inherently political for all of us (only if you care about the health and well-being of other people, of course.) Our governments can, and will, do horrible things to people if left unchecked. We are all overseen by governmental structures that can do said horrid things, so to be able to be blind about what is going on on a governmental level (aka “not political”) is a luxury that only the most protected members of society can rely (aka rich white people, if you’re living in America.) There is a phrase that says that the ability to “not be political” is a sign of privilege, and this is exactly why. There is only a small, narrow portion of our community that isn’t a part of a marginalized group, and as such, it should be a given that politics will bleed into discussions on how best to live one’s life in ma’at. The marginalized members of our community shouldn’t be asked to hide parts of their lived experience simply because more-privileged members of our community are being made uncomfortable. Nor should they be forced to share their religious community with people who deny their (marginalized people) lived experience simply because they don’t want to explore how their own inherent bigotry is actually bad and should be changed.

So in conclusion, if we are to use ma’at to inform our decision-making and actions in our lives, and if most of us are living inherently politicized lives, then it stands to reason that ma’at was destined to be tied to politics, even in the modern era. Yes, you can choose to ignore this fact because it makes you uncomfortable, but I think the bigger question should be: why would you want to?

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2019 in Kemeticism, Making Ma'at, Rambles

 

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Devo’s Burninatin’ Celebration 2019

I really don’t know if I should be using the same title that I did in the past for my big community execration that occurred at Wep Ronpet, but it felt weird to call it anything else, so I chose to use the same title for old time’s sake. I haven’t performed any Wep Ronpet rites since 2016, and the best part about the rites I did in 2016 is that I can’t remember anything about them. If it wasn’t for the fact that I documented them in a post, I would seriously have forgotten nearly everything about them. Memory and autoimmune diseases are fun like that.

This is the first Burninatin’ Celebration that I’ve done without Set at the helm, and without community involvement. For the first time ever (for me,) O was calling the shots and ritual work played a heavy focus for nearly every aspect of the holiday. The man seems to like to keep you busy, too, because despite the original dictation of “do what you think is best,” I soon found that he had his own laundry list of things I should be doing for each of the days.

Osiris is a diva, let it be known.

Epag Day 1: Osiris

The key words that were generated for O’s ritual were: growth, renewal, and grains. I couldn’t help but feel like there was a push to focus on his vegetative nature, and specifically, the relationship between plants and the sun. So I went with it. The morning of his day, I noticed that I had a memo to create art for him to use in the ritual, as well as “you should write about this thing over here.” Of course, I didn’t know if this meant that it was expected of me to do this for every epagomenal day, or if O was just trying to be Super Special, but as I’m sure you all know by now, I opted to just try and hit all of the same points for every epgaomenal day afterwards.

I struggled with his art piece, shifting between trying to draw a version of him, and drawing something more abstract. Most everything I started off with was very literal or related to a physical form and symbolism, but I eventually was able to break into something a little bit more abstract and got the idea to do palm trees with akh stars in the background. The white box was there in every version that I created, though I’m not sure what exactly it’s supposed to mean. I only know that it feels like the stuff on the outside is supposed to be similar to the Nun.

It’s worth noting that no other deity was so difficult to convey in an abstract form. I’m not sure what to make of that other than perhaps Osiris is really tied to his physical form in a way that other NTRW are not.

Epag Day 2: Heru-Wer

Poor Heru-Wer. His day was the definition of a cluster. I had to get up early and drag feral cats to get spayed. I had to go get groceries and send things out for wrapping up grandpa’s affairs. I didn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to him, and I personally think it shows. The words originally chosen for his ritual theming were repair, restoration, finding place, completion. Unlike O, he had absolutely no druthers about anything regarding his ritual structure or the contents therein. Its about the same as the direction for his post. It was vague and probably could have been nothing more than a footnote in this very post, but I personally wish he got more attention, and so I wanted to make sure he had a place within the week of posts that was coming.

So I haphazardly attempted to convey what he had given me, and I wish I could rewrite the post, because I could do so much more with it now that it’s sat in my head for a week, but I was trying to ride with Osiris’ encouragement to stay within the present day and to not focus on “working ahead” so that I could ensure that deadlines were met. I think the idea was to get lost in the experience and not focus on the potential “failing” of a deadline, but that’s really hard when you’re me and your brain is operating on a third of what it used to.

