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Creating a Calendar Around Local Ecology: Bringing it All Together

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of how to set up a calendar, I wanted to try and bring everything together by showing you my calendar. Throughout this series, I’ve tried to use various examples that aren’t just from my region, in a hopes of showcasing different ways these ideas can be applied, but the problem is that I don’t know any other region on earth like I know AZ. And so some of my information, in my opinion, gets lost in trying to make it applicable to everyone. So to try and fix that, and show you how the ideas laid out in the past four posts come together, we’re going to go over what I’ve got going so far.

Please keep in mind this calendar is still a work in progress, so some sections may still be incomplete, but hopefully this gives everyone a better idea of what a relatively complete calendar could look like. For where I live, at least.

Direction, Background, Context

There are two things that brought me to want to make a calendar that better reflected my local area. The first is that I’m rubbish at actively planning out my gardening projects. When you’re gardening as a means to try and feed yourself, there are a lot of things that need to be done at regular intervals if you want to be successful. And if there is one thing I’ve found I’m not great at — its being diligent and timely in gardening tasks. My original hope was that maybe I could create holidays or rites or something that would help me to better plan and participate in my gardening adventures.

As such, you’re going to notice that a lot of my holidays and days of importance are tied to gardening, and all of the extra tasks that come along with it. And since the weather isn’t always consistent year to year, you’ll find that a lot of my holidays are more generalized in their placement, since things may vary year to year.

The second reason that I wanted to make a calendar is because our weather is changing every year. I think part of me hoped that by participating in the cycles of weather, trying to perform rites that help to encourage the weather to be as it’s always been might help to ease the discomfort of losing the predictability that comes with not having climate change. From a Kemetic perspective, it was the job of humans to help keep things moving smoothly and regularly. Our participation helped the gods be timely, helped to ensure successful inundations, helped to ensure survival. And while I’m not saying that doing rituals to bring the weather where it needs to be will solve anything, I can’t help but wonder how it may effect me all the same.

As I tried to combine both of these needs/wants, I found that the basic information you use for site assessment in permaculture could translate into making a calendar and eventually sat down to write the process out for everyone here. Ultimately, I think the end goal for all of us is to end up having a sense of place. A sense of being from a location, existing in a particular region or space, and not constantly feeling like we’re dragging something from somewhere else into a land that is ultimately not ours. While also not disregarding the past that led so many of us to be on land that is ultimately not ours.

It’s due to trying to find that sense of place that my calendar doesn’t have a lot of really in-depth ritual work. I’ve had this really bad problem for most of my “Kemetic career” where I seem to believe that if I make something Important and Detailed and Ornate and Involved, I will be more inclined to Get It Done. But if the Year of Rites taught me anything, its that people are what bring me to Get Things Done. The only times I’ve ever been able to genuinely participate in ritual work is when others were involved, even if only indirectly. As such, my calendar is less about ritual, and more about how to find ways to Be Present in my natural surroundings, and also how to get other people to participate in stuff with me. It’s less about sitting in front of a shrine case, and more about doing yard work outside with someone else.

I bring this up to really drive home that your priorities don’t need to be the same as mine, and your methods of celebrating don’t need to look like mine. However, I really wanted everyone reading to have an understanding of the context behind the choices I’ve made in what to include or exclude from my calendar.

And with that, let’s (finally) get started.

List of Holidays

Just to make it easier, here is my calendar without all of the additional information tied to it:

  • January 1: Wep Ronpet the Second
  • Feb – April: The Smiting of Stinknet, weekly to daily
  • Feb 22: Basking in Greenness
  • March 5: Gathering and Drying
  • March 15: Sowing the Seeds for Ma’at
  • Late March – Mid April: Transition month
  • April 10: Gathering and Drying
  • April 12: Return of the Vultures
  • April 25: Desert Hanami
  • First day of 100F, usually late April, early May: The Great Farewell, The Long Dry Begins
  • May 5: Winnowing and Sorting
  • May 15: Seeking Out and Spreading Ma’at through the Land
  • May 20: Gazing Upon the White Crowns
  • June 15: Feasting Upon the Red Crowns
  • June 30: Collecting of the Beans
  • July 1: Enticing the Monsoon
  • Monsoon Season: Greeting the Storm (floating)
  • First week of humidity: The Great Relief, Monsoon season begins
  • First weekend in August: Wep Ronpet
  • Sept 25: Gathering and Drying
  • October: Transition month
  • October 5: Preparing the fields for growth
  • October 10: Winnowing and Sorting
  • October 15: Sowing the Seeds for Ma’at
  • November 20: The Short Mild Begins
  • November-December: Celebrating the First Rain (floating)
  • Dec 15: Sowing the Seeds for Ma’at

I wasn’t sure how to organize the information for this calendar, so I’ve decided to walk you through our seasons, and discuss the holidays as they come up within their seasons. There are a series of holidays listed above that occur multiple times per year. I’ll cover those in the “Transitions” section after the seasons.

A Place of Two Seasons: The Long Dry

The Long Dry usually begins in early May, with a month of transition starting in late March. During a bad year, the Long Dry will start in early April (yes). You’ll know when the Long Dry is here, because our evaporation rate will sky rocket, and everything needs to be watered more regularly. As dry as the Short Mild might be, the Long Dry is, by far, dryer yet. Days are above 90F every day, and during peak season, your nights will be in the 90’s.

The transition to this season is marked by the Great Farewell, which is usually the first day that is over 100F. We call it the Great Farewell because you’re saying farewell to your comfort for the next several months. This day is spent making sure everything is prepared for the heat that’s about to set in; including things like sun shades for plants and animals, extra water bowls for the outside critters, mulch to protect the roots of our plants, etc.

The Long Dry begins with a bang, because everything will be yellow. The short span of transition that leads us into this season is filled to the brim with active life and changes. Things come into flower, bees are everywhere, lizards, vultures, and moths all begin to reappear, and you have to actively watch out for snakes again. The first holiday of the season, Seeking Out and Spreading Ma’at through the Land, is about foraging for local seeds, and dispersing them in the more denuded parts of our area. These seeds are the remnants of the Short Mild, and the first casualties of the Long Dry. As the season progresses, all of our plants slowly begin to die back or hibernate, and only the hardiest desert plants tend to survive without human assistance. One of the first things that is available to harvest and eat are Palo Verde beans and Saguaro fruit.

This brings us to Gazing Upon the White Crowns and Feasting Upon the Red Crowns — the next two holidays that occur during the Long Dry.

The Saguaro is a big deal in AZ. It only grows in the Sonoran desert, and it’s sacred to the indigenous people who live here. Every year, the older saguaros around the state will produce flowers that then turn into edible fruits. These white flowers usually form something of a “crown” on the top of the saguaro, and they can be hard to spot, since they are often open for only 24 hours or so. The first half of this holiday involves simply paying attention to these crowns, noticing which cacti are producing flowers this year, and giving homage to what they provide to our ecosystem.

The second half of this holiday is about collecting the fruits, which are a nice red color. Now, I have the benefit of being able to refer to the indigenous traditions relating to collecting fruit, but I honestly don’t want to appropriate or overstep onto something that isn’t mine to utilize. So for our purposes, it will likely be only a household thing, as I wouldn’t want to attract too many people and overtax our local ecosystem. A lot of animals rely on these fruits for sustenance throughout the Long Dry, and so we won’t be removing too many, just in case. I’m also fairly certain that none of the saguaro around here are claimed or utilized by any indigenous people, so we’ll stick to what is local so that we don’t accidentally take from someone.

Very likely, this will end up being a ritualized form of foraging, where we will utilize our saguaro ribs, go out and look for some pods that are ripe and that we can reach. And then take these home to celebrate and eat as part of a fancier meal. Ideally, I think I would like to find a way to give to the saguaro itself, or the various pollinators that help create these fruits, but I’m not entirely sure what that will look like yet.

