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New Years 2019

The day dawned cold and wet this new years. I got up before the sun was even up and tried to get everything together for the rites that I wanted to conduct. I had made an attempt to prep everything the night before, but it never fails that the details slip through the cracks for me anymore. Being in the center of 3 other people whose needs and schedules can change quickly, and being a disabled person whose body tends to have its own plans on any given day, it became pretty clear to me before I had even uttered the first word of my ritual that I shouldn’t expect any of the plans that I make for my Year of Rites to be too rigid or concrete, otherwise I would be running headlong into disaster and disappointment.

The first portion of the rite went with minimal issues, and if I could sum it up succinctly, it’d be “I said some words into a cabinet.” Both portions of the ritual I did could be summed up the same way. There is no amazing woo to tell anyone about because, honestly, nothing happened. At all. In that department.

Over the weeks that led up to this, I kept being told that this year was not about Set and Osiris. That it was about the entire pantheon, all of the NTRW, and so I decided to reconfigure the shrine for this year to reflect that. Set and O are sitting around among my other tchotchkes and I opted to make a flat image to use as an icon for this year.

 

I wanted the background to hearken to the Nun, a place that I often see as a place for both death and rebirth. I chose to make the symbols in red and then layer over them with gold and blue. The redness reminding me of the vitality and vibrancy that is within our gods, regardless of how hidden it might become. And I chose to put them on a symbol for gold (nebu) for reasons that I don’t really understand except that it felt Right so I did it.

While I originally had planned on doing the execration during the day and following up with part two in the afternoon, that schedule I mentioned shifted and I ended up doing the execration in the evening, as the sun set. As such, the second rite and subsequent offerings didn’t happen until well after the sun had set.

 

I was partway through my ritual when I remembered that I hadn’t finished my New Years Cloth offering… and so I had to make that while I left the gods to eat their offerings.

I opted to use gold marker and I chose symbols that appeared on the illustration in the book, as well as symbols that I felt would be beneficial for the NTRW in the upcoming year.

And of course, there are the four oranges.

 

Reflections:

One thing that I really noticed during this ritual was that I really am not as pensive or uptight about rituals as I used to be. While I was slightly “ugh” over the fact that certain details got missed, or that I hadn’t finished my offerings before the ritual had been started, etc. — overall, I was just as content and ready to roll with the punches and let the gods deal with it. I wasn’t as concerned with achieving a certain vibe as I had been in the past, and the total mundanity (is that a word??) of it all was quite comforting for me in a way that I didn’t entirely expect. This setup was more formal than what I’ve done in the past, and I think that additional structure helps, but overall it felt less like being under pressure to be perfect and Pious and more like “this is just a thing that I do.”

I also found myself really mulling over the fact that Zep Tepis aren’t always perfect or easily seen. I wanted to be able to time my rites with the sunrise, to allow the sun to really drive home that things were starting anew, but then the clouds covered the sun until about 9am. But when its all said and done, does it really matter? Do I really need the symbolic Zep Tepi to know that I’ve started?

It’s a lot like how most people approach New Years in general. Everyone waits for this symbolic restart, this symbolic date to decide to change themselves. And yet despite waiting for this symbolic date, most of us don’t actually see our changes through to the end of January. I wrote a long time ago about how your Zep Tepi could begin at any time, any place. That waiting for Jan 1 was not necessary, and in some cases, completely unhelpful because of the pressure it puts on you to be perfect straight out the gate.

That the best Zep Tepis pass unnoticed in the very moment when we decide to start working towards something better. That change is not one singular Big Event that causes us to change everything about ourselves. That change is made in tiny, seemingly insignificant choices that can build up to Big Events later on. That the best changes happen incrementally, not overnight when the calendar resets and the year changes.

While I was waiting for some sort of sign that symbolically signaled the changes we’re all undergoing, it became very easy to miss the very real fact that my Zep Tepi happened months ago. This Year of Rites didn’t just magically manifest overnight. I didn’t just wing my ritual. No, this has been in the works since August on some levels, since November on other levels, and since late December for the rest. Just because I didn’t have some awe-inspiring moment in shrine didn’t mean that the work hadn’t been done, or that the work didn’t matter or bear fruit.