His picture had direction, but my skill level wasn’t what it needed to be in order to make it what I saw in my head. The image is supposed to be of a ridge of either sand or mountains, perhaps a canyon, in the foreground. And the upper portion of the image was to be a multicolored sunset that was vibrant and bright. But the more I tried to layer on color, the more muddy it got, so I let it be and I hope he isn’t too sad about it.

Unlike most of the other NTRW, Heru-Wer did actually convey imagery and emotions to me throughout the art making and ritual process. Despite our distance in terms of regular contact, he is surprisingly open with me whenever I actually attempt to show up. Again, I don’t know what to make of that.

Epag Day 3: Set

The day I was looking forward to the least. The entire process of trying to get anything from Set on what to do for his ritual (or his anything) has been challenging. Because his day was in the middle of the epag days, and because it was the same day that my Monthly Ma’at ritual would have occurred, I chose to make ma’at his theming, since his energies are best utilized when in alignment with ma’at anyways.

The day itself was very fitting for him. The weather was abnormally cool, we had just had a night of storms and so it was lightly raining and cloudy most of the day. When I first tried to prod Set for topics for his post, the only response I originally got was an old song that played during one of our first known encounters. It’s a song that I don’t particularly like anymore, but liked it a lot when I was a kid and was still into country music. The song played and played inside of my head for hours, and I began to question if I would be able to figure anything out fast enough to actually make a post about it. I have no clue if the song playing was more a case of him playing coy, or if actually wanted me to write about the song itself. My biggest concern was ultimately that I didn’t think anyone would care about a post where I prattle on about how the song is largely tied to emotions, and how I have dodged his emotions for years for reasons I don’t fully understand.

I’m fully aware that the complicated and messy state of our relationship underpinned every aspect of his day because we’ve been in this awkward staring-from-a-distance stance for a few years now. I first noticed sometime last year that his statue was still relatively open and functional in comparison to everyone else who seemingly had wrapped up shop and closed the door because I wasn’t home anymore. Every time I walk past the cabinet where his statue currently lives, I feel the eyes on me. I’m completely and utterly aware that despite the fact that he has been “gone,” he has been keeping tabs the entire time.

This is further complicated by my recent departure from pretty much every aspect of what me and Set worked on once upon a time. The fact that I’m currently doing work for O, and that I don’t know how much mingling or interacting Set and I are even supposed/allowed to have at the moment. Everything about “us” is currently kinda weird and not stable, and I think it bled into everything I tried to do for him.

I wrote four posts on his day. Only one went out to be read, and the others will languish in my drafts bin until I get tired of looking at them and delete them. I wanted to piggy back off of SGI’s post because it was a good one, and it was ultimately their post that helped me decide to actually post something, even if it wasn’t great. I admit that the lack of response to Heru Wer’s post left me questioning if doing daily posts for a week was somehow a Bad Idea, but again, I was trying to lean into what O wanted. So here we are.

His art was very abstract and very straightforward. When I was done with it, it reminded me a lot of the fiery pits that are said to exist in the Duat, they are places where people who are not in alignment with ma’at will be burned by the fire, but those who are pure enough will be rejuvenated by the fire.

Unlike everyone else, I got the urge to place his statue onto the shrine surface while doing his ritual. When I got the image of what to do, it was like someone sitting on their couch with their soda in their left hand, their popcorn in their right hand, soaking in the light of the tv. So that’s why his statue is facing away from me in the image.

Epag Day 4: Aset

Ever since reading the CT for my year of rites work, I’ve found I have way too many feelings and identifications with Aset for my preferences. Once upon a time she had ventured forward, and I suppose I no longer really question why. There’s too much overlap in our histories for us to not have at least some things in common. Her ritual key words were acceptance, abundance, and new beginnings, and most of her ritual rubric flowed way more freely than the others. For whatever reason, there is a clear power shift within her ritual that is different from everyone else’s. Make of that what you will.

Her art piece came forward quite clearly. I had two scrap pieces left over from some of the week’s earlier art, and for whatever reason, it seemed that I should use two of the pieces to create what is essentially one piece of art. My ability to get the art just so was limited by my technique. The purple isn’t as deep and royal as I wanted, and I wanted there to be more depth in the spiral, but I couldn’t make it happen.