The next holiday is the Collecting of Beans, which are the result of the yellow flowers that dot the landscape in April. These bean trees are vital to sustaining virtually everyone through the Long Dry. The beans can be eaten green, or stored indefinitely. They can be eaten whole as a bean, or ground into a flour that has a sugary flavor. There are often milling parties in the summer for people to bring their collected beans and have them ground up.

There is a micro season that occurs in the Long Dry: monsoon season, which is marked by the Great Relief.

Traditionally, monsoon season began in mid-June, but more and more it’s started in late July. You’ll know when monsoon season is here because it’ll be humid (for here), and the dew point will be above 50% daily. This is the only rain you’ll usually get during the Long Dry season (usually half of our yearly average), but with climate change, we’re getting less and less rain. Last year barely even got humid. This is a problem for us, because without this humidity, there is no growing anything outside (easily) until October. Even though humidity is awful, it is a huge relief when the humidity shows up, as it allows both plants and animals to cope a little bit better with the scorching summer sun.

Enticing the Monsoon is meant to be a series of rites that helps to encourage the monsoon upwards to our area. Traditionally, I would create new windchime clappers that go onto a certain set of chimes that only ring when a storm front is coming in (usually). I’m hoping to expand it so that once the Great Relief shows up (if it does,) we celebrate by planting monsoon crops and digging some basins to help make sure they get as much water as possible. I would like to potentially utilize some of the concepts present in the Beautiful Reunion, but I’m still working out details.

Monsoon season usually ends around the second week of September, and the Long Dry will recommence until sometime in November.

A Place of Two Seasons: The Short Mild

The Short Mild is also called snowbird season down here, and it’s when stuff is actually green and you can go outside without dying. Most Kemetics will note that the Mysteries happens during this season, and while most of you get to experience Osiris as nothing but death and coldness, I actually have nothing but greenness and growth occurring during this period. The Short Mild is a respite in every sense of the word, and is one of the main reasons many Arizonans choose to live here: “because the winter is mild.”

The Short Mild is a heavy planting season for us, and most earth moving projects come to a halt to allow as much growth as possible to occur. Traditionally, we would have a spike in cold temperatures between the last week of December and the second week of January, but this isn’t always holding true anymore. We typically have winter rains that help to make up for the other half of our annual water, and I would like to celebrate that first rain whenever it occurs, and potentially every time it occurs, because it allows us to save so much water (and money) because nature waters our plants for us.

The second half of the Short Mild is full of growth, which makes it prime invasive-killing time, since the goal is to pull the plants up before they go to flower in March. Currently, AZ is having a huge problem with Stinknet. This plant was categorized as merely a “noxious weed” two years ago, but after last year’s Super Bloom, there has been a huge push to cull Stinknet wherever we can. In the past year, my property went from having only two plants on it, to having a third of an acre covered in it. As such, it will now be a yearly “thing” to go out and clear out the Stinknet before it sets in.

At the peak of this season, I usually go out twice per day to remove as much as possible. I’ve learned to create something of a ritual out of it, as my household is quite allergic to the pollen, so I keep a separate set of clothes and gloves specifically for this purpose. There are also elements of learning how to lean into “doing what you can”, since its very challenging to remove every instance of an invasive species across multiple acres of land. Next year, we’d like to turn this into a community celebration, where people can come help us pull it out, and we can all have a big meal together.

Basking in the Greenness exists in the heart of the most growth during the Short Mild. This is when almost everything is at it’s prime before the heat and chinch bugs of March kick in. So this is the best time to really enjoy nature’s splendor, and eat from our local area.

Transitions: The Busiest Times of Year

The transitory months that exist between the two dominant seasons in our area are the busiest times of year for us as we harvest and process all of the growth from the past 4 months, and prepare for the changes that will be arriving once the seasons shift. Both of these periods include holidays with similar themes, which I’ve gathered together here.

Preparing the fields for growth | Sowing the Seeds for Ma’at | Gathering and Drying | Winnowing and Sorting

All of these holidays are part of the cycles of growing food. Preparing the Fields for Growth is exactly as it sounds — going out and preparing all of our beds for new seeds and new plants. This would involve adding amendments to the soil, if necessary, setting up new planters when possible, and gathering needed supplies for when we do the next holiday: Sowing the Seeds for Ma’at.

To me, seeds are very much ma’atian in nature. They contain aspects of the Nun: formless creation, the ability to become a thing, but not having embarked on that transition/journey yet. Seeds are the way in which nature helps to take care of us, and by spreading seeds and growing plants, we in turn help take care of nature. By aligning these with ma’at, you create a nice feedback loop wherein you grow ma’at, and then harvest ma’at, offer and eat the ma’at, and then gather it and save it for the next cycle next year.

Gathering and Drying and Winnowing and Sorting are both parts of the harvesting process in our house. I’m not sure how readily known this is, but a lot of the time you can do one of two things with a plant: you can eat its fruit (or vegetables,) or you can collect its seeds. It can either feed you now, or produce seeds that will feed you later. We always let at least a few plants go to seed because we’re always trying to make sure that we’re accounting for future needs. This is also because getting seeds from a plant that is grown in your area means the plant is more accustomed to your climate, and will be more hardy the more generations exist in the same climate. Since most places that produce seeds are not in the desert, its up to us to make sure that we acclimatize our seeds as best as possible. Part of this process also involves giving seeds back to the land. We always leave at least a few seeds/seed pods outside to see how they fare, and to feed the local wildlife.

All aspects of these holidays can be ritualized and involve offerings of the seeds and food harvested to the land or gods. Ideally, the harvesting and processing portions of these holidays will involve other people, and we can have a big meal and seed share to commemorate the changing of a season.

And that is currently what I have for my calendar. It’s not perfect, and there are still a lot of holes in it, but I’m sure that as the years pass, I will notice new things in the area around me, and be able to create more robust holidays that hopefully involve more people.

If you end up creating and posting your own calendar, let me know! I’d love to see how other people interpret these ideas and apply them to their local regions.

Other Posts in this Series:

 

 

 

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Creating a Calendar Around Local Ecology: Folding in Religion

So we’ve finally made it to the last post in the “tutorial” portion of this series on how to go about setting up a region-specific calendar. We’ve gone over what sorts of information to gather for this process, how to determine your seasons and come up with a basic starting point for your calendar, and how to begin to create associations to help flesh out your holiday celebrations. In this post, we’re going to talk about how to fold in elements from pre-existing religious practices, concepts, and mythologies.

Now, even if you don’t have any religious elements that you want to incorporate into your calendar, I would still recommend browsing this post, because I feel that some of the information I’m going to discuss would still be applicable to anyone embarking in this process. And, as always, this post will be written largely from a Kemetic perspective because that is what I know in terms of religions and mythology. If anyone else ends up writing info pages on this from their religious perspective, let me know and I can link it here.

Deity Associations: A Starting Point

I think one of the easiest places to start this topic from is drawing direct natural associations between the elements in your calendar/region and your deities. It seems that most polytheistic religions have deities that are tied to the sun, tied to harvest, tied to water features; and so these deities could easily be incorporated into any local/seasonal aspects that correspond to their domain. For Kemetics, that means you could focus on Re during the summer, maybe Kephri during the spring, when the sun is more “new” and fresh, and perhaps Atum-Re for the fall as the sun becomes less prominent during the winter. You could also incorporate Aten during your solar season, if your location has one.

If you have a season that’s known for having an abundance of growth in terms of either plants or fauna, you may find that you could incorporate deities tied to fecundity or farming/agriculture. Whether you’re growing these plants that you can eat, or going and foraging for things to eat, you could invoke deities on either end of either process. Asking the gods for assistance with a good growing season or good luck with foraging, and then thanking them after you’ve brought in lots of good things to eat. Folding in additional aspects of what allows this growth to happen would be another way to create new groupings of deities that aren’t specific to antiquity.