Or as I wrote it in my log: Sometimes our Zep Tepi isn’t momentous. Sometimes it passes without notice. Its still important because any time we choose — consciously or not — to improve ourselves, we’re getting closer to ma’at, and that is the point in all of this.

May all of your Zep Tepis in 2019 be amazing — noticed or otherwise.

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Posted by on January 2, 2019 in Kemeticism, Year of Rites

 

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A Year of Rites

Ever since I moved into my grandmother’s place, I’ve felt the urge to do a daily rite of some kind. I knew that I didn’t want to do the standard daily rites that are common in Kemeticism, because at the time, I wasn’t really eager to see O or Set anytime soon. Since I didn’t know what to do that would be helpful, but not involve my gods, I put the idea on a shelf and went about my business.

Fast forward to November, when O shows up and tells me that he would like me to consider doing successive rituals for the entirety of the following year (2019.) I expected him to try and sell me on how I would benefit from doing this for him, but he really didn’t suggest much. If anything, I think he knew it would tap my ego when it saw a challenge that it wasn’t sure it could hack — but ultimately wants to be able to say was effectively hacked. Almost like doing a thru-hike, you’re doing it partially just to see if you actually can. And so instead of trying to cajole me into doing it, he let me cajole myself into doing it.

And so, in the spirit of seeing if this is something I can actually hack, I give you “A Year of Rites.”

This “Year of Rites” will consist of four rituals per moon cycle, as per O’s original parameters. Each ritual will have its own theme and is placed at specific times within the moon cycle. These themes are then repeated around the same time each moon cycle, creating a sort of monthly rhythm.

So far, here is the general schedule and method that I’ve worked out:

New Moon/Day after New Moon: Monthly Ma’at

I chose to place the Monthly Ma’at rites around the new moon as a means of taking what is essentially a “blank canvas” that is the moon cycle, and infusing it with ma’at from day one. As such, I want to time these rites as close to the New Moon as possible. Here is the tentative schedule for the Monthly Ma’at rites:

Jan 7
Feb 4
Mar 6
April 5
May 6
June 3
July 2
July 31
Aug 30
Sept 30
Oct 28
Nov 26
Dec 26

Full Moon: Propitiation Rites

I am admittedly still a little unclear about what I will be doing for these rites. As I understand it, O would like me to mimic propitiation rites that occurred in antiquity, mainly centered around Sekhmet, Hathor, Khonsu, or Iyrt Ra in general. I think that I will initially start with the longform rite that Reidy wrote for Sekhmet, and see if I can use it as a base to create other rites that I could do for this category.

I chose to perform these rites around full moon due to the references of muuet and other nefarious entities being more prominent in the second half of the moon cycle (Roberts). I felt it best to propitiate the gods that oversee these negative forces before the dark side of the moon even begins to show its face. This is my tentative schedule for these rites:

Jan 18
Feb 19
Mar 20
April 19
May 17
June 17
July 16
Aug 15
Sept 13
Oct 11
Nov 12
Dec 11

Waning Moon: Execration Rites

Almost anyone reading should be pretty familiar with execration rites at this point, so I wasn’t going to bother with explaining them in-depth, but I will mention that these are meant to be a little bit more involved than some of my past execrations, in that I will be attempting to do more formal-styled execrations (such as what you see in Reidy’s book) for 2019. As for the timing, I chose to place these during the waning moon phase as a means to push back any negative forces that have managed to surface since the moon has begun to “shrink” or disappear. Unlike most of the other phases, this section has the most flexibility with timing, and I will likely do an execration on the first day of 2019, similar to how we would for Wep Ronpet, to insure that the year is as prosperous as possible. Here is the tentative schedule for the execration rites:

Jan 1
Jan 28
Feb 26
Mar 27
April 26
May 27
June 25
July 24
Aug 23
Sept 20
Oct 21
Nov 19
Dec 18