 

Her post almost didn’t happen, either. My mother was over for most of the day, and I find it very hard to concentrate or work when she’s here, so I had to wait until the evening hours to even really sit down and think about what to write. I suppose in some respects because she’s so prolific, it can be challenging to figure out which aspect to write about because there are so many options to choose from. But I also expect that part of my difficulties laid in the fact that my relating to her is still too close to home right now. It’s hard for me to branch out beyond “it hurts to lose someone,” and to try and find something more empowering or uplifting that fit in with the overall theming of the week was a bit challenging because of where I’m at mentally. But it eventually got done.

Epag Day 5: Nebhet

Nebhet is always an enigma for me. Any year I’ve celebrated the epagomenal days, she’s always been quite vacant or MIA, but she showed up pretty strongly this year. Compared to everyone else, she was the most eager to get started, since I could feel her as early as the night before. I had minor guidance on her ritual work, though it was more of a “here is a picture, use that to drive your rubric,” which only sorta helped. Her key words were peace, stillness, health, and rejuvenation, and the image I received was mostly black/purple and gold. I wanted to include instances of black and gold in the rubric, but I wasn’t sure if it would make sense or be accurate, so I changed things slightly to stay on the safe side. Even now, I have fears of venturing too far out of our traditional safe zones when it comes to rubric creation, and this is a good example of it.

I was met with heavy visions the morning of her day. They were abstract in a lot of ways, but after pouring through what little information I have on Nebhet afterwards, I think I can sort of see what was being shown to me, though I’m not sure what to do with it. There were a million impressions I got about her through these visions, but again, my fear of presenting UPG and it being inaccurate sorta stalled me out from writing about it. I poked and prodded all day to try and see if I could tease a post out of me, but it never happened. She had stated early on in the day that a post wouldn’t be necessary, so I tried to remind myself that I am human, and just dealt with the fact that I didn’t finish what I had started.

I had an idea for her artwork from day one, but when I finally put pen to paper, it changed ever so slightly. Overall, I think I like her piece the most.

I offered her the same grapes that I used for the propitiation at the beginning of the epagomenal days, largely because I was having a bad eating day, and it seemed acceptable to her to give something that represents the food, even if I wasn’t going to eat it (because it’s not edible.)

Wep Ronpet Proper

The actual rites for Wep Ronpet happened a day late for me. The original day they were scheduled ended up turning out pretty awful. I had a really bad mental health day, and it seemed like a bad space to be in for celebrating the new year. So instead, I focused on figuring out what I wanted to execrate the next day, and where I really wanted to go in the next six months.

The next morning I performed the execration bright and early, and followed that up with rituals later on in the day. When I took my usual photo of the shrine at the end of the ritual, I remarked at how similar it looked to all of the other more-regular rituals that I’ve been doing. And honestly, the day wasn’t markedly different or celebrated beyond that, even though it sounded nice in theory. I can’t help but wonder what it means that my brain picked up on the regularity or commonness of such a more Important holiday. I can’t tell if it means I should have done more, or if the point is that the Important holidays are also just regular days, part of a regular thing that repeats itself, well, regularly.

Either way, that was it for this year. If you made it through all 2500 words of this post, you deserve a cookie.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in Kemeticism, Year of Rites

 

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I Have Come, Equipped with Magic

I have always felt as though there was a lot of overlap between Aset and Set, as in their drive and ability to Get What They Want always seemed similar to me. Both deities seem to be willing to kick a devotee into gear by any means necessary in order to get things moving forward. Both have been known to create waves throughout the company of the NTRW, both are capable of fighting off a/pep from the solar barque (fun fact, it’s not just Set who is capable of this,) and both have a way of being a bit subversive in the rules that they choose to follow or not follow. Even Spell 84 in Borghouts states that “her heart was more rebellious than an infinite number of men”, and I don’t know how much more alignment with Setian energy you can get with so much rebellion flowing through your veins.

In many ways, both Set and Aset have very good survival methods, though I posit that they survive and are able to do what they do through very different means. Traditionally, Set is considered a deity of strength and force. As mentioned yesterday, he represents everything that is natural, wild, and out of our control. In terms of tropes, he’s the character that is able to punch his way out of any situation. It is his strength and ability to force change where he needs or wants it to be that allows him to be effective.