This also applies to local fauna and flora. For example, if you’ve got geese that migrate through your area, perhaps you could incorporate Geb into celebrations that occur during that “season.” Hathor has associations with oaks, so incorporating her into acorn collecting or processing might be worth considering. Wenut is tied to rabbits, which often have their own roles in local ecology that could be played into. It seems that nearly every deity collects a bunch of associations with both plants and animals, and so those could be used pretty much the same way that the seasonal associations would work.

To create an example that incorporates the last two paragraphs, if you were going to do the acorn gathering above: you could fold in Osiris for his exudations that allow for excellent soil that fosters good growth, Re for his solar properties that allows the trees to grow, Shu for the air that brings the rains to the area where these trees grow, and Hathor for her association with acorns, perhaps overlapping her joy with the joy that acorns bring to your belly when properly processed.

Of course, there are some other more nuanced ways to align these associations. For example, we’ve got something called the Ironwood tree down here in AZ. It’s a keystone species, which means its already something of a sacred plant to begin with, but there are qualities of the tree that really remind me of my gods.

First is the use of the word “iron” in its name. This often comes from two aspects of the tree’s wood: its ashen color that is similar to iron in nature, and the fact that the wood is considered very hard and very durable. There are trees that have been dead for over a century, but their remains still dot the landscape due to the high poison content that is present within the wood. Literally, the poison is what makes the wood last forever.

Second is that this tree is vital to the survival of many plants and animals throughout the desert. Each tree is said to support and play a role in the survival of over 500 other species in the desert. This tree is both a survivor and a source of sustenance. To me, this tree is a culmination of both Setian and Osirian properties. The iron associations, the ability to survive even better than other desert plants during the harshest conditions, and the use of literal poison to create a means of existing indefinitely all seem like Setian traits. The fact that the tree is responsible for the survival of many species during the worst parts of the year in AZ, the sustenance that it provides for the desert, plus its capacity to endure for literal centuries after death all feel very Osirian in nature.

What I’m trying to get at is that your associations needn’t be super direct to be applicable. Always be willing to dig deeper to find your gods in places you wouldn’t expect. There are lots of ways to see our gods in the world around us, and the more we learn about the plants and fauna that live around us, the easier it becomes to find our deities in our local area.

Once you’ve found an association that resonates with you, you could then find ways to weave it into any current practices you have. For example, I could potentially do rites for Set or Osiris under or around one of our local Ironwoods. I could also reverse that and involve Set or Osiris in any celebrations centered around Ironwood trees. Or perhaps I could find a piece of wood or seed pods to offer to the deities in question. It would also make sense to utilize the seeds as part of a food offering as well. In this way, I would be bringing a small part of where I live to each ritual that I do, thereby closing the gap between the traditional location-based practices and my local area.

Religious Symbols and Concepts

Pretty much every religious tradition has symbols, themes, and concepts that infiltrate the mythology and living practices of anyone who participates in the religion. For Kemetics, we’ve got ma’at and isfet, we’ve got trees that give life, benben mounds that herald transformation and birth, just to name a few. When you’re trying to fold your religion into your calendar, I feel that using these symbols and concepts is a good way to begin to bridge the gap.

Solar Bathing

Something that seems to have been done with some regularity in antiquity is the idea of bathing icons in sunlight. In some locations, this can be done almost anytime of the year (like Egypt,) but for those who live in places where the sun isn’t constantly visible, it may be worthwhile to pay special attention during the solar season that is present within your region. During this time, it may be beneficial to plan to take any important amulets, icons, or other religious paraphernalia outside where it can soak up some rays.

Rejuvenation and Rebirth

There were many parts of the natural world that the ancient Egyptians decided to embody in their religious symbolism in the form of rejuvenation and rebirth. There were flowers that rose and fell with the sun, blooming once the rays hit the water; that were incorporated into the mythology surrounding Nefertem, and by extension, Re. Re, of course, living a non-stop cycle of rebirth and rejuvenation that is embodied by the sun. There is also the annual cycling of the river that sustained ancient Egypt, often embodied in the mythology surrounding Osiris (at least by the later periods of Egyptian history,) and to a lesser degree, involves aspects of Sekhmet, as plague was more likely to set in when the river was running low (or completely gone.)

Most of us will have our own examples of plants that rise and set with the sun, of animals that come out to greet the sun, of plants that die back during one season only to be rejuvenated once the weather shifts later in the year. Looking for these examples in the world around us, and then seeing where they might dovetail nicely with our pre-existing stories regarding this theme will allow us to see our gods in our immediate surroundings, and provides opportunities to find new ways to celebrate the rebirth that is occurring.

Battling Isfet, Instilling Ma’at

For Kemetics, one of the biggest directives in our religion is to maintain ma’at and get rid of isfet. And if there is one thing that we could do that would help our local ecology (and therefore ma’at) probably more than anything else, its by pushing back invasive species. In a sort of juxtaposition against keystone species, invasive species are plants and fauna that actively destroy and degrade a particular ecosystem. These are usually species that existed in balance within a given ecological system, but were moved into a foreign space that they then began to take over.

Most places try to have “round ups” where people will gather and work to pull out and remove invasive plants that occur at specific times in the year (timed to the cycles of the species that are being removed, usually.) For those of us who are interested in this work, it wouldn’t be hard to create an annual holiday where you go out and join these groups of people to help push back isfet (by removing the invasive species) and help restore ma’at (because you’ll usually replace what you removed with new plants or new seeds.)

And if invasive species are not your thing, there is always trash collecting and cleaning that occurs in many places across the globe. Another way of instilling ma’at would be to learn restorative gardening and land-keeping practices, this is particularly if you happen to own or oversee any property. That way you can make sure you’re not accidentally adding to isfet by mismanaging what happens to the land that you live on.

This is, of course, not an exhaustive list, but I hope that it gives you something of an idea of how you can begin to bring your local areas and your pre-existing religious practices closer without being appropriative. In the final post of this series, I will go over some of the holidays that I’ve created for my area, and how I’m starting to work on folding religious practices into my calendar.

 

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Creating a Calendar Around Local Ecology: Developing Associations and Themes

So while we have the backbone of our calendar that was generated in the last post, you’ll note that many of these holidays lack any real direction for how to exactly celebrate them or participate in the natural shifts around you. This post and the next are here to help you flesh out your calendar by exploring ideas, themes, and associations you can link up with your holidays.

The backbone we made in the last post is meant to give you a basic framework to build around. From here, we’re going to utilize all of the information we still haven’t touched from the first post to refine what the yearly cycle in your area really looks like to you. It’s one thing to know when your summer starts and ends, or how much snow you get in the winter, but its another to know how these seasons actually play out where you live. Ideally, we will want to incorporate these elements into our yearly celebrations so that we’re genuinely connecting with the region we live in — not just a cardboard cutout that is generalized for ease of use.

Meeting Your Neighbors: Local Landforms

One of the first areas I wanted to start our layering process with is the concept of landforms. Landforms is a pretty generic term that encompasses pretty much every geological feature you’ve ever seen. This includes mountains, rock formations, lakes, valleys, etc. Taking stock of the landforms around you is essentially taking stock of the topography in which you live. Do you happen to live in a valley? on the edge of a valley? Are there any mountains nearby? Do you have any rivers or lakes that influence your area? What does the land look like where you live?

There are a couple of reasons why having this information can be useful, and which of these reasons applies to you will depend on what is most important to your individual practice.

Landforms Define Your Local Weather

First is that your local weather will be heavily influenced by the landforms closest to you. To use an example that is close to my heart, Phoenix, AZ is in the bottom of a valley that lies at the base of the Colorado Plateau. You’d think that since I’m an hour from Phoenix that my weather would be the exact same, but that’s not entirely true. I live on the southern ridge of this valley, on the north face of a series of small mountains. These mountainous landforms change the weather for me pretty dramatically. Being 600 feet higher in elevation means that my temperatures are often a few degrees cooler than Phoenix, and are about 5 degrees cooler than the closest town that is at the base of the mountains, about 20 minutes away.

