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Working with Gods

Many people in the pagan realm have stated that they have a problem with the phrase “working with gods”. Most of them seem to feel that this is demoting the god to that of a hammer or screwdriver- it is something you pick up to do a job with, and once you’re done, you put the tool back in the tool box. That it turns the gods into tools for us to ‘use’ and simply put away again.

I happen to like the term ‘working with gods’, and I wanted to go into why that is. That way, when you see me use the phrase, you understand what I mean by it.

When I say that I work with Set or Asar, the image that comes to mind is a strong handshake. We are joining together to do work, to create something bigger and better. We are coworkers and peers. Teachers and students- setting out to ‘get some work done’ – together – and to accomplish something. There is no imagery of tools, hammers, nails, etc. It’s just me and them coming together cooperatively to get stuff done.

I know the second most common phrase out there would be worship. I “worship X god”. I don’t particularly care for this phrase, myself. Because worship, in Devo-land, means that you’re a doormat, you are star struck and you follow X entity in whatever it is they say or request. “I worship the ground that she walks on” kind of thing. And while I know that that might not necessarily be the case for all of you, it is the imagery that pops up for me. And because of that, I tend to steer clear of the term ‘worship’. Set is no-nonsense, for sure. But I do have the ability to tell him no (or worse). And for me, worship implies that I couldn’t or wouldn’t ever disagree with what he has in mind. And that just isn’t the case.

I also believe that the phrase ‘working with’ implies that we are on somewhat equal terms (as opposed to the term ‘worship’). Or that there is respect on both sides. We are working in harmony, creating something more, together.

So when you see me use the phrase ‘working with gods’, don’t think of tools, think instead of the picture below: people and deities connected together, and working together to make the world better.

What types of terms do you use to describe your relationship with your god/s? Are there certain terms that you are not comfortable with using?

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Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Kemeticism

 

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Book Review: The Priests of Ancient Egypt


I managed to get a copy of The Priests of Ancient Egypt by Serge Sauneron, and I finally got around to reading it. This book is considered a staple for Kemetics in many circles, and it doesn’t disappoint. This book goes far more in-depth into the priesthood of AE than almost any other book that I have read so far.

The book starts off discussing the generalized idea about what priests are and do. Sauneron shows us that while many people have an ideal about what priests were like (morally speaking) there were examples of priests who were less than savoury in their dealings. I would guess he does this to break any romanticism we have with the notion of being a priest. Priests were people just like us- and they were fallible as we are now.

Sauneron also discusses the basics of temple ritual, what a priest’s day might entail while in the temple. Most of this was not entirely new to me, but it was still interesting to read another perspective on it. After reading this, it really does validate a lot of what I’ve read in Reidy’s book. One confirms, in many ways, the other. He also goes into detail about different areas priests would have studied. He made a point to mention that each priest within the temple would have had a specialty. There was rarely a priest who knew EVERYTHING. Usually, you had someone who read stuff. Someone who oversaw just the offerings. Someone who spent their day making the linen and clothes for the icon. Someone who was there to deem if an animal was pure enough to be sacrificed to the god. Someone who knew the music that the god liked… etc. I think this is an important concept for modern Kemetics to consider, since it seems like we all have to know everything about everything in order to get somewhere. He also gave a generalized history of AE and how the priesthood could have played a role in it. It was interesting to see his ideas about how the Ramessides were trying to placate the priests of Amun while trying to promote their own god- Set. I’ve never seen anyone really discuss whether the 19th dynasty had problems with the temple of Amun or not. So the concept was interesting to consider.

I liked learning little facts that I’ve seen asked around the forums, yet never knew answers to. For example, Sauneron does mention that there was likely some type of initiation ritual for new priests. He says not a lot of information is known, but that something happened to transition them from outside to inside. In the case of higher priests appointed by the King, they would receive a ring and ceremonial staff, which I thought was interesting to know.

I also found out that there was mandatory ‘rules’ for animals that were butchered for the temple. Usually, related to markings (or lack thereof) – the beast had to be deemed pure in order for it to be served to the gods. I wonder how the Netjer feel about the types of meat we are serving them now ūüėõ

Apparently each nome of Egypt kept some sort of master list relating to what grew there, the mythologies of the area, common offerings, and a whole slew of other things. I would love to get my hand of a whole lot of these. Imagine the things we could learn.

I also found out that in the typical inner sanctuary of the temple, there would be a kar shrine, the boat, and usually a table- and that offerings were left outside of the kar shrine, on the table. I had thought that perhaps the offerings went in the shrine itself, so it’s good to have this cleared up. I guess for most temples, the shrine was sealed up after the morning ritual, and wasn’t opened the rest of the day. Which I was unaware of as well. I also found out that for some temples, there were lesser and greater morning rituals. Every 5 days or so, there would be a more involved morning rite that involved the changing of the clothes for the god, etc. But that on the lesser days, just the four strips of linen were swapped out.

