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Each of Us, Kings: A Paradigm Shift

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

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

The Prevalence of a Nisut in AE

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

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

Or something like that.

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

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

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

Why a Paradigm Shift?

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

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

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

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

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

Shifting the Paradigm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Edge Effect

As I’ve been learning about permaculture, I have found that many of the concepts presented often line up with aspects of Kemeticism. There is one section that discusses the idea of “patterns,” which is a sort of self-contained entity that often exists inside of another system that is often its own kind of pattern. And because of the nature of these patterns, you can often see similarities that unite many patterns in unique ways.

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

The author then goes on to discuss how the boundary between patterns and systems is an area where events love to occur, simply by the fact that two separate “things” are being forced to interact together. This creates a space that is nothing but an overlap between two systems, and yet is a system unto itself. As described in the book: “Special physical, social, or chemical conditions exist on the boundary, because of the reaction between the adjacent media. As all boundary conditions have some fuzzy depth, they constitute a third media, the media of the boundary zone itself.” Because of this, boundaries are considered to be species-rich and usually have more resources available. Put another way, it’s a liminal space.

For example, where a forest meets a pond, there is a border where you’ve got both land and water. Because both ecosystems are represented in this singular area, you’re going to have a more complex system that combines both. “At interfaces, species of both systems can exist, and in many cases the boundary also supports its own species.” He calls this concept the Edge Effect.

Due to how special boundaries are and how beneficial they can be to an ecosystem, the author instructs the designer to create as many boundaries as possible. This way, you are increasing the amount of diversity and resources available. And while this was originally created for a natural/outdoor space, I personally think that it can apply to our own lives in many ways.

I’m sure to some extent, many of you are scratching your head (as I certainly am on my medicated reread of this post) as to what boundary interaction has to do with anything beyond agriculture. What I’m trying to suggest is the idea that if you consider the personal boundary that is your self, and if you make your boundary interact with lots of other boundaries, you might see an increase of resources or benefits within your life.

Put another way that is specific to my genre: I question that if you are struggling with interacting with the Unseen or its inhabitants (which live on the other side of a very thick boundary) that by going out and either increasing the amount of times you attempt to interact with the Unseen or their structures (aka, religious materials, rites, rituals, etc.) or by going out and having new experiences in general, that you might have an uptick in ability to interact with the Unseen.

First of all, I’d like to say that this concept isn’t new or original by any means. Therapists suggest it to depressed people. Life coaches suggest it to CEOs and creative types. If any of you watch Steven Universe, you might even recognize this concept already:

 

Though from a permaculture standpoint, it’s less about being random, and more about increased frequency of interaction.

This increased interaction can happen any number of ways, mind you. You could attempt to increase the amount of times you try to interact with the gods or the Unseen, and see if that helps you to get a better feel for them or have more interactions with them. It stands to reason that by doing more of a thing, you’re going to increase your chances of success at it, and rites and rituals are no different. Several authors have talked about the idea that by doing rituals in the same way over and over again — whether it be years or generations, that it helps to build up a sort of “Unseen Highway” that you can tap into and touch some deeper meaning or energy from those who came before. And while I can’t say that I’ve ever somehow stumbled upon some sort of arcane, unknown knowledge by doing rituals, it doesn’t change the fact that by doing, you’re genuinely increasing the likelihood that you’re going to have an interaction with those you are dedicating your time to.

But I would also like to posit the idea that increasing your interactions with other experiences in general could also help in this matter — even if the experiences aren’t directly related to your religious practice.

The main reason behind why is the simple fact that experiencing new things changes our brains. Simply by actively engaging with something, you are causing your brain to change, and those changes can lead to new and unexpected places. This is partially why its not unheard of for therapists to recommend those with mental illness get out and do something — because it’s going to force you and your “boundary” to interact wit others and their “boundaries” and those interactions can improve mental health, even if you’re not entirely thrilled to be doing stuff.