Not-Affiliated-with-the-Moon: 6th Day Akhu Rites

The akhu rites that I was asked to perform are supposed to be modeled somewhat after the 6th day rites that would have been performed in antiquity. Since I’ve got rites occurring around the 6th in several months, I will potentially shift some of these rites to the 7th or 10th day of each month, since I’ve read that it was not uncommon for akhu rites to occur on those days as well. To start with, I will be using Reidy’s akhu rites, but I have been asked to draft another version based off of the “Ancestor Ritual” of Amenhotep I by the end of the year. This is the tentative schedule for the akhu rites:

Jan 10
Feb 6
Mar 7
April 10
May 10
June 6
July 10
Aug 6
Sept 6
Oct 7
Nov 6
Dec 6

After each ritual is done, I will be doing a write-up discussing what I experienced, learned, or did for each rite. Whether these will be weekly, or combined into one monthly post, I’m not sure. However, all of them will be labeled as “Year of Rites” and will be tagged as such. If anyone else would like to participate, feel free to throw your experiences/write-ups into the “Year of Rites” tag, and I will place them at the bottom for others to view. For any custom rites that I create, I can post rubrics for others to follow if there is interest (I’ll be posting what I draft up for Making Ma’at no matter what.)

I know that the schedule is rigorous, but part of me can’t help but wonder how such an experience will change me. I look forward to seeing where this venture takes me.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2018 in Kemeticism, Making Ma'at, Year of Rites

 

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Making Ma’at 2k19

Earlier this summer I found myself mulling over Wep Ronpet and the yearly execrations that most of us perform for that holiday — specifically as it relates to ma’at. I’ve read in several places over the years that whenever you remove isfet from the world, you should seek to replace it with ma’at. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I don’t think many of us do anything after an execration to fill that newly-made void with ma’at.

That led me to ponder — is it a problem that we don’t have any sort of ritualized method to bring ma’at into this newly-created void? This stuck out to me because my assumption would be that if you remove isfet and don’t actively replace it with ma’at, the things that are most likely to slide back into that place are the things of least resistance – aka, more isfet. And if that is the case, it begs me to ask — are our execrations doing any good if we don’t supplement ma’at after the fact?

When I originally brought it up on our discord server, most of the people that commented did confirm that they don’t necessarily do anything related to ma’at after an execration. There was also an interest expressed in creating resources for our community to utilize to help other Kemetics bring more ma’at into our world. This led to me and secondgenerationimmigrant discussing ideas that involved community participation, which we then felt out over on tumblr.

After weeks of kicking this around, debating what to call it or tag it, what platforms to use, who to invite, etc. we finally ironed out the first phase of this project, which I’d like to introduce to you now.

Making Ma’at: What is it?

Making Ma’at is a project that will span all of 2019 (or longer, possibly) wherein we are asking all members of the Kemetic community to bring forth ideas, thoughts, and actions that help to generate more ma’at within the world. This project has the ability to span multiple mediums and will incorporate several methods that should allow for everyone to participate to whatever degree they feel comfortable.

Currently, there are two main aspects of Making Ma’at: collaborative writing and regular ritual work that has been dubbed “Monthly Ma’at”.

Collaborative Writing

The collaborative writing portion of this project is currently happening over on Penflip. Penflip is a platform where anyone can create an account for free. You’d just log into our project, and then you’ll be able to add new writing ideas, suggest changes to already-existing works, and collaborate with other Kemetics who are participating.

We have created a layout with various ritual components that we are hoping the community can help create and give feedback on. This includes hymns to and about ma’at, litanies, ritual pieces that can be added to daily rites, execrations, or other more-involved rituals. There are many directions that the collaborative writing could go in, and we’re hoping that the community will explore as many venues as possible.

Since Penflip can be difficult for those on mobile devices, if you wish to participate but find the platform too difficult to use, please feel free to reach out to me or SGI directly, and we’ll get your changes/writings added to the Penflip (and yes, you will be cited for whatever you write/add/change.) For those of you on tumblr with this issue, you could leave your posts/changes in the #makingma’at tag with express permission to add them to the Penflip, and we’ll take care of it.