Which is to say that looking at your local landforms will help to give you a better idea of how the weather works specifically where you’re at. Most of the weather information that you can pull will be from city centers and airports, and not all of us live in those specific locations where the weather data is pulled from. In order to tailor-fit your calendar, it’s best to observe whether landforms could be playing a role in your weather, and how that effects your yearly calendar.

Also keep in mind that man-made objects can also alter your weather, and if these structures are benefiting your weather patterns and systems, they may be worth incorporating into your calendar.

Landforms as Foci of Veneration

The second role that landforms can play in your calendar is to be a focus of veneration or adoration. For example, the mountain range that exists directly to the west and south of where I live often protects us from the worst monsoon storms. I have lived on both sides of what I call the “south ridge,” and I can attest that living south of this ridge means that your power will go out a lot more, and you’re more likely to have your house destroyed from the harsh weather that comes at us from across the dry river bed.

Knowing this means that I could always give thanks and attention to these mountains as we go into the monsoon season. Perhaps acknowledging that these mountains deflect the worst from us, and provide us with some amount of protection and stability in an inherently unstable season.

As another example, if you live near a large body of water, you may find that this body of water keeps your climate more temperate, as large lakes and oceans tend to take the edge off of the hottest and coldest parts of the year. Maybe you really love that your summer is nice and balmy, and would want to give thanks to this body of water for making that happen. This could involve having your celebrations at this body of water, or perhaps engaging in more direct action to protect or preserve it (whether through community action or volunteering to clean up the area, etc.)

From another angle, you may have learned that this large body of water serves as the main source of water for your local area. Knowing this, you may choose to incorporate this vital landform into your holidays, perhaps even creating a holiday that acknowledges your reliance on this water source existing. Some places where this might make sense would be in the springtime, as the snowpack begins to melt and begins to fill all of the waterways below, or to honor it during the summer, when your water supply is likely to be the most taxed for survival.

Nesting Local Ecology into Global Patterns

As you could potentially tell after reading about landforms, it becomes really easy to continue to shift the scope of your weather into a larger and bigger scale. The mountains that protect me come in contact with storm systems that are generated from the equator, and suddenly I’m looking at weather that’s happening in parts of the world I’ve never seen. To me, it helps to be able to place my local weather phenomena onto a larger scale to be able to see where my weather actually comes from, and by extension, to better understand what’s going on when my weather doesn’t behave as it normally does.

To use an example that’s familiar to some of my readership, in ancient Egypt, they knew that the inundation of the Nile was vital to their existence, but they didn’t have a full and solid understanding as to where that water actually came from. They believed it to bubble up out from the Duat in a cavern at the base of the river, but in truth, the answer is a lot more complicated and involves monsoon storms and snow packs in other parts of the continent. So in their frame of reference, you would cajole the deities that oversaw those caverns to ensure that you got enough water for the year. Where as under this model, you might cajole the monsoon rains to fall and the winter storms to bring a decent amount of snow so that there would be enough to fill your river later on.

This is also why I had you look into watershed maps. These maps will inform where your water comes from, and where you should focus your intent if you want to help ensure an appropriate amount of water comes to your area. For example, if you live somewhere whose water source relies on an aquifer being filled by a snow pack in a mountain range a few counties north of you, then it may be worth considering creating some sort of holiday that honors the role these mountains play in your survival.

Creating Associations

Part of fleshing out your calendar is having the ability to make associations between your holidays and the world around you. In this section, we’ll talk about a few ways to develop various associations in your area.

Seasonal Markers

Anything that helps to bring you to a particular time within the year would fall under this category. Put another way, these are the things that help you to notice that something is shifting around you. Usually, this would be seasonal shifts and changes, but it could also encompass other natural phenomena. Some examples of what these could be are:

  • the first flowers that pop up in spring
  • a particular type of wind that indicates that snow is coming
  • migratory animals that are only in your region for brief periods of time throughout a given year
  • the most-available natively-grown food item during your region’s “dead period” (most of you know it as winter)
  • the first things that are edible in spring, or after the “dead period”
  • the first leaves that change color during the fall

If you see it, and it lets you know that stuff around you is changing, it belongs in this category.

You could utilize these markers with the seasons they are associated with. For example, if you’re celebrating the beginning of a season, it might make sense to utilize the things that let you know this season is beginning in your holiday goings on.

Sustainers

The sustainer category is made up of anything that essentially helps to sustain your ecosystem in a particularly large way. These are essentially the keystone species that exist within your area, and would include both fauna and flora. This could also include landforms and larger ecological systems that help maintain the characteristics of your region such as a large reservoir that maintains the potable water for your area, or a particular forest that brings your seasonal rains down to where you live, or even a large tree that shades your porch in the summer.

In many ways, I would argue that this category would qualify as a sort of means of figuring out what is sacred in an area. Keystone species in particular leave a huge impact on the environment around them, so much that they are often used to gauge how healthy an ecological system is. When keystone species are removed from an ecosystem, the ecosystem is almost guaranteed to degrade and suffer until the balance is restored. As such, these species are worth protecting as much as possible, and to me, deserve sacred status where they natively occur.

Given that these species help to maintain the ecology of your region, I would argue that these species (or representations thereof, or potentially things associated with them) could be utilized in any holiday at any season. However, I also think there could be some potency in celebrating certain key times in the life cycle of the species within this category. For example, if there is a tree that is a keystone species, and it bears fruit, it might be worth celebrating when the fruit comes into season.

The Power of Observation

As a final note, we always say in permaculture that the most important skill that you can have is the skill of observation. Every year, I observe my surroundings, and every year, I discover new things. I notice new patterns that emerge, new ideas for holidays, new plant associations that form. By watching the world around you, and taking note of what you experience and when, you open up the possibility to incorporate an ever growing number of associations for your calendar.

For me, the calendar is about actively choosing to participate in the world around me. Sometimes, this means big displays of celebration or ritual. But sometimes, its nothing more than baring witness to what is going on around me. Not everything needs to be elaborate or large, and just by observing and paying attention, you are still participating in the natural patterns that occur around you. When we are not sure, or are lost on how to proceed, observation should be our fallback tool for coming up with new ideas and inspiration.

Hopefully this post has helped you to start thinking about ways you can begin to flesh out meaning and associations with your local natural settings. In the next post, we’ll discuss some ways in which religious practices can begin to be incorporated to your calendar.

 

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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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Redefining Order

Truth. Order. Justice.

The three words that I’ve seen used the most to describe ma’at.

Out of these three words, “order” always sticks out to me as potentially being a bad choice to describe ma’at. Why? Well, in short, I believe its because we tend to use one variation of “order” at the exclusion of other possible definitions. As an experiment to start the conversation off, what do you think of when you think of the word order? Maybe some of you think of

or maybe

Or maybe it’s

Even if you didn’t think of these specific examples, I’m willing to bet that whatever came to your mind shared some of the same underlying associations as the gifs above. That’s because our culture has a specific inferred meaning when we use the word “order” — whether we acknowledge those associations or not.

Whenever the word “order” is used, it’s almost always in the context of a very clear difference of power. It’s often used in terms of schools, where teachers demand order. Or in the military, where soldiers are given orders. Or even in more harmless situations, where you place an order at a restaurant. All of these things imply a situation where the person receiving the “order” is not allowed to rebuff the order. The soldier is not allowed to tell their commander “no,” students can be heavily punished for telling their teachers no, and can you imagine what would happen if a waiter told you that your order was not going to be followed or not allowed? Even when a waiter has to tell someone that something in their order isn’t available due to circumstances beyond their control, people lose their minds.

In our cultural lexicon, order usually means that you’re doing something without question. It’s a directive that you must follow, lest you get into trouble. For most of us in the US, “order” is essentially authoritarian in nature — to the point that the word “authoritarian” is used in the Oxford definition for “order.”