He also confirmed that Open statues had their joo-joo renewed once per year. I would guess through another Opening of the Mouth rite.

Overall, the book had some interesting stuff to it. I learned a few new things and it reinforced a lot of what I have already read. Here are a few excerpts from the book I placed in my FB feed:

A priest is any man who, through bodily purification, puts himself in the state of physical purity necessary to approach the holy place, or to touch any objects or dishes of food consecrated to the god.

Maat is the aspect of the world that the gods have chosen, it is the universal order as they established it from its basic constituent elements, such as the course of the starts and the succession of days, down to the humblest of its manifestations” the harmony of the living, their religious piety; it is the cosmic balance, and the regular recurrence of the seasonal phenomena; it is also the respect for the earthly order set up by the gods – truth, and justice.

The Egyptians distinguished in the sky, beyond the sun and the moon, the stars which never rest- our planets: Mercury, Venus (the star of the evening and the morning), Mars (the red Horus), Jupiter (the glittering star), and Saturn (Horus the bull).

I think the biggest complaint I have about this book is that he cites late sources a lot. It seems like the majority of his information comes from Greek writers. While I know that it’s possible that this was his only major resource to pull from, I would certainly enjoy to hear more about priests from the Egyptians themselves- not outsiders who came to Egypt at the very end of her life.

All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the priesthood of Egypt, and whoever might be interested in creating a priestly role for themselves (or taking on such a role) in the modern era. I think by looking back at how the ancients did it, it can create a lot of ideas about how we can approach the concept today, and translate it into something that works in this time and place. I also feel this book does a good job at clearing up some of the misconceptions one might have about what bring a priest in AE was about.

See this book review over on Pagan Book Review!

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Kemetic Book Reviews, Kemeticism

 

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Nelson’s Landing

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about gods in the land around us (see: here and here). This has inspired me to write about a place where I felt the gods on a very up close and personal level. For whatever reason, Nelson’s Landing has always been one of the few places where I saw the gods everywhere. It was a very sacred place for me.

So where is this place? Nelson’s Landing is a small little spit of a town that lies along the Colorado river. Nelson’s Landing is south of Boulder (Hoover) Dam, but is north of Laughlin (for those who know the area). And from my home in Henderson, it took me about 45 minutes to get out to the river. Nelson’s Landing is a place you could easily drive by. The town is tiny and off the beaten path- and there is virtually no commerce there. As you drive back through the mountains, you lose all telephone signals. You really do become cut off from the rest of the world. No one can call you or find you. It’s like being sucked into an alternate space- because you are just so cut off from the world outside.

The town itself isn’t entirely on the river. It’s a few miles back. The river itself is part of a state park- so there are a few dirt roads that weave in and out of desert. The scenery is stunning. There are huge cuts in the earth from years and years of rain and water. The washes there can be a couple hundred feet deep. And if I could afford to go biking or off roading through the desert around Nelson’s Landing, I would. I can only imagine the variety of things you could see back there.

However, the area I’m always most interested in is the river. I love the river. It’s calm and serene. Beautiful and blue. Growing up in a desert, I don’t get to experience rivers very much. And for whatever reason, I have a special fondness of the Colorado River. It always seems more beautiful to me than a lot of other rivers I have seen. And from the cliffs of Nelson’s Landing, I could sit and watch the river for hours on end. Many times I would climb up one of the cliffs and stare out over the river and soak up the feelings I’d get.

In the river, I’d see O. Calm and sustaining the local wildlife. Around him, I could see Aset. Embracing him, Protecting him. Watching over the land. In that, I could see Nut as well- as she also embraces and protects O. The desolate nature of the area made me think of Set. The ruddy color of many of the cliffs also reminded me of him. In the sky, you had the unrelenting sun- Ra. There was local wildlife- coyotes (insert jackal gods here), birds of prey (insert falcon gods here) and fish (Hetmehyt). Even though it is the middle of the desert, there is growth, plants and flowers. One time there was a large swarm of lady bugs… showing that life still thrives in a very arid climate. Geb is alive and well, and is flourishing. As you find refuge in the shade from the sun, sometimes you’d get a nice breeze coming through, so that you could feel Shu in the air.

For whatever reason, this mixture of elements- the river, the cliffs, sun, vegetation, rocks, animals… it all mixed together and made me feel complete there. The urge to connect with this was so strong that I’d get ‘cravings’ to go out to Nelson. And it wouldn’t leave me alone until I went and spent a few hours just soaking it all in (and while I waited for the weekend to be able to go out there, I’d actually look at pictures or look at google maps satellite pictures and stare at the river and pretend I was there… the feelings were that strong). It filled some sort of void for me in a way that no other location ever has.