I think that this is also why so many of us recommend reading books or doing things that make you think about the gods/religion during fallow periods — because it allows your brain to learn new things, and make new connections. And that can not only refuel our desire for practice, but it can also lead to an increase in participation or interactions within a practice.

Have you ever considered making “outings” a part of your religious practice? Have you ever noticed an improvement in mood or creativity after a break from daily pattern? If you could use this method, what sorts of experiences would you want to explore or try?

 

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Aimless

This post was originally a part of last week’s post, but because of length, I decided to break the post into two with last week focusing more on my mundane life, and this week focusing more on re-entering Kemeticism. If this post seems somewhat repetitive, that is why.

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One of the most interesting and oh-so-fun side effects of my health degrading is my complete and utter lack of memory. I honestly can’t remember most of 2015, 2016… and to some extent, 2017. When I went to start writing posts in August, I realized that I had forgotten that I had posted in April. A lot of what I used to know about Kemeticism still rattles in my head, but I don’t really have access to it anymore.

Because of this side effect, all I could really remember thinking about Kemeticism since my health tanked in 2016 was lukewarm “eh” ness. I mean, when I moved, my shrine sat on a shelf for weeks and collected dust with its doors taped shut while I lukewarmly looked for a place to put it. I couldn’t care less about the gods or the community, and for all I could remember, this had been the case since my “A Good Horse” era.

But recently I found a planner from 2016 that I stored all of my little tidbits in. As it turns out, early 2016 me was very much still jonesing for Kemeticism. I have pages of notes for my book. Pages of notes for how I wanted to release it. Topics that I wanted to write about on WP. Tagging phrases I wanted to use over on tumblr to make resources more searchable. Initiation tidbits that O had pinged for me while I was still able to read (another fun side effect — I can’t read or write very well anymore.)

But between the gap of what was and what is, I lost something. I lost a lot of somethings. And part of that was my original love affair for the NTRW. I don’t know when it happened exactly, but I’m pretty sure it started in the fall of 2016, when I was told through a third party that I should step back on all fronts related to Kemeticism, for my own health, and co-signed it with Set’s name. Regardless of what I wanted or what I felt was the proper handling of such a situation, the writing was pretty apparent on the wall, and it said to gtfo.

I had to be dragged and kicked away from my work. Within a month or two of fully walking away, you couldn’t drag me back to it. I began to find absolute liberty and freedom in being able to see that drama was occurring, and not feel obligated to do anything about it. It was amazing to not have to deal with writing schedules, constantly checking social media platforms, having to field drama or requests to handle drama, etc. I loved being able to just… exist without worrying about this religious community.

But even as I drifted away from Kemeticism, I found that I was often still going back to it. As I began to study permaculture and learn more about the processes that occur in nature, I found myself comparing them to ma’at, to the NTRW, to Kemeticism. Even if I never wanted to see Kemeticism ever again, I couldn’t seem to break free of it, either. It was built so heavily into my worldview that I had nothing else to put in its place to compare new concepts to.

As I began to play with the idea of writing again, I found myself mulling more and more about how I actually felt under the surface about my religion. I knew that I still liked the religion itself, but that my strongest emotions were towards the gods and the community specifically. In many ways, I was content to keep ma’at and pitch the rest–other Kemetics included.

So when grandma died and everything was thrown onto the floor, I really had to figure out why I should even bother to come back to writing at all. Because of the need to be present and offline while handling all of the aspects of cleaning her house, moving in, caring for grandpa, etc. I really got the chance to 100% forget and remove myself from the trappings that used to be my daily life. My shrine was packed away. All of my books were out of sight, and I went months without checking WP and days without checking Tumblr. I completely and totally fell of the map.

And I liked it.

I’m sure this is leading a few of you to ask yourself “well why are you even here, then, if you liked it so much?” And my answer to you is

 

To some extent I can’t justify entirely walking away from what I’ve helped to build, but on the other hand, I’m not as committed to the sparkle motion as I used to be. Or at least, I’m not as committed to the sparkle motion that the gods seemed to want for this community. Part of why I am here is also spite — spite at the gods for their treatment of myself and others, spite at the people who wish I’d just disappear.