While there is second definition for “order,” I don’t think that most of us are using that definition when we tie the word “order” to ma’at. I’ve watched people dictate that authoritarian order is inherently implied and mandatory with ma’at simply because the Egyptians engaged in a form of it, and it overlaps with our preconceived notion of order and what it entails. Which is to say that since they so readily line up with one another via authoritarianism, I feel like most people are lazily assuming that one begets the other (authoritarian order begets ma’atian order.) What I’d really like to do with this post is challenge that notion by redefining what order could mean for us when associated with ma’at. And to also buck the idea that authoritarianism is inherent in, and therefore mandatory to, our religious structure.

A New Frame of Reference

The less-often cited definition for order usually entails things such as “a specific pattern or sequence,” such as alphabetical order, numerical order, etc. I believe that this definition is closer to what we need, but I feel that it could use refinement for our specific needs.

I would like to posit that for our needs, order would mean something along the lines of “a predictable rhythm or pattern.”

Every single living thing/system on this planet has (ideally) a rhythm, a pattern to their existence. You wake up after sleeping, you do the general same routine after you get up, you might do similar things Monday through Friday, and then do a secondary set of “similar things” on Saturday and Sunday. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. The night follows the day, and the moon is constantly shifting between being visible and completely non-existent to the naked eye.

These patterns form the basis of our existence, and the nature of our patterns often determines whether we’re healthy and having our needs met or not. In the last post about determining ma’at from isfet, I mentioned that the frequency of doing something can often turn innocuous acts into something more isfetian in nature, and this plays into the idea of regular habits and patterns. If you do something that is unhealthy once in a while, its usually not a big deal. Do it all the time, and it becomes a pattern that can slowly unravel your life.

When we’re talking about ma’atian order, we’re talking about having rhythms that help support living things. When you’re acting in ma’at, you’re acting to maintain these beneficial rhythms, while also acting to destroy, alter or remove patterns that hurt living things.

When viewed from this perspective, it explains why the Egyptians crafted tons of holidays, rituals, and actions that were consistently enacted upon to help ensure that the patterns of the Duat and earth alike were kept in regularity. Because anything that could be done to make sure that the patterns of the world stayed as consistent as possible should be done as a part of maintaining ma’at.

I also think it should go without saying that making these regular patterns as predictable as possible was also on the agenda. Humans tend to do best with a certain level of predictability in their life, and I feel like including this in the understood meaning of ma’atian order only serves to help us really understand and appreciate how important the consistency of it all really is.

The rhythm should be dynamic in the sense that it has diversity and harmony, but it still needs to have some level of regular occurrence in order to be stable. When examined on a whole, it becomes easier to see how the diversity and harmony feed into the stable complexity of it all. Everything feeds into everything else, and when the rhythm of it all is maintained, everything more or less gets its needs met.

When Authoritarian Order is Conflated with Ma’atian Order

From this perspective it becomes easier to see how authoritarian order really doesn’t synergize well with ma’at. Authoritarianism seeks to control (create “order”) everything it touches, and severely punishes anything trying to resist its control. To this end, it often seeks to divide people into two groups: and in-group (us) and an antagonistic out-group (them), and they basically use the in-group to keep the out-group in check as much as possible. You can see this in America right now in the form of loosely-made militia groups that act out a sort of vigilante justice wherever they’re allowed to.

Because the in-group always needs an out-group, authoritarianism will consistently find new demographics to attack, and in the process usually ends up eradicating the harmony and diversity necessary to keep ma’at in place. People are usually forced to live within strict confines and regulations at the risk of extreme punishment, with no real recourse to punish those who are putting the regulations in place. Ultimately, there is no means to change your fate or change the world you live in, you’re ultimately forced to deal with whatever you are given because there is little-to-no alternatives available to you. This, of course, is mentally taxing and degrading. The system as a whole may continue to exist, but its parts and pieces are not healthy, and thus are living in a form of chronic disorder (isfet.)

When you start to really examine how this system can destroy people’s health, it becomes painfully clear that by its very nature, authoritarianism does not foster ma’at. Only a tiny percent of the population really flourishes under authoritarianism, leaving the rest of the population to wither and rot.

And for those of you who are wondering if I feel that the ancient Egyptians were doing things outside of ma’at, I would say that based off of today’s standards, the answer is yes. Plenty of their population lived in unnecessary squalor due to inequality at play within the society, and I can’t say that I believe that to be within ma’at. Yes, upper class people were to look after their subjects and provide them with what they needed, but its been shown time and time again that people who are in positions of privilege and esteem typically aren’t willing to give what they have away unless they really really have to.

While I understand that a couple thousand years ago was different, and that we shouldn’t necessarily judge ancient cultures based off of today’s expectations, I also feel its our job to reflect critically on the past, not to assume that the movements of the past are inherently superior simply because they’re old. The Egyptians committed all sorts of brutal acts in the name of ma’at. If we’re able to deem these acts as being not-within-ma’at, I’m pretty sure we could find it in ourselves to do the same with their governmental system, instead of blindly trying to recreate it in the here and now.

Ma’atian Order

At its core, ma’atian order strives to bring balance and health to all of its individual components. It is a bottom-up mentality, ensuring that the smallest, yet most foundational parts are taken care of, with the understanding that healthy foundations allow everything else above it to thrive. This format allows for (relatively) predictable patterns to emerge that allows for all of the parts of the system to synchronize together. It is through the harmonization of all of the parts that allows the system to really thrive and creates the predictable “order” that everyone seeks.

It is my hope that moving forward, if the word “order” is used to define ma’at, that this is the definition that comes to mind, because this is the only definition of “order” that really makes any sense within the ma’atian paradigm.

Relevant Posts:

 

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2020 in Kemeticism, Making Ma'at, Rambles

 

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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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September Rubrics

We are in the final stretch of the calendar year, and with it, the final batch of rubrics for the year of rites project. I’ve experimented with some different methods in a few of this round’s rituals. I had read a paper about a translation of a daily offering meal from a limestone ostrakon, and in it, it discusses the benefit of using repetition within ritual structure. Since most of my rubrics have only lightly utilized repetition (if I’m honest, because I felt like I was half-assing if I decided to repeat a line four times instead of writing four unique lines,) I decided to give it a go to see how I like it. If you find you prefer one style over the other, let me know, as I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

I got rid of the purification of the ritual area because I got tired of slopping water all over my offering plate. If you’d like to keep that in, feel free to take one of the variations from an earlier rubric and throw it in after “Opening the Shrine” and before “Offering Light.”

This round’s akhu rite also utilizes a foreleg as an offering. I will be making 2D version, similar to my ma’at offerings. If you don’t have the capacity to come up with a foreleg to offer, you can do just the voice offering, or omit it entirely.


Making Ma’at

Opening the Shrine

O you dwellers in the sunshine, who bask daily in the glories of Re,
Prepare the paths for me, open for me the gates which are among the Coiled One’s,
for I know the circuit of Re and of those who are with him.
Prepare a path for me, for I am indeed alive, the heir of eternity, who passes everlasting, whom Re has placed over you.
I have seen the doubles, and the fire that goes forth, O you spirits, prepare a path for me.
Prepare a path for me, so that the fire can guide me to the place where the retinue resides.

See, you Lord of All, you who is hale, see that I have come to you.
See, you Lord of All, see with your right eye that I have come to you.
See, you Lord of All, see with your left eye that I have come to you.
See, you Lord of All, who is encompassed in beauty, see that I am before you here and now.
[open the shrine]
Awake in peace, Great God, awake in peace.
Gather yourself up and greet the new day, awake in peace.
Feel the fresh air in your divine nostrils, awake in peace.
You who makes ma’at to flourish, rise up to greet ma’at upon this day and awake in peace.

Offering Light

Greetings to you, О eye of Horus, you beacon of totality; glorious and sound
Greetings to you, О eye of Horus, who shines like Re in the double horizon.
Greetings to you, O eye of Horus, who shines in every shrine that is within the Two Lands.
Shine brightly, you eye of Horus. Extend your light over all of the Two Lands,
Shine brightly, you eye of Horus. Extend your light so that all can see.
Shine brightly, you eye of Horus. Extend your light so that ma’at prevails.