And I’m sad to say that it’s been a few years since I’ve been back. It’s very hard to justify driving 8 hours to see Nelson’s Landing, especially when I could use that time and money for other ventures. I also wonder if I don’t feel bitter for not having the ability to go there regularly anymore. I loved the southern Nevada region. Something about it just made me feel alive. Living there was a time of high high and low lows, and I was sad to have to go. And although I tried really hard to stay, life had other plans for me. I no longer live in a location where my surroundings bring me joy, or remind me of my deities. Sure, I still have desolate desert to remind me of Set. A sun that beats down on me year round to remind me of Ra. Plants and vegetation to make me think of Geb, O, Min and Aset. There are also your coyotes and birds of prey here as well. Despite the fact that all of the ‘same’ puzzle pieces are here as are in Nelson, they don’t make the same picture when put together. For whatever reason, Phoenix doesn’t bring me joy in the way that Nevada did. I wish I knew why. I know I’m going to be here for a while and that this is the location I’m supposed to be in, but I can’t help but feel contempt for my surroundings. I know there are things here that I love that aren’t in NV, I know that there are aspects of Phoenix that make life a lot easier and happier (closer to family, Matsuri, IKEA, monsoon, etc). But still, I can’t let go of Nelson or Nevada. I can’t get over that feeling I get when I’m staring out over the river and surrounding areas and I feel like I’m a part of the world around me. Feeling such a push to go and be with my gods that I would clear out my schedule for an entire day to just go and sit by the river.

You’d think in the middle of the desert, I could find my gods and resonate with them. And while I know the gods are here, I really don’t connect with them in Phoenix. Despite the beauty that can be found here, I don’t resonate with it. I don’t get the same feeling of nourishment and comfort here, and that bothers me. How does one connect with a place that they can’t stand? How do I change my perspective so that I can enjoy and connect with the surrounding area? What is blocking me from doing so? I really wish I knew. Until that point, I’ll just have to suffice with closing my eyes and going to Nelson in my dreams.

 

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Filling the Storehouse of the Gods

As many of you know, I have been using Re-Ment to supplement what I offer to the gods (an idea I took from this person). Due to my stomach issues and my fritzy schedule, I’ve been adding these miniatures to my routine- allowing the gods not to starve and me not to get so stressed over what to offer at 5 in the morning.

Up until recently, I only had a few pieces of Re-Ment to my name. Two cakes, 4 rolls, and 6 plates of food. While that sounds like quite a bit, I’m sure Set and O were getting tired of the same rotation day after day. So my SO set out to get me as much Re-Ment as he could. He ended up getting a lot batch of the stuff… which is a lot. Here are some pictures of the new stuff!

And overall shot of all of the stuff set out, as per what the pictures in the box look like.

There are muffins, tea sets, hot pots, pizza… you name it. Chocolate. Fruit. Ice cream. Crepes. Bagels. Rare beef. Beer. Cookies… a little bit of everything.

I particularly like some of the trays that come with these sets. It makes a nice setup for arranging the food for the gods. Sometimes each god gets their own tray. Other days, I make mass trays with tons of different foods on them, and let the gods duke out who gets what.

Most of these pieces have a lot of detail work to them. Pouches for chopsticks… individual grains for rice. Different types of coloration for the soups and drinks. It does look good enough to eat!

I love these cat eggs.

Now in some ways, this created a huge logistics/storage problem for me. I don’t have a lot of space for shrine implements right now. So I racked my brains for a few days (almost a week, really) trying to figure out where I was going to store all of this awesomeness. It would need to be organized somehow. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know how or where to find different food bits, and it would create issues in the morning. After a lot of thinking, I decided I would try and store them in the bottom drawer of my shrine case (an old silverware box). In order to keep things organized, I created boxes out of scrapbook paper.

Organized!

So there you have it. Lots and lots of Re-Ment. I think the gods will have more than enough variety for a while now ūüôā If any of you see anything you OMG WANT, let me know. I might be willing to part with it, as there is more here than I will probably need, and I have a feeling that some pieces the gods may not like.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Kemeticism

 

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Unveiling

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2011 in Kemeticism

 

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The Great Netjer Soda Guide

Ever needed something fast to offer the gods, but only had a fridge full of soda and wasn’t sure what to offer? Ever get in a pickle trying to figure out if Nebhet likes Pepsi or Coke? Well never fear, for I have created The Great Netjer Soda Guide that will allow you select which soda to give to which god with ease! Each of the sodas below has been hand selected for each Netjer ensuring a perfect fit and an awesome sensation as you leave this on the offering plate. Read on to find out which soda to offer your god and get to offering because who needs water anyways!