So far, the only thing I can really say with any certainty is that becoming more active on discord is probably the main reason I decided it was worth coming back. Being able to talk with other people was what really sold me on doing this work many years ago, and to some extent, its what’s bringing me back now (and frankly, I’m not the only one.) Time and time again, love it or hate it, its those pesky human interactions that seem to bring a lot of us back.

That and spite.

The more I get to interact with people again, the more I remember that it used to be this way before I lost a lot of my friends, and before I became too ill to really bother with talking to anyone anymore. I have no clue how widely-known it is, but when my health tanked and I suddenly stopped posting or doing anything online… almost no one came to check on me, and I know for a fact that that has weighed heavily on me since 2015. When you’re trying to hard just to scrape by, and no one even seems to notice you’re gone, it makes it hard to convince yourself its worth going back to. I’ve realized since that it’s not necessarily that people don’t care, but it’s that people don’t know what they don’t know. And many of us (myself included) really suck at letting people know that we’re thinking of them, or checking in on people.

As I slowly sifted back through the posts that I forgot I wrote, I began to realize that ultimately, I’m in the same position that I’ve always been in. My love for the gods is about a lukewarm as it’s seemingly always been. It’s the people that have always brought me back around and kept me here.

And I think I’m okay with that.

 

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The Problem is the Solution

They say that recovery isn’t a straight line.

They’re not wrong.

Back when I was in therapy, I often found myself back in a portion of my past, somewhere starting in 4th grade, spanning through to the end of 5th grade. During this time in my life, I had experienced a lot of changes resulting in a loss of stability, structure, and trust btwn me and, well, everyone around me. While everything that was going on seemed doable from the perspective of an adult, the younger parts of myself felt as though I had experienced the end of a way of living. To elementary school me, it was almost like I was living through an apocalypse, and trying to find a way to continue on despite the fact that only a husk seemed to remain of my former life.

I think about this part of myself often. I think because I can relate to it in a whole new way than I could before. It’s not that I haven’t had to shift my way of living regularly as new health issues or losses of resources have occurred… its that I’ve never actually achieved any level of stability since my youth to actually lose. Until now.

People may have noticed that at the end of last year, it seemed like I might start posting regularly again. If this was you, then congratulations, you were correct. That is, until my grandmother died. For those of you who have been hanging around for a hot minute, you’ll know that our past was checkered in both amazing and equally awful ways. Our relationship was complicated, though it had mostly worked itself out as I became an adult.

With her death, everything about life changed. I had to move into her old house so that someone could keep an eye on my grandfather, except to do that I needed to clear out enough of her belongings to actually be able to move in (can you say “hoarding”?.) In the process I had to break my lease and pay for that. I had to give up job opportunities and accept the fact that holding down a full-time job again was no longer in my future, for better or worse. I had just gotten my diet, and to some extent, my health, under control only to have that blown apart because I now have to provide meals for another person whose eating habits are completely antithetical to what I need to be ingesting.

So in short, everything has more or less changed in the past 6 months. My living situation has changed. I’m no longer living in town with my SO, but instead in the sticks with my SO, grandfather and all of my grandmother’s hoarded animals. I’ve got to not only take care of myself, but the house, the animals, and my grandfather. And while my family had originally made it sound like they were going to be helpful, the truth has shown to be quite the opposite.

As such, in a matter of a few weeks, nearly all of the progress that I had made in improving my health has completely been sunk. Symptoms that had left have slowly started to return, and I’ve noticed that my lack of being able to maintain all of my specialists and dietary needs has taken a toll. And I’m likely only just getting started. In so many ways, I feel so much like my younger self, standing in a wasteland of what used to be my life. Unlike 4th grade me, I at least have more tools now to get myself back to where I want to be, but it doesn’t change the fact that it really sucks to have your recovery shot in both of its kneecaps and left for dead.