Aset, on the other hand, is less about physical force and is more about mental acuity and observation put into action. It’s her ability to read a situation quickly, and know exactly who or what to do or say to shift the tide into her favor that has allowed her to be as successful as she has been. As it happens, I was looking into what causes resiliency and an ability to survive in the face of danger or threat (for Set’s post,) and it turns out that being able to read a situation and make very quick and decisive decisions at the drop of a hat is key to being able to survive despite incredible obstacles. I believe that Aset embodies these aspects of survival.

Regardless of what version of the Osirian myth you read, Aset is always front and center, to facilitate Osiris’ safe transition into his new way of being. It’s also Aset who facilitates Horus’ ability to not only be conceived, but to survive long enough to become King. While it’s true that Aset often utilizes other entity’s powers and abilities to make this happen (such as calling on the NTRW to heal Horus when he is stung by a scorpion, etc.), that is exactly what makes her heka so impressive and formidable.

In many ways, her ability to find the right spaces to pick at, to ask the right questions, create the right alliances or situations to get what she wants — all of these things are forms of her heka, and they are what make her powerful. She doesn’t even necessarily have to do the work — she can say the right things to get you into doing it for her, or set it up in such a fashion where you have no choice but to acquiesce her request.

“Now Isis was a wise woman. Her heart was more rebellious than an infinite number of men, more smart than an infinite number of gods. She was more clever than an infinite number of spirits. There was nothing she was ignorant of in heaven or on the earth- like Re’, who takes care of the needs of the earth.”

When you consider the fact that Aset is the throne, the seat upon which kingship is grounded, it begs to ask if these are the sorts of traits necessary to excel as the King. Of course, you have traits from both Set and Horus, but if you’re not capable of knowing when to use brute strength vs. when to use structures and legality to get what you need, you won’t be very effective at wielding either aspect. To me, it seems that Aset has the means by which to know how and when to utilize the skills of herself and others so that the task gets done quickly and effectively. Having her abilities would give you a firm foundation to utilize any other skills you gained throughout a lifetime.

And if we go back to the concept that each of us is, in our own way, kings within our own lives, it begs to ask if we should be cultivating more of these aspects within ourselves as well. Not necessarily the ability to manipulate people or use people to get what we want (as it is sometimes stated that Aset has done in some myths,) but instead to cultivate and fine-tune our senses, communication, and heka to be more effective in creating beneficial outcomes out of whatever kind of situation you walk into.

There are means to improve our observation skills, and improving those skills will likely open us up to new possibilities, new ideas, new edges to interact with. There are means to become better listeners, better communicators, and better humans that will bring us to be more present with the world around us. When you’re more present, you’re more able to seize opportunity, notice small details, and get what you want out of life. All of these things are embodied by aspects of Aset, and all of these things feed into ma’at. If Aset is the foundation upon which a king sits, then perhaps her skills should be the foundation upon building a more stable life or existence.

I think there is one other key part to really wielding the type of heka that Aset does, and that is the skill of knowing where you are going. When I went to her with my thoughts about the contents of this post, she responded with only thing (and I am paraphrasing), “Knowing how to get what you want is important, but what is it exactly that you want?” I think it bears repeating that we may all know what we don’t want, but there is also power in knowing what we do want. In order to truly tap into her ability to transform a situation, we must have an idea of what we want to transform the situation in to.

Do you feel that you embody Aset’s heka? Do you wish that you did? In what ways would her type of heka be helpful in your life?

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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Lord of Edges

Edges occur where one thing ends and another thing begins. Where land turns into ocean. Where the base of your offering cup rests against the shrine’s surface. Where doorways are. All of these things create edges or boundaries between two things. An edge denotes that you’re shifting from A to B, regardless of whatever A and B might be.

According to edge effect, an edge has an increased biodiversity because it combines elements of both systems that create the edge itself. It becomes an entity unto itself that is different from everything around it. In many ways, I consider this a sort of chaos —  there are so many things occurring and going on from all sides that it can be challenging to tell where the edge begins and ends exactly, much less how all of the moving parts and pieces exist within this narrow ledge of space.

Slowly I’ve become to view Set as a deity of edges. He is the entity that you call (or don’t, honestly) if you’re stuck in a place where you no longer should be, it’s his domain and expertise to know not only when, but how to drag someone from the center of that system and then yeet them across an edge into a new system that is better for them. Of course, the act of transition is rarely that simple or smooth, and that’s what makes it something of a specialty. Osiris demands that you want to be there, but Set will drag you kicking and screaming, whether you like it or not, and that’s where he’s most comfortable. The uncomfortable space where things come together is what he’s used to and best suited for.