Crush – Shesmu
Dr. Pepper – Sekhmet, Imhotep
Mountain Dew – Meretseger or Geb
Big Red – Set, but beware not to give this to Osiris or Heru!
7 Up – Bast or HetHrw
Lift – Shu
Squirt – Min
Cream Soda – Min
Sierra Mist – Tefnut
Sunkist – Ra
Pepsi One – Aten
50/50 – Bawy
Barq’s Root Beer – Wepwawet
RC Cola – Any pharaohnic god/dess (Osiris, Ra, Geb, Heru, Aset, Hethrw, Nut)
Coke Zero – Nun, Amun
Jarritos – Khnum, Duamutef, Hapi, Imseti, Qebehsenuef
Sprite – Bes
Mello Yellow – Khepri
Brisk – Wenut
Vault – Heqet
Minute Maid – Seshat
Slice – Maahes
Love Body – Hethrw
Kuat – Osiris
Tab – Djehuty
Real Gold – Aset
Blue Sky – Nut

Have more soda suggestions? Place them in the comments section!
To view my more traditional offering guide, click here.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Kemeticism

 

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Book Review: Following the Sun

Originally posted on LJ on Jan 10, 2011

Today I’ll be reviewing “Following the Sun:¬†A Practical Guide to Egyptian Religion” by Sharon Laborde. I¬†wanted to start off this review by noting that I¬†have a bit of a bias about this author (not so much the book itself), as I¬†talk with her on various Kemetic forums. Please keep this in mind while reading this review.

This book has received a lot of fire from the Kemetic community. Perhaps I should rephrase that- the author of this book has received a lot of fire. Not in relation to the book, but in relation to her anti-KO stance. So needless to say, I was interested to see what this book was about, and if it would meet my expectations.

In short, the answer is no. This book disappointed me on many levels, though I¬†can’t say that it was unexpected. There were many things that irritated me about this book, though a few things stick out in particular. Those being- the author’s sourcing, the author’s tone/writing style, and the actual content of the book.

My biggest complaint about this book is the sourcing (or lack thereof). For me, if you’re not an actual Egyptologist, you have better have damned good sourcing. Otherwise, your work means nothing. There are many tidbits in this book that I¬†have never seen before. Many little facts that I¬†have never read about before. And while this is normally good- because the author neglects to source much of anything, I¬†can’t trust anything that is written. So to me, the lack of sourcing make the book totally useless. I can’t vouch for the validity of much of anything in this book because the sourcing sucks.

My second issue with this book is the author’s tonation while writing. I assume that she wanted to be considered “jovial”¬†or easy to approach. However, it just makes the author appear dumbed down, or that the author feels that you the reader are dumb. It was so frustrating. Along with her tone, I¬†didn’t like that she made it sound like Kemeticism IS this or IS that. There is no room for grey. No wiggle room. Nothing irritates me more than a black and white book that speaks as though it is god and knows all. Ugh. She is quick to call certain theories “zany” or outlandish. She is very harsh towards ideas that are not of her own. Along the lines of harsh content, both her Intro and Conclusion had “stories” in them that made reference to people who misunderstood Kemeticism. That’s fine, but the way she relates these stories to the reader is more of a “I met this person, and they said something stupid in relation to¬†Kemeticism. And now that you’ve read my book, you won’t be as stupid as they were!” What if the people she referenced happened to read her book and they saw her caustic remarks?¬†I¬†would feel aweful about that on so many levels. It’s really saddening.

And finally, I¬†didn’t like the content of the book. I¬†felt that the content wasn’t well researched at all. And you can definitely see the biases of the author through the content (i.e. a total slap to anything remotely KO¬†in nature, or her constant references to the 18th dynasty- a dynasty that she is totally into). The biases would slowly eat at me, and annoy me. To me, an author should promote an unbiased and well researched book. And this book is neither.

All in all, I¬†wouldn’t recommend this book. To anyone. Especially not to a beginner- which is ironic, because that is who the book is aimed toward. If someone were to read this book, and not know anything about¬†Kemeticism, they would have their asses handed to them online (which I’ve seen happen to a certain user who seems to only know about Kemeticism through this book). Plus, because the sourcing is horrible, I am afraid that some of the facts or scenarios laid out in this book are incorrect, thereby causing problems for the newb who stumbles their way online.

I feel sad that this review is so negative, but I¬†honestly can’t think of anything that I¬†really liked about this book. As I said above, I¬†wouldn’t recommend it.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2011 in Kemetic Book Reviews, Kemeticism

 

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