Ultimately, if this project gets big enough, we may look into a better platform that requires a subscription to use. But for now, we’re starting very low cost. Also, if this portion of the project is successful, we will eventually be compiling everyone’s work into a downloadable PDF (or possibly a printed book, if people want it) so that everyone can have a copy of everything that’s been made.

Monthly Ma’at

Monthly Ma’at is the second half of this project, and it is tied to another side project I’ll be posting about next week. But for now suffice to say that this portion of the project is very similar to the “Poopocalypse 2k15” we did a while back in that it involves monthly rites that people can perform. Except in this case, they’re specifically to help generate ma’at in the world. I will be drafting up a ritual or two for people to use to get started before the first ritual of the new year hits, but I hope that others will make more rites to pick from and utilize in 2019.

I personally will be performing these rites around New Moon or the day after New Moon, to help direct the energy that the moon is gaining to be more in alignment in ma’at, which I’ll explain in more detail in next week’s post.

What if I’m not a formal writer/rituals kind of person?

When coming up with this project, it was asked if community members could use other means to generate ma’at beyond writing prose or performing rites, and my personal answer to this is “yes.” While our current structure is mainly focusing on rituals and ritual components, I welcome everyone reading to find other ways to generate ma’at in your life this year, and to share those experiences within the #makingma’at tag. I think that the more discussion we can generate around how to make ma’at more manifest, the better.

So while we’re waiting for me to finish writing up all of the details of Monthly Ma’at, please feel free to check out the Penflip and start submitting your own texts, rites, etc. for others to view. We look forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2018 in Kemeticism, Making Ma'at, Year of Rites

 

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The Magic of a Hug

I want to talk about how magical and religious hugs really are.

No seriously.

This concept started with a conversation. I was talking on Facebook with another Kemetic who happens to be blind. She was asking about the ka embrace. This was a particular sticking point for her because she didn’t happen to have an icon of the deity she worshiped. Why would she? It makes perfect sense, really. She wasn’t sure what to do about the ka embrace portion- there was no point in buying an icon just for the ka embrace, but it seemed wrong to completely omit such an important part of the daily ritual.

For those of you who don’t know what the “ka embrace” is, its a section in Reidy’s daily ritual where you ritually embrace the icon. This action transfers your ka energy into the statue, thereby animating it and rejuvenating it. Hieroglyphically, it would look a lot like this:

So what do you do if you don’t have an icon?

I said the answer was simple: hug yourself.

I know, it sounds funny. But I think that we don’t give enough credit to what the ka embrace (and hugging) accomplishes on so many levels. On the most basic level, you have the sentiment that comes with giving a hug- happiness, consolation, a sense of understanding or care. Usually, when it’s given freely between two people, a hug is comfort and human connection. In Egyptian symbolism, an embrace is a sign of protection and usually shows an intimate relationship between two entities (Reading Egyptian Art, Wilkinson). But this is only one layer of symbolism. Let’s go a little deeper, shall we?

The act of comfort and protection are good- but its also a sign of love in most modern contexts. So to hug yourself could also be read as a form of self love. When you weave in the concepts of transferring the ka, you’re replenishing and renewing your own energy. You’re funneling love and protection and all of that fun stuff right back into you. And we all know that the gods are all for self love (NSFW).

But Devo, you’re not a deity. You can’t replace a deity icon with yourself- because you’re not a deity, right?

Wrong! Most Kemetic myths have everything coming from the Nun and a Creator deity (or set of Creator deities). Therefore, everything is divine. You, me, the table my computer is sitting on. We all come from the same place, and so at our most basic level, we’re all made with the same divine stuff. So why couldn’t you swap out a deity’s icon with yourself in this case? You’re embracing your divinity (for lack of better word) and acknowledging the divinity that is within you. Once again, all good things that help to build you up, which typically helps to make you a more stable person- which always benefits the gods. Plus, if you subscribe to the idea that all of ours kau go back to the original ka of the Creator deity- in a way, you’re transferring your energy to your ka- and so on and so on down the line to the gods themselves.