Everything that has happened in the past few years has left me with conflicting emotions, and this final turn of events has been the cherry on top. I titled this post “the problem is the solution” in an attempt to remind myself that even though things are challenging, they are ultimately what I need in order to get where I want to be. And that while I may feel several ways about something, that I am still heading in the direction that I ultimately want to go.

While the timing of being forced out onto this property is not ideal, I know that it will ultimately be better for me to be here sooner over later. This will allow me to start moving forward on my long-term future plans sooner over later, and it allows me to stop my future house-to-be from becoming completely unlivable, as my grandparents weren’t doing any of the major maintenance needed to keep things running well. While the existence I’m eking out right now isn’t great, I know that I ultimately have the capacity to turn my situation into a boon if I play my cards right.

But it also means the passing of an era. I know that I’ll never be able to go back to how things were, and while I know that that ultimately isn’t a bad thing, it still makes me a little sad. Especially because it means that getting my health back on track is going to now be that much more difficult and challenging, and that while I know opportunity exists at some point in the future, I still have to get there from where I’m at.

Of course, I am also changed from this experience. The person I was three years ago really kinda no longer exists. Running the gauntlet of having someone die, becoming a caretaker, and dealing with the drama and fallout that occurs with that sort of process all while trying not to die on the daily has changed me, for better or worse. As you will likely see in the coming posts that I’ve got scheduled, I’ve lost parts of myself, cast parts of myself aside, and am still not entirely sure where I’m at or what I’m doing–especially when it comes to Kemeticism. And while things are still up in the air, I’m certain that it’s only a matter of time before those changes affect how I look at Kemeticism, or handle my community work, as well.

Everything I did with this blog before I left was mainly aimed at obtaining Set’s objectives for the community. I no longer have to adhere to that, so I guess let’s see where it leads us, shall we?

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2018 in Hypnosis & Inner Work, Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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The Fight For Yourself

Before I start this post, I wanted to thank everyone who gave me feedback from my last post. It’s great to see that I still have a readership despite being awol for the past year or two, and I’m glad to hear that people like my less informative posts, and were still down with seeing more of my shadow work stuff. So a lot of love to all of you ❤ and with that, now for the actual post…

Being chronically ill is frustrating.

Of course, many of you reading this know that, but it bears repeating all the same — being chronically ill is frustrating. It’s a constant uphill walk, filled with schedules and things you have to do, along with a lot of not-doing things that you want to do. It requires a lot of will power and discipline, which illness loves to collect from you as though it were extracting a fee. It also costs a lot of money and time to be sick all the time. I’ve lost track of how much dough and how many hours I’ve dumped into various doctors appointments, prescriptions, supplements, etc.

When you consistently hate yourself, this battle becomes even more difficult. You end up burning the candle at both ends — telling yourself that you need to do something, because its good for yourself and will make life more bearable, while simultaneously hating yourself for being sick all the time, for making your own experience on this planet even more difficult and frustrating.

Or at least, that’s how it has always been for me.

When I first started therapy, one of the first things that we discussed was the fact that I was so super mean to myself. I was always super critical of everything I did. I was very much like a non-stop version of this:

There is a reason why so many of us end up with this sort of negative internal self-talk. To pull from someone who knows more about this than me:

A flashback-inducing critic is typically spawned in a danger-ridden childhood home. This is true whether the danger comes from the passive abandonment of neglect or the active abandonment of abuse. When parents do not provide safe enough bonding and positive feedback, the child flounders in anxiety and fear. Many children appear to be hard-wired to adapt to this endangering abandonment with perfectionism.

A prevailing climate of danger forces the child’s superego to over-cultivate the various programs of perfectionism and endangerment listed below. Once again, the superego is the part of the psyche that learns parental rules in order to gain their acceptance.