I present to you, O Lord of All, this eye of Horus, shining and complete.
O you ruler of the gods, take to this eye of Horus.
Take to yourself when you take the eye of Horus that is before you
Take to yourself that you may be renewed because of your eye.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus that you may be content because of it.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and open your eyes with it.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and renew your youth in peace.

Offering Water

I present you with water, for breath is in my nose;
I present you with water, for breath is in your nose;
I present you with water, for it rejuvenates your body;
I present you with water, for it quenches your thirst;

O Shining One, take to this eye of Horus.
Take to yourself when you take the eye of Horus that is before you
Take to yourself that you may be renewed because of your eye.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus that your thirst may be quenched because of it.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and part your lips with it.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and renew your youth in peace.

Offering Food

I bring to you your subsistence, a bounty that rejuvenates your form.
I bring to you all of the offerings that your heart desires.
Come to this subsistence, come to this bounty that will rejuvenate your form.
Come to these offerings, come to what your heart desires.

O you sole jackal in the sky, take to this eye of Horus.
Take to yourself when you take the eye of Horus that is before you
Take to yourself that you may be renewed because of your eye.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus that your hunger may be sated because of it.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and part your lips with it.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and renew your youth in peace.

Offering Ma’at

I raise up ma’at to you, O Lord of everything, take her to you.
Ma’at will be with you, in every place where you are.
Ma’at is in your presence, Lord of All, she is with you at all hours and all times.
Take your beloved daughter; she loves you, she does not withdraw from you.
Take your beloved daughter; She is your throat that fills your body,
Take your beloved daughter; she is your gullet that leads the food to your stomach;
Take your beloved daughter; for beautiful ma’at is yours great lord, you live from her, you breathe from her.
She is yours forever.

Take to this eye of Horus, Great God.
Take to yourself when you take the eye of Horus that is before you
Take to yourself that you may be renewed because of your eye.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, it is yours forever.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and renew your youth in peace.

Reversion of Offerings

O Shining One, your enemies have fallen and no longer exist.
Everything is renewed and restored throughout the Two Lands through the work of our hands.
Take these offerings to yourself as I take these offerings to myself in the name of reversion of offerings.
Release these offerings to your servant, so that I may partake of what you partake of.
So that I might be shining and whole as the NTRW.


Akhu

Opening the Shrine

O Shu, make a way for me, for I am he who restored Osiris.
I am one who has seen the Weary One in his time of suffering.
I have come and I have removed the weariness from him, as his Companions do.
I am one in the entourage of Osiris, one who goes by night and returns by day, do not repulse me upon your path,
For I have power in my foot, and I have traversed the ways that only the kites know so that I may glorify the soul of my father on this day.

I have come the pillared hall so that I may see you, great god,
I have come to you as Nehebkau to bestow divinities upon you, and to glorify your soul
which is equipped and divine; it shines as Re, it travels as Hathor, and all that you see is yours.
O Osiris, Osiris, see that I have come to you in order to set your movements in order.
O Osiris, Osiris, make a path for me on this day, for I am one who surpasses mortal men and knows your secrets,
O Osiris, Osiris, make a path for me on this day, for I am one in the entourage of Osiris,
One who goes by night and returns by day, do not repulse me upon your path,

[Open Shrine]

Awake in peace, Bull of the West, awake in peace.
Rise up and be full of life, for you are not dead.
Awake in peace, Bull of the West, awake in peace.
Raise yourself up with both of your arms
and receive these bounties of yours that have been provided for you.
Awake in peace, Bull of the West, awake in peace.
Betake yourself to me, be near to me, for I am your son Horus.
Awake in peace, Bull of the West, awake in peace.
As I enclose you within the arms of your mother Nut,
So that you may be enduring.
Awake in peace, Bull of the West, awake in peace.

Offering Light

The light of Horus shines on the horizon, his light shines for the weary ones in all of their places.
See the eye of Horus. glorious, sound and in peace.
See the eye of Horus shining like Re in the horizon.
See the eye of Horus as it drives away your the enemies.
See the eye of Horus as its light shines for you.

Come to this torch, O Weary One, it confers its protection upon you.
Come to this torch, O Weary One, which makes a light for your ka,
Come to this torch, O Weary One, which illuminates the night after the day, the eye of Horus appearing radiant in this shrine.
Come to this torch, O Weary One, which appears radiant on your forehead.
Take to yourself this eye of Horus, and renew your youth in peace.

Offering Water

I bring you this water which flows forth from the Two Caverns for you,
I bring you this water, which cleanses your temples and restores your body.
Take of this Water, O Osiris. Take this water to you.
Quench your thirst with your efflux. Quench your thirst through the waters of the Nile.
I have brought to you the Eye of Horus so that you will not be thirsty
I have brought to you the Eye of Horus so that your lips will not be dry.
I have brought to you the Eye of Horus so that you may feed on it just as Horus fed on it.
I have brought to you the Eye of Horus so that you may renew your youth in peace.

Offering Food

I bring to you your subsistence, a bounty that rejuvenates your form.
I bring to you all of the offerings that your heart desires.
Come to this subsistence, come to this bounty that will rejuvenate your form.
Come to these offerings, come to what your heart desires.

O you ba among the akhs, take to this eye of Horus.
Take to yourself when you take the eye of Horus that is before you
Take to yourself that you may be renewed because of your eye.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus that your hunger may be sated because of it.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and part your lips with it.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and renew your youth in peace.

Offering Foreleg

I have crossed the sky as the Lion on the day of butchery for you to bring to you what you desire.
I have separated the foreleg for you, you Lord of Life.
I have traversed the Two Lands with it, so that I may bring it to you.
Take the foreleg to you, beautiful one, take it to you so that it will revitalize your ka.
Take to this eye of Horus, Great God.
Take to yourself when you take the eye of Horus that is before you
Take to yourself that you may be renewed because of your eye.
Take to yourself the strength in the eye of Horus.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and renew your youth in peace.

Offering Ma’at

I raise up ma’at to reside with you, she takes her place in every place where you are.
Ma’at is in your presence, she is with you at all hours and all times.
Take your beloved ma’at; she loves you, she does not withdraw from you.
Take your beloved ma’at; She is your throat that fills your body,
Take your beloved ma’at; she is your gullet that leads the food to your stomach;
Take your beloved ma’at; for she is with you great lord, you live from her, you breathe from her.

Take to this eye of Horus, Great God.
Take to yourself when you take the eye of Horus that is before you
Take to yourself that you may be renewed because of your eye.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, it is yours forever.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and renew your youth in peace.

Reversion of Offerings

O Weary One, your enemies have fallen and no longer exist.
Everything is renewed and restored throughout the Two Lands through the work of our hands.
Take these offerings to yourself as I take these offerings to myself in the name of reversion of offerings.
Release these offerings to your servant, so that I may partake of what you partake of.
So that I might be shining and whole as the NTRW.


Propitiation

Opening the Shrine

O you Protector of the land, rise within the horizon, and take control of the sky that is yours.
You make the Two Lands content through the work of your hands, your joy is for you.
The hearts of both of the Enneads are content when they see you filled with joy,
See that you are in the midst of your entourage and supporters, and so your joy is for you.

O hearts of the Enneads, you who are filled with contentment on this day,
Prepare a path for me so that I may pass by.
I know this path well, for it leads to my mistress, the Great Gold.
The Sistrum-player is in my body, and the scent of my mother calls to me.
O hearts of the Enneads, you know the joy that issues forth when she is propitiated and firm upon her seat.
Prepare a path for the equipped spirit in me,
For I have prepared a path to the place where Re is, to the place where Hathor is.
So that I may make manifest the beauty of my goddess.

[open shrine]

I kiss the earth as the sight of your beauty, O Great Gold
I worship my mistress, for I have seen her beauty;
I bring these bounties to my mistress, for I have seen her beauty;
I give praise to Hathor, for I have seen her beauty.
She appears here in this place before me, your shape is distinguished above the gods, and I see your beauty.