It seems to me that hugging yourself could be an offering to the gods all by itself. So maybe the next time you’re in a pinch for rituals, or want to give the gods something on the fly, you should give them a hug by hugging yourself.

Relevant Posts:

 

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Kemetic Round Table: Ritual purity – what does that mean for my practice?

The Kemetic Roundtable is a new blogging project. Go here to learn more about it!

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Ritual purity is a really interesting topic in the Kemetic sphere. What makes it interesting is that there are such extremely different views and approaches on it. Everything in regards to ritual purity really needs a “Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV)” tag on it, and most approaches to ritual purity are very personal.

So, what is ritual purity?

Ritual purity is the idea that certain rituals require certain levels of cleanliness or grooming requirements before performing them. I don’t like using the word “pure” because it is a baggage laden word for many of us. So let’s use “clean” instead.

To bring it out of a religious context and into a more mundane aspect: let’s consider social standards for day to day activities. As you go about life, there are certain activities that require more formality and/or cleanliness than others. For example, you don’t necessarily need to shave and shower before you go to the gym. It’s understood that you will be getting sweaty while there- and you don’t need to be all prim and proper before showing up. However, it’s fairly common to dress up and make sure you’re really clean before going to a job interview- because you’re trying to make a good impression. Similarly, it’s common to want to be somewhere in the middle of these extremes for family get togethers or a party. Using parties as an example- you will likely need less time to get ready for a child’s party over a cocktail party. The grooming standards for a child’s party are generally fairly low. Where as cocktail parties require more grooming and cleaning before hand.

In short, different events have different standards of how you should look – which can translate into how much grooming you perform before the event.

Much like events, ritual purity states that certain rituals require more cleanliness preparation than others. As an example, in ancient Egypt, state rites had very specific (and sometimes very intricate) ritual cleanliness standards. Where as the average Joe Hotep was likely to only be washing his hands before he performed any rites at his household shrine. Most of the ritual standards that we know of today (like most of everything we know about Egyptian religion today) were applicable to the priests of ancient Egypt – not the common man.

What types of restrictions were included in ritual cleanliness standards in antiquity?

To be honest, the restrictions and rules for performing the highest levels of rites in ancient Egypt ran the gamut. These rules also varied era to era, nome to nome, temple to temple and deity to deity.

aka there are no hard and fast rules.

Most of what we know about ritual cleanliness in antiquity comes from the Greek historian Herodotus (which I never put a lot of stock in, to be honest), which means most of what we know comes from the later eras of Egyptian history. The most common ritual cleanliness practice included being washed with water from the temple lake, washing your mouth with natron, and wearing of clean linen robes and sandals. However, beyond that, the rules could vary greatly. According to Sauneron, common ritual cleanliness practices included (but were not limited to) shaving of all bodily hair (for practical purposes of keeping louses away), circumcision, abstinence from sex while on duty, and abstinence from certain foods depending on the deities you served. And according to Reidy, you weren’t to wear anything made with animal products into the temple either.

I think it’s also important to note that ritual cleanliness standards did not just apply to priests in antiquity. It also applied to offerings. Much like in Islam (as I understand it), there were certain ways to properly dispatch a bull for offering to the gods. And only certain animals would make the cut. Another prime example is incense- you wouldn’t want to use incense with urea in it, as it conflicts with purity standards. These are both forms of ritual cleanliness/purity.

What are the standards for a modern Kemetic practitioner?

Much like in antiquity, modern standards run the gamut. Most people’s restrictions and rules vary based off of the deity they serve and the rules set out by the temple/coven/group they are a member of (if they are not practicing solo). Kemetic Orthodoxy, a common Kemetic group/temple, has specific rules/requirements for their rituals. For every day shrine work- the standards are set btwn the practitioner and their deities. For Senut, their signature daily rite, the ritual standards required are: being of sound state of mind and body (aka not sick), washing of the body and orifices with a natron/water solution, the wearing of white clothing that you only use for Senut (optimally) and that you aren’t bleeding (menses or otherwise). There are a series of monthly rituals online that KO hosts and some of them have no requirements for ritual cleanliness, while others require you to be of the same cleanliness as you would be if you were performing Senut. KO also has state rites that have the same ritual cleanliness requirements as would have been required in antiquity (generally speaking- shaving all of your hair off, for example, is not required).