The inner critic is the superego gone bad. The inner critic is the superego in overdrive desperately trying to win your parents approval. When perfectionist driving fails to win welcoming from your parents, the inner critic becomes increasingly hostile and caustic. It festers into a virulent inner voice that increasingly manifests self-hate, self-disgust, and self-abandonment.

The inner critic blames you incessantly for shortcomings that is imagines to be the cause of your parents rejection. It is incapable of understanding that the real cause lies in your parents’ shortcomings. […]

A traumatized child becomes desperate to relieve the anxiety and depression of abandonment. The critic-driven child can only think about the ways they are too much or not enough. The child’s unfolding sense of self (the healthy ego) finds no room to develop. Their identity virtually becomes the critic. The superego trumps the ego.

In this process, the critic becomes increasingly virulent and eventually switches from the parents’ internalized voice: “You’re bad” to the first person: “I’m bad”.

This is unlike the soldier in combat who does not develop a toxic critic. This process whereby the superego becomes carcinogenic is a key juncture where ptsd morphs into cptsd.

(you can read more quotes from Walker’s CPTSD book here.)

In Kemetic circles, you will often hear about how one should “not eat their heart.” In a way, its saying not to devour yourself, to destroy your own essence. Arguably, it’s working against ma’at to eat your heart on a regular basis. It undermines your health, your life, and what the NTRW have given you. Yet for someone like me, eating my heart was all I seemed to be doing. It didn’t look like it on the surface, but deep down, I have always been mean and nasty to myself. I’ve always been bitter at my own limitations, at my own body, at not being what I thought I wanted to be (truthfully, I don’t think I even know what I wanted to be… back to not really having a clear goal of where I’m even going.) I think chronic illness adds another layer to all of this hell because it gives you even more “reasons” to hate yourself, and the society we live in often reinforces that hatred (because western culture doesn’t seem to like disabled people much.)

If my body is a microcosm of my world, and I were to translate how I treated myself to how the NTRW run the Duat, it’d be a case of only going to battle a/pep whenever it suited me. The citizens would cry out in the streets about how isfet was devouring the outer edges of our land, and I’d begrudgingly pick up my spear and bemoan about how I have to go do this yet again to keep our land safe. I’d be the most obnoxious “savior” anyone had ever met. And because of my lack of speed to even help battle a/pep, I’d then have to spend more resources cleaning up the damage after the fact. All because I wasn’t really in it to win it. My heart was gone, for I had eaten it. I wasn’t really fighting for myself as much as I was just… going through the motions and hoping it would work out.

And if we flip that narrative, how would you feel if you saw the gods drag their feet and get huffy every time they needed to go smite isfet? Would you have a lot of confidence in them? Would you want to put your energy into helping or backing them? Or would you be more inclined to not get involved? I suspect a lot of us would waver at the sight of our gods acting like that, and on an internal level, the same thing happens to our neglected selves, our inner children that watch our adult selves shirk off responsibilities and only half-assedly dole out love to our own beings, our own selves. As my inner child told me very early on in therapy, “You care more about your astral self than you do me. Why should I even talk to you.”

If there is one thing I could stress to everyone reading this, it’s that you have to be on your own side in order to win a fight against yourself (and by that, I mean, win a fight against your inner critic.) You can’t be passive in your love of yourself and expect to make headway in loving yourself.

I’m sure many of you are now saying “well that’s all good and well, but I don’t know how to stop hating on myself.”

The method that we used is rooted in the notion of having options. A major factor in PTSD and learned helplessness is the feeling of having no options to take. When we don’t perceive ourselves as having options, we feel like there is nothing we can do, that we are powerless; and often times it means that we don’t even give it an honest shot to try and be successful. The perception of having options (and therefore control in your life) is vital to moving forward.

We often generated options by asking ourself “well, what else might be true?” To give you a more concrete example, we often call ourselves lazy. When you find yourself saying “I didn’t finish it because I’m lazy”, you could ask yourself “what else might be true about that statement?” And you may very well realize that you’re not actually lazy, but are downright tired from a spoon shortage.