Butler refers to Set as “all the wild elements of human nature that resist civilization. Especially in his animal guises, or as the God of storms, Seth embodies the points at which nature itself comes into conflict with the human world, resisting domestication, or the points at which humans seek justification for their exploitation of nature.” In this description, you can begin to see how systems are coming into contact with each other (nature and humans, disorder and order, predictability/control and lack of control)  and how Set shows up in any of those situations where contact occurs. The very touching of two systems creates a space that is ideal for his energy. When humans decided to utilize that energy, they ultimately developed a loophole wherein all of their exploitation can be pinned on Set, which wipes their conscience clean.

I believe that his role as an initiator, a bringer of chaos, a being who brings forth transition, a moving from point A to point B not only involves the manipulation of edges, which is to say that he is able to bring a state of transition closer to a person, but that he’s also able to create edges where the person already is, if needed. If someone is really stuck and refuses to move closer to the threshold of growth, perhaps its within his wheelhouse to be able to bring the threshold of growth to the person.

I expect that these are the moments when he comes in like the Kool Aid Man and just breaks down your living room wall so that you have no choice but to do what is needed. When left unchecked and unbridled, Set’s chaos has the same force that nature has, and it will sweep you up in its current and take you where it wants to regardless of consent. In essence, that is what it’s like to be pulled up into his movements and trials. You’ll be carried along this liminal space between what you knew and what he wants you to know. You’ll rub up against all sorts of new concepts and ideas. You’ll be uncomfortable for a long time. Ideally, you’ll eventually stumble your way through to the other side, stronger for the ride.

In permaculture, maximizing your edges is vital to creating resilient designs that withstand the oncoming horrors of climate change. The more biodiversity that you can introduce into an ecosystem, the better, and you do that by creating as many edges as possible. I spoke in my post earlier this year about how we should increase the edges in our lives so that we could have more diverse experiences and expand our horizons. But I would like to add onto that now to include that I feel that doing so is somewhat leaning into Setian energies, and there is useful heka in that knowledge.

Earlier today SGI wrote about Set and his associations to survival as it relates to climate change. Climate change, in a nutshell, is going to make our weather patterns unpredictable, and it will, by extension, effect every other aspect of the natural world around us because nature uses weather as a form of cyclical regulation. Plants require certain amounts of heat and freeze at specific times in order to produce fruit. Animals rely on markers of humidity, heat, or coolness to determine when to hibernate or mate or what have you.

By shifting the weather, we will be destabilizing and unpredictably altering the systems that we live in because we’re removing their baseline for homeostasis. In many ways, the edges that are familiar to us will become distorted and unfamiliar. Sure, some parts will likely remain somewhat familiar, but we will also be living in the equivalent of nature’s uncanny valley as the patterns we knew change and wobble year to year.

SGI suggested that Set would be the deity par excellence to help get us through these tumultuous times ahead. I agree. Set is all about survival, and he has the capacity to teach a person how to survive. The key here is that I expect that the surviving and the teaching will be more effective and smoother if all of us were more open to being yeeted across those chasms that keep us locked in our inertness. Most of us have no means to fully stop or avoid what is coming in terms of climate change. We can only change how we react to it.

How do you feel when you think about being yeeted into transition? Do you fear it or embrace it? How could you make yourself more open to transition and change?  

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2019 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

I felt bad for Heru-Wer as I went into the epagomenal days. I knew that his day would be chalk full of tasks and errands that needed to get done, and so I knew he wouldn’t get the same level of time or dedication as everyone else, and I felt bad about it. I wanted to try and get a head start on things by working on his stuff yesterday, but O was very big in the “live in the moment, quit trying to work ahead” shtick, and so I waited.

And cue this morning where I’ve been running non-stop and still have barely done anything for Heru-Wer’s birthday.