For those of us who aren’t within an established temple or group, we usually have to create our own guidelines for ritual cleanliness and preparation for each ritual. For myself personally, I have little to no ritual cleanliness standards for day to day rituals. I do not change my clothing (sometimes I perform rites while in my pajamas, even). I do not wash with a natron solution before performing rites. Sometimes I perform rites while I’m ill. I literally have little to no standards for day to day rituals.

For more formal rituals, I will take a shower while focusing on cleansing myself on all levels. I will put on clothing that is comfortable and suitable for what I am doing (this is particularly important when performing execrations which involve fire). And that’s it. If I’m performing a ritual that is somewhere in between these two extremes, I might wash my hands and face and call it good.

How do I decide what standards I should include in my own practice?

This is a tricky question- because each person’s rules and requirements will be different. I am an anomaly- most people will have more requirements for their practice than I currently do. I think that building your own cleanliness standard is very personal and should be approached with common sense in mind. To start, ritual cleanliness standards were for the priests of ancient Egypt- we are not priests. We don’t have a fully staffed temple to keep our shrines running. We are average folks with day jobs and a million other things to do. Much like how we no longer perform 4 hour rites to the gods ever morning, I think it needs to be kept in mind that we will likely not be adhering to every single ritual standard ever written. Its just not practical or necessary. It’s also important to remember that ancient Egypt was a hot, sandy place. The ancient Egyptians didn’t live him homes that are virtually sealed off from the outside world. They had no indoor plumbing, modern soaps or air conditioning. They got a lot dirtier than we do. I think many of our modern cleaning products (shampoo, soap, toothpaste, deodorants) work just as well as natron when it comes to cleansing ourselves. So I think many of us can get away with modified cleansing standards for ritual practice. Perhaps we don’t need a ton of natron to be clean- we can get away with a nice animal product free bar of soap and a breath mint.

Your ritual cleanliness standards will also be determined by your deity. My gods don’t have many ritual requirements for me. They ask that I show up. They don’t really care what condition I’m in- they want me to be there. That is their standard- so that is the standard that I follow. Each deity is different- some will require you to bathe, some might stop you from eating fish, others might ask you to cover your hair while in shrine, etc. This is something that you would discover in time (if at all) as you practice more. Not every deity will have a ton of rules for their followers- so if your gods don’t make demands, don’t worry. So long as they aren’t getting mad at you- that is what is important.

Relevant Links:

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Posted by on February 6, 2013 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

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Formal Execration: The Learning Curve

While trying to decipher the meaning of a vision that I received while working with O, it was suggested that perhaps I do an execration. I considered this, and sat down with Set to get his thoughts on it, and he agreed it would be a good idea. For whatever reason, I decided I would try a formal execration. I chose the first execration rite listed in Eternal Egypt. This is my first time of doing an execration from a book, and I wanted to document some of it for others to see and consider.

The purpose of this execration was to “clear the board” (Set’s words). He had told me that I had enemies I could see, and enemies I couldn’t see. Things I was considering, and things that I wasn’t considering. So I chose the first rite in an attempt to keep the ‘enemies’ specific (for the ones I could list), but yet still cast a wide enough net to knock out things that I couldn’t see or consider in my current position.

Execration Altar Setup

Execration Altar Setup

So let’s go over what is needed for a formal execration. Reidy has the following “ingredients” for an execration:

  • Candle or oil lamp
  • An image of the serpent-enemy made of beeswax
  • New sheet of papyrus with enemies names listed in green ink
  • Copper brazier or pan
  • Herbs to replace bryony
  • Iron knife or nail
  • Black thread
  • Blade of flint
  • Red clay pot, sand, and a lid or means to seal the pot

Because of limitations, I made a few changes to the above ingredients list. I used regular paper, instead of papyrus. My beeswax image was made from a candle. Instead of a copper pan, I used a brass bowl. And for herbs, I used a lemon. Reidy states in his book that bryony would have been acidic, and I felt that a lemon would be one of the most acidic things I could find. Instead of an iron knife, I used Set’s knife (stainless steel). I chose to use his knife because he is part of the reason I’m doing this at all. And, his connotations of smiting a/pep daily anyways. For my red pot, I chose an old pill bottle that I had. I cleaned it and painted it red.