Another example might be “everyone hates me” converted into “I feel like everyone hates me.” One is a statement of absolutes, the other allows the possibility that maybe it’s not as bad as it feels right now.

The way that really made this concept stick for me was to step back from myself and go “if I was someone else looking in on me now, would I believe this is true?” Usually I am more forgiving of other people’s shortcomings and problems. I’m more able to be understanding and be lenient, to remind someone that they’re going through a lot, that they’re doing the best that they can. And in turn, I should be doing the same with myself.

I’ve found that this method works best with multiple people to help point out when you’re being mean to yourself. Very often, me and my SO will quip “what else might be true” or “why are you being so mean to yourself” whenever we start with the negative self-talk. It’s been very helpful for noticing those behaviours so that I can work to correct them.

If we believe that heka is an Important Thing, then we believe that our words have power and weight. And as such, we should therefore believe that mean words to ourselves are essentially our own internal execrations thrown against our own hearts. The more we execrate ourselves, the more salted the ground becomes, the less effective we become at everything. We are all amazing hekau — when it comes to execrating ourselves.

I propose that 2018 become the year that we master our internal heka, you know, the internal messages that we tell ourselves. That we truly start to fight for our own well being, for our own needs. That we open up to the possibility that we are not the pieces of shit our world has taught us to believe that we are. That we hold each other accountable, and ask each other to not be so mean to ourselves. That we help each other see our goodness and strong points. That we quit using our energy to break ourselves down, and instead utilize it to build ourselves up.

What untruthful things do you say about yourself? Have you considered whether negative self-talk could be damaging your relationship with yourself and your life? Will you end up working to create more options about how you talk about yourself?

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When One Door Closes…

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

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

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

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

cookies_osiris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted by on January 5, 2017 in Kemeticism

 

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The Internet Lacks Object Permanence

Over the years of interacting with people over the Internet, I’ve noticed that many people online seem to lack some amount of object permanence when it comes to other Internet users. Now, this isn’t object permanence in the strictest sense, obviously. I’m fairly certain that most of us have the ability to “understand that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be observed (seen, heard, touched, smelled or sensed in any way)”. But just because we get it on a superficial level doesn’t mean that it’s actually being absorbed and utilized on a deeper level.

Object permanence: what it is, and how I’m relating it to religion

For those of you who have never heard of the concept of object permanence, it’s basically the concept that you understand that things exist, even if you can’t see or experience  them directly. It’s something that most people develop when they’re still a toddler (there are some exceptions to this, as some disorders involve having difficulty with object permanence), and so most of you reading this probably do understand that when I place a cup in the cabinet and close the door, the cup still exists inside of the cabinet, even if you can’t see it. Your inability to experience this cup directly doesn’t make it suddenly vanish from existence.

You’d think that a group of people who spends a lot of time talking about entities that none of us can touch or see in the physical sense would have a really firm grasp of object permanence. In many ways, our entire religious experience is a drawn-out exercise in object permanence. We can’t necessarily experience our gods directly (as in: we can’t touch them, see them, or talk with them the way that we would a human), and so nearly everything that we do requires utilizing object permanence in order to be effective or successful in what we’re doing as practitioners.

However, it seems that many of us have a blind spot in our object permanence: other practices and how they are presented on the Internet by co-religionists. I think that objectively we understand that many of us aren’t talking about the entirety of our practices online, but it seems that many of us forget that on the regular. It seems that for a large portion of Internet users, if you’re not actively talking about it or posting about it, it doesn’t exist.

To use my cup and cabinet metaphor above, if I decide to keep part of my practice (the cup) in the cabinet because I don’t wish to share it with you (aka: I don’t post about it online), then a lot of people assume that the parts of my practice that are in the cabinet (the parts of my practice that I don’t openly discuss) don’t exist.