Offering Light

I strike the flint to light the way ahead for you, Great Gold.
I strike the flint to ensure that there is always a light shining in your shrines.
I strike the flint that brings the fire that drives away the enemies of the Two Lands
I strike the flint so that there will always be light to see the way.

Take this light to yourself and be cleansed by it.
Take this light to yourself and be made pure by it.
Take this light to yourself and be made whole by it.
Take this light to yourself and renew your youth in peace.

Offering Water

I present you with water, it brings brilliance to your ka;
I present you with water, it is what flows forth from you;
I present you with water, it rejuvenates your body;
I present you with water, it quenches your thirst;

O Shining One, take to this eye of Horus.
Take to yourself when you take the eye of Horus that is before you
Take to yourself that you may be renewed because of your eye.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus that your thirst may be quenched because of it.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and part your lips with it.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and renew your youth in peace.

Offering Food

I bring to you your subsistence, your nourishment, your ka.
Your divinities are for you, come to them and take them to yourself.
Take to these your offerings, filled with what you love.
I appease your heart with what you love, for your majesty is great when you are filled with joy.

Truly, your heart becomes green when you take this Eye to you.
Truly, your heart becomes green when you are renewed because of your eye.
Truly, your heart becomes green when your hunger is sated because of it.
Truly, your heart becomes green when you part your lips with it.
Truly, your heart becomes green when you renew your youth in peace.

Offering Ma’at

I raise up Ma’at to you, behold Ma’at as the fiery Eye of Horus, take her to you.
Your Ma’at is for you, O Protector, Ma’at is with you in every place where you are, she destroys all who stand against her.
Ma’at is in your presence, she is with you at all hours and all times.
Take your beloved Ma’at; she loves you, she does not withdraw from you.
Take your beloved Ma’at; She is your throat that fills your body,
Take your beloved Ma’at; she is your magic, which is effective;
Take your beloved Ma’at; she is your essence, you live from her, you breathe from her.
She is yours forever.

Take to this eye of Horus, Bountiful Goddess.
Take to yourself when you take the eye of Horus that is before you
Take to yourself that you may be renewed because of your eye.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, it is yours forever.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and renew your youth in peace.

Reversion of Offerings

O you Glittering Gold, your enemies have fallen and no longer exist.
Everything is renewed and restored throughout the Two Lands through the work of our hands.
Take these offerings to yourself as I take these offerings to myself in the name of reversion of offerings.
Release these offerings to your servant, so that I may partake of what you partake of.
So that I might be shining and whole as the NTRW.


Execration

Be seated Great Gods, in the presence of Geb, the chiefest of the netjeru
For I am Horus, with ma’at upon my brow.
Aset bore me, Khebet raised me, Set served me over and above his own powers,
and Osiris has given me both of his staffs as proof of my Power.
I am at the Head of the Enneads. I am at the head of my father, and at the head of the living.
I have taken control of the Two Lands as Horus the Lord of Justice,
and I stop the movements of those who threaten the netjeru or their followers.

O you of whom the Double Lion is afraid, see that I see you, hiding inside the Cavern of the Rebel.
You have uttered rebellion against Ma’at
You have created discord throughout the Two Lands, which are guarded by the Great Demolisher.
A light has been kindled against you in the Mansions of Sepa,
And you will be destroyed upon this day.

Get back, you watchful one, who changes shape, who conveys away souls, who drags away hearts;
Be destroyed, for I am Geb, chiefest of the gods, and Atum, Lord of being, and I have power over you.
The power of the Hidden One acts as proxy for me, Ptah stands up for me, and I have power over you.
My champion is Thoth, his strength is in my arm, his might is in my mouth, and I have power over you.
I have taken possession of the might of Atum; and I have power over you.
I go on my feet, my speech is in my mouth when I smite my foes,
I have come against this foe of mine, who has been given to me
and you will not escape from me; for I have power over you.

Anyone on heaven or earth who shall stand against ma’at, my magic will drive them off.
The fire will go up, the flame will go up from the bellies of those who creep,
and the fiery one will be against them as the Eye of Re.

*Take up your piece of paper, this is where you get to yell at it, stomp on it, tear it up, light it on fire, etc. Follow the prompts in the rubric or do what you feel. Get cathartic.*

Get back a/pep, get back you rebel of Ra
O Bowel, be destroyed before Ra, for I know the evil that you create.
The knife of the execution-block is in your flesh!
Taste the cutting of the Great God!
Your head is cut off! Your body is cut into pieces!
You are powerless against my Effectiveness!
Be spat upon oh enemy of ma’at!
Feel the weight of my legs as my foot crushes your body.
Flames cut into your face! Fire consumes your soul!

Wither and rot from the magic in my mouth!
Be put to the fire and be destroyed! Be fallen and crushed!
Thoth’s fingers are in your eyes and his magic has laid hold of you.
Your form is annihilated, your shape is destroyed in all of its places and forms.
You are rendered impotent, your soul does not exist.
Your seat does not exist. Your children do not exist.
You are utterly destroyed in every place.

__

Opening the Shrine

I have come down into the land of the Silent One,
I have been equipped because of the vulture and the favor she has for me.
I am Khopri who came into being of himself upon his mother’s lap;
See, this magic of mine has been brought to me; I have gathered together this magic of mine
Wherever the foe stood, I was quicker than a hound; speedier than Shu.
Wherever the foe stood, my magic was effective and exacting.

O you entourage of Re, I have driven off the rebel, I have made A/pep impotent,
O you NTRW, I protected you and have shut fast the jaws of your foes;
I have seized him who would take you to his place of slaughter.
Your protection comes to you and your son Sopd the sharp-toothed acts as protector from whoever would harm you.
Your heavens are established and your cities are firmly rooted.
The Two Lands are in joy, and the hearts of all of the NTRW are glad
for a/pep has fallen into the fire.
All of the foes of all of the NTRW are fallen.
All of the NTRW are triumphant over their enemies.
I stand behind the NTRW and make their arms strong
so that their enemies may be destroyed, as I have on this day.

Offering Light

Be mighty, be mighty, О eye of Horus!
Be mighty over isfet in every place that it resides, that enemy who has wrought great evil,
It is your fire that burns his limbs,
It is your fire that burns his flesh,
It is your fire that eradicates his form, in every place he resides.
It is your fire that destroys him entirely, in your name, the Eye of Horus.

I offer you this eye of Horus, you glorious NTRW.
This eye of Horus alights in every shrine that is your, in every place that is yours.
Take to yourself when you take the eye of Horus that is before you
Take to yourself that you may be renewed because of your eye.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus that you may be content because of it.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and open your mouth with it.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and renew your youth in peace.

Offering Water

Your water is yours, your flood is yours, being abundant.
Raise yourself, receive these waters from me, your servant.
I pour for you the primordial water to satisfy your statue;
I pour for you the primordial water to satisfy your thirst;
I pour for you the primordial water to satisfy your body;
I have brought you this Eye of Horus and placed it at your feet.

Take to yourself when you take the eye of Horus that is before you
Take to yourself that you may be renewed because of your eye.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus that your thirst may be quenched because of it.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and part your lips with it.
Take to yourself the eye of Horus, and renew your youth in peace.

Offering Food

A/pep has fallen and his meat is on the fire,
I offer his fat to you, see that his fat is on the fire.
I offer his fat to you, so that it may sate your hunger.
I offer his confederates to you, see their bones beneath your feet.
I offer his confederates to you, see that they do not exist.

Take this sustenance to you, allow it to fill your belly and fuel your body.
Take this sustenance to you, so that you may be renewed because of your eye.
Take this sustenance to you, that your hunger may be sated because of it.
Take this sustenance to you, and renew your youth in peace.

Offering Ma’at

Behold Ma’at as the fiery Eye of Horus.
Her exacting justice has cast out the rebels, and her magics were exacting in the bodies of your foes.
I raise up Ma’at to you, O you glorious Enneads, take her to you.
Your Ma’at is for you, O Great Gods, Ma’at is with you in every place where you are, she destroys all who stand against her.
Her fire has gone out, sought out the rebels, and her flame has destroyed them.
Truly, your enemies are destroyed, and Ma’at triumphs in your space.