But sometimes things come in mysterious ways, and here is how today’s arrived: I was sitting in a restaurant and doodling in blank spaces in my bujo. I was working on something that I had placed on July 3, the day grandpa had his stroke. While I had originally considered the text “You can’t stop what’s coming” as being purely related to grandpa because I couldn’t stop the stroke or the incoming downhill slide that occurred, I noticed partway through inking it that it took on a very Setian tone. I joked that perhaps they had swapped days so that Set could minimize any interaction we might have because I’d be too busy to spend time with him. Even though I couldn’t place if it was from a NTR, something about it stuck in my mind. Conveniently, Sat had started to respond to my questions about Heru-Wer around the same time, and the more I mulled about what I associate with Heru-Wer, the more I began to believe that perhaps it was from him.

The best part being that when it was finally all colored in, you get a secret message:

I don’t really work with any of the Herus (Horii?, so my perceptions of him and his associations are pretty limited. The only real things I associate him with are losing an eye, kingship, and protecting the Two Lands. Boundaries and defense are the two words I would use to sum up my knowledge of Heru-Wer specifically, and that is exactly what I wanted to originally talk about today regarding him. But after having drawn this, I want to hone in on what it’s like to be in a position of defense, and knowing you’ll need to defend in the near future.

While I know that most of us are not in any sort of military position that would often be labeled as “defense,” I think that all of us come to points in our lives where we have to defend ourself or others. Ultimately, part of being a healthy and balanced person is knowing when you defend your boundaries and when to draw a line in the sand. If you never defend yourself, you will ultimately end up in unhealthy and abusive relationships. It’s mandatory to know how to defend yourself (and others, in my opinion) properly.

That being said, I think that the worst thing about being in an actively defensive position, or being someone who knows they must defend someone or something else, is that you fully realize that something is coming for you. Even though you know it’s coming, you can’t leave your position, you can’t necessarily avoid it outright. No, instead you must stay the course and wait for the impact that inevitably will occur.

I admit that I hate waiting for the impact. I hate knowing that an impact is coming because my anxiety ramps up in an attempt to prepare for it. I begin to try to think of ways to out maneuver whatever might happen. Ways I can protect myself or others against some semi-unknown future foe. I catastrophize and lowkey panic about what might happen. I waste precious precious energy embracing the idea of the impact instead of just waiting for the impact to arrive and embracing that.

The idea of “you can’t stop what’s coming” was ultimately kind of freeing to me. I found myself in a similar place as when I read the Litany Against Fear: “I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” In a way, it forces me to not only reckon with the fact that something is coming, but it also reminds me of the fact that there’s nothing you can do about it. It reminds me that there is a limit to what I can do, and that there is nothing wrong with accepting that limitation.

In a way, this is a similar conversation to something me and Set used to talk about. He always framed it as “there will always be wolves”, which is to say, there will always be things that seek to hurt you (and so you must always be prepared.) But its rooted in fear and an expectation that there will always be things that are actively coming after you. For me, it makes me feel I need to prepare for everyone to be a wolf. It constantly puts you in a state of hyper-vigilance.

This reframing shifts that perspective for me, though. It puts me back in my body, back in the place where I always live. Back in my skin where I am reminded that limitations are a thing, that we can still have our pleasures (the highlighted text of “can’t stop coming”) despite the fact that we can’t always prevent bad stuff from showing up at our door.

Ironically, its a different aspect of yesterday’s conversation about being inert. Except this time, you’re simultaneously inert and moving. You’re inert because you’re always stuck in your body or stuck in whatever position of defense you need to maintain. And yet, while still being inert in that position of defense, you’re also being moved — usually by whatever you’re defending against. To bring it back more to what I expect would be historically Heru-Wer’s territory, you may need to move around a lot to chase down an infiltrator, to help stop incoming armies or enemies. You have to be agile and quick to get where you need to be to defend whatever needs defending.

But at the same time, everywhere you go, there you are. To some extent, there is a portion of us that is unchanging since our birth. A part of us that is static or inert if you will, and that part will always be carried with us wherever we go. Regardless of what fray we get thrown into, we’re all stuck in our bodies, stuck in the thick of this thing called life. The things around us may change, but we are always stuck where we are — in these really fancy meatsuits.

Ultimately, the thing we (probably should) defend the most in our life is ourselves, the most static and inert thing we own. We can’t stop what’s coming, we can only do our best to prepare for it and have some pleasure in between the waves of life. And there’s probably nothing wrong with that.

I have no clue if that’s what he had in mind when he sent me the doodle, but that’s what I got out of it.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2019 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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