Or in other words, because I haven’t dredged up every aspect of my practice and put it on display for you, I’m obviously not doing those things ever, and those “missing” parts of my practice don’t exist.

Building roadblocks out of assumptions

This habit can be very damaging on multiple levels. First of all, it can create a very hostile environment where practitioners may use their assumptions (aka: assuming the cup stops existing because it’s in the cabinet) to berate or chastise other practitioners. This seems to manifest in a lot of ways, but the most common that I’ve seen is that people assume that because everyone only posts funny, lighthearted or “fluffy” stuff online, that none of them is actually serious in their religion or practice. This then bleeds into the belief that others aren’t historically driven enough, serious enough, or legitimate enough because they’re not seeing the “proper markers” to assume that someone isn’t making a joke of this very serious business known as religion.

These assumptions can then create a toxic environment where co-religionists have to worry about appearing “legitimate” enough to their peers in order to be taken seriously or given respect. Some members may feel pressured to over emphasize the “real” parts of their practice so that their peers will give them the time of day. Conversely, others may feel that they need to hide the “less legitimate” portions of their practice, or even stop talking or participating all together because of the pressure to meet this unstated standard of perfection that these assumptions have created for the community.

And as can be seen and witnessed in multiple communities right now, this dichotomy of “good enough” and “not good enough” creates a very large divide within a religion. It creates a divide between those who are deemed as legitimate and those who are not. You are either serious and follow a set protocol, or you are a pleeb who is “ruining our religion” and “disrespecting the gods” because we’re making assumptions about what your practice consists of based off of what you say online. The fact that you may go away from your computer where you’ve just posted 10 sparkly NTR gifs for funsies and are about to do a 3 hour long ritual means nothing if you’re not posting it online.

Destroying roadblocks by destroying our assumptions

To be honest, every time I see an instance of someone forgetting that people don’t display every aspect of themselves or their religious practice online, I get very sad. To me, it seems like such a waste to spend all of our time comparing practices and telling others that they’re doing it wrong because they don’t meet our own personal criteria for what makes a practice “correct.” It’s one thing if a community member is being problematic or hurting others with their practices, but honestly, if no one is being hurt by what they’re doing, why do we make such a big deal out of it? Why are so many of us more interested in judging how others practice or worship than tending to our own business?

I think the only way to actively work against the lack of object permanence that exists in our online communities is to actively work against our own assumptions that we make. Each of us makes assumptions about what others are doing or not doing, about how legitimate their experiences are or aren’t, and about how serious they may or may not be about their religious practice. We all do it, it’s part of human nature.

What’s important is to actively work against those assumptions, though. Even if you start to assume that someone has something wrong, maybe take a step back and ask yourself if it really matters. Does it really matter that someone sees a god with pink hair? Does it really matter that they’re offering to the gods in plastic solo cups? Does it really matter that people are joking about a god’s butt?

It’s a lot like the yardstick of dickery: is what is being said or done actually hurting anyone, or is it just bugging me? Is there any actual benefit from me saying something?

If the answer to both of these is no, then there isn’t really any need to get upset over it. And it’s important to remember that what we’re seeing online is not the totality of anyone’s practice. Just because someone might appear to be practicing one way online doesn’t mean that that is all that their practice consists of.

And as I’ve said a million times before, if the behaviour is truly damaging to the gods, we should learn to trust that the gods will handle it in their own time using their own methods.

Learning to work together with something as personal and important as religion can be challenging, but the sooner we learn to ease up on our assumptions, the better off things will get. Learning to remember that no one shows every aspect of their practice online is important, as is remembering that different deity-devotee relationships can take different forms. The more that we can work to find common ground between different methods of practice within Kemeticism, the better off our entire community will be.

Do you have issues with assuming too much about others’ practices based off of what they showcase online? Have you ever assumed something about a practitioner’s practice, only to have that assumption proved wrong later on? How do you stop yourself from assuming too much about your co-religionists?

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Posted by on June 22, 2016 in Boat Paddlers Arsenal, Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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