Ma’at is in your presence, she is with you at all hours and all times.
Take your beloved Ma’at; she loves you, she does not withdraw from you.
Take your beloved Ma’at; She is your throat that fills your body,
Take your beloved Ma’at; she is your gullet that leads the food to your stomach;
Take your beloved Ma’at; for beautiful ma’at is yours, you live from her, you breathe from her.
She is yours forever.

Reversion of Offerings

O you NTRW, your enemies have fallen and no longer exist.
Everything is renewed and restored throughout the Two Lands through the work of our hands.
Take these offerings to yourself as I take these offerings to myself in the name of reversion of offerings.
Release these offerings to your servant, so that I may partake of what you partake of.
So that I might be shining and whole as the NTRW.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2019 in Kemeticism, Making Ma'at, Year of Rites

 

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Isfet as a System

Before you read this post, you absolutely have to read part one first. Otherwise, nothing will really make sense.

In the last post in this series, I left off with discussing why ma’at should be considered a regenerative system, but in order to explain why we should view ma’at in this fashion, we really need to discuss isfet, and then place both concepts side by side in order to see how they function together. In many ways, in order to understand one, I feel you really need to look at both at the same time.

So to get this started, let’s talk about the harbinger of degeneration: disorder.

The role of disorder

Ironically, we have a definition for disorder within natural systems: any resource that can not be used productively by an organism. That is to say, if you get too much of a Thing, even if its a Really Good Thing, you are being thrown into disorder. In terms of keeping natural systems healthy, any natural system really needs to have moderation in all of its parameters, which often times will be summed up as “a healthy level of stress.” Key word here being: healthy. In the same way that our muscles atrophy without use, other parts of systems begin to fall apart if they are never remotely pushed, challenged, or introduced to change (in nature, this usually is changing of seasons, fauna, etc.)

You can see what disorder in natural systems looks like by looking at the weather patterns of 2019. The midwest got too much rain and too much snow. The southwest hasn’t gotten enough heat or rain. Texas has gotten too much rain too early, and is not getting enough now. All of these are examples of ecosystems getting too much or too little of a resource; they are all examples of regenerative systems rubbing against disorder (which is a nice way of saying climate change.)

Too much of something will always result in disorder. Disorder and dysfunction are the gateways to a regenerative system becoming degenerative (isfet.)

We see this time and time again within our own mythological stories, where excess often results in harm or bad things happening, even if what you’re excessing on is not inherently bad. For example, Re’s excessive fear and pride led to his releasing his Eye out onto the world. Her excessive blood lust caused a lot of destruction that Re then had to go and remedy (with more excess — drinking, in this case.) Osiris got a big ol welt on his head from his Atef crown because he was being so vane and arrogant.

When viewed from this lens, it stands to reason why Set often gets classified as necessary chaos or necessary change (he is also a god of excess, showing that the NTRW can also waver in terms of their own balance and moderation.) As I mentioned above, systems need to be pushed sometimes in order to stay healthy. Nothing lives in a vacuum, and so all systems must continually grow and adapt to the ever-changing world around them. When properly handled and balanced, the chaos that Set brings is supposed to be this sort of stress that allows things to grow into something more than they currently are. When the deceased talks about Set “serving [me] above and beyond his own powers,” they are talking about the fact that Set’s service to all of us is supposed to be that useful, healthy stress that pushes us to level up.

The problem is, we don’t live in a healthy regenerative system, and so this disorder often hits harder than it should, and if left unchecked, it becomes very easy for a regenerative system to recoil from any contact with any disorder, ultimately pushing it closer and closer towards becoming degenerative.

Isfet: degeneration in action

If you are continually given more of a Thing than you can handle, it results in disorder within a system or systems. Disorder is what happens when we stray from the moderation and predictable cycling of nature that is necessary to maintain all regenerative and natural systems. In this respect, frequent or constant disorder is a symptom, a warning sign that you’re beginning to slide into isfetian territory. That something within your system is not jiving with some other aspect of another system, and as a result, the quality and health of that system is slowly shifting towards becoming degenerative.

For better or worse, it’s pretty easy to map out what a system starts to do when it begins to slide into degeneration:

  1. Reduction of predictable cycles and resources, causing general disorder within the system.
  2. As general disorder increases, lack of proper synchronization between members of the system occurs, exacerbating the resource distribution further.
  3. Lack of resources leads to excessive stress on all organisms in the systems
  4. Critical mass is reached, and parts of the ecosystem begin to collapse, biodiversity begins to drop.
  5. Reduction of keystone species causes widespread collapse. A single member of a keystone species often supports (usually) hundreds-to-thousands of other organisms at any given time.
  6. Once keystone species begin to disappear, the entire system faces a reduction of resiliency overall. If left unchecked, the system will completely disappear or become “dead” for all intents and purposes.

To see how this sort of situation pans out in real time, all you need to do is look at climate change and desertification. Human activity has caused too much stress to be put onto too many natural systems, and now those systems are slowly (and yet oh-so-quickly) shifting into disorder. As the disorder increases, the cycles that mark stable regenerative systems become more and more out of alignment and out of sync. From there, systems begin to fail. Forests turn into scrub land, scrub land into desert, desert into dunes. The soil supports less and less plant growth, so less and less organisms can be supported by the same amount of land. You get increasingly bad natural disasters and you begin to have winter in May.

For examples on a smaller scale, it’s that moment when you grab a cigarette instead of handling your feelings. It’s when you stay up late on your phone instead of going to bed at a healthy time, or choose to escape into the television instead of handling problems. It’s all of those small little things that detract from our overall well being that we do because we think its harmless.

All of these things are examples of a system being dragged out of regeneration into degeneration. And it’s affecting all of us, because we’re all natural, regenerative systems relying for our survival on a much larger series of natural systems that are being dragged into isfetian territory.

The importance of scale and context

One of the biggest things I wanted to make sure to clarify is that in many situations, isfet is not a singular action, but a series of actions or a trend that occurs over a period of time. Disorder is often like a crescendo: it starts off small and quiet. A few things here, a few things there. But then it slowly builds until it becomes a pattern, a habit, a trend. Something that happens consistently time and time again, which slowly takes a toll on the resilience of the system it is antagonizing.

To pick on climate change again, it wasn’t just one farmer that caused our soil to degrade. It wasn’t just one car that polluted the air. It wasn’t just one billionaire or CEO hiding key information about how we’re destroying the planet. No, it was millions of cars, hundreds of farmers and fields, and many many years of people in positions of power purposefully choosing to ignore the writing on the wall while the planet slowly degraded in the background. It’s not just one action, its lots of little actions that have built on one another to create a wave.

Similarly, the solution to something like climate change won’t be one simple action, either. It takes many many actions to degrade, and it takes many many actions to rebuild.

This is vital to understand because we must always examine situations within their wider context. We must always look at trends, because while exceptions to a rule can exist, it also belies that there is a rule, a trend, that this exception is pushing against.

This is why the balance of ma’at is so necessary. Regenerative beings need specific things in order to survive, and when that balance gets thrown into disarray, everything that system touches is effected on some level. While it’s not just a singular action that will cause a system to degenerate, at the same time, it is still very easy for things to quickly degrade and shift from bad to worse. It’s why the gods would have needed to be persistent and diligent with fighting back isfet.

I mentioned in the first post that in this modern era we have built up this sort of facade that we are somehow separate and untouchable from the natural systems we were born into, but its simply not true. The more degenerative the system we live in becomes, the more necessary and, frankly, involuntary it’ll be for people to participate in fixing the problems at hand.

Maintaining ma’at is the responsibility of all of us. Even if you’re avoiding it now, eventually you may not have that luxury.

In my next post, I’ll discuss how to apply this model to aspects of our lives to see if it is harmful and isfetian in nature, or if its helping to sustain or increase ma’at in the world.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2019 in Kemeticism, 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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