Once I had all of my stuff together, I set it up all nicely in one spot so that I could do all of my work in one area and not have to leave to go get stuff. The execration was going along alright. Nothing major or exciting, though it was odd to actually speak words during my rite (I am a silent ritualist, usually). And everyting was pretty ho hum until I set stuff on fire.

 

Yes. Set stuff on fire. And holy crap. Did it burn. It burned for a long long time. In fact, I had to bring in a pot lid to smother the flames so that it would stop burning. It got so hot that the wax started to sizzle in the base of the pot. It was seriously like standing in front of the stove while cooking.

Damn.

That’s crazy.

And after it was done, it looked a lot like this:

Execration Remains

And it was at least 20 minutes before the brass was cool enough to touch.

Afterwards, I took the remains and poured them into my bottle. I added the lemon juice (as well as the lemon as a whole) and poured sand on top. I then took my red candle and melted hot wax over the lid and let it drip down (It didn’t quite pan out as I had hoped it would, but ohwell). Since I didn’t have the means to bury it somewhere, I placed it in a dumpster on the other side of my apartment complex where it will eventually be taken to the landfill and ‘buried’ there.

execration bottle

Now it’s time for the learning curve!

As mentioned in the title, there is a bit of a learning curve to this whole ‘formal execration’ thing. It’s really easy to take a piece of paper, write on it, scream at it, tear it up, burn it and pitch it (and call it good). But when you get into the more formal style of things, there are a lot more problems that can crop up during the ritual. There are also more considerations that need to be made while doing the formal style, and I wanted to go over some of my findings, pitfalls, and areas of suggestion so that your formal execration can go smoother.

  • Make sure your execration pot (the thing you burn stuff in) is sturdy. You saw how hot my stuff got. If I had gone with a lesser bowl, its entirely possible that I could have run into serious problems. The bowl could have broken (or shattered) and I would have had hot molten wax all over my table, my person, and possibly my hands as well. Be considerate of the materials you’re using. Make sure that your execration brazier/pot can really withstand high heat.
  • Be considerate of your surroundings. In conjunction with above- make sure you’re performing your execration in a place that can handle high heat. Despite using a brass bowl, I ended up with a black circle on my silverware box. I also ended up with tons of tiny wax droplets all over my box, table, and person. Make sure that you do your rites in an area that can handle high heat, messes, and potentially escaping fire or wax.
  • Be considerate of your clay pot. My jar was extremely hot after placing that wax in there. I wanted to drip the wax down the side of my jar, so that it would actually seal the jar up. However, the wax was still so hot inside, I couldn’t pick up the jar for fear of breaking the glass, or burning my hands. Be sure that wherever you’re filling the jar at can also handle high heat, or potential jar breakage.
  • Don’t make a huge a/pep effigy. My a/pep was made out of a large taper candle. That was dumb. It should have been a lot smaller. I think a lot of my fire issues stemmed from the sheer volume of wax that was in the pot. Be considerate of the size of your burning pot, and the size of the problems you are execrating when you create your a/pep figure. Next time, I think I will make something smaller in size.
  • If you’re going to have a large a/pep figure, make sure you burn your paper before adding the wax. There was so much wax in my bowl, the paper never entirely burned. If I had burned the paper first, that wouldn’t have been a huge problem.
  • Have water, oven mitts, perhaps a large pot lid (for snuffing out fire), and something like sand or baking soda on hand. This is in case fire spreads.
  • Make sure your knives are sharp and can handle some pressure. I had a lot of problem with my knife not wanting to cut this massive wax figure. I ended up doing divots in the wax, and snapping the snake apart… which was quite gratifying. But at least be aware that it can be an issue.

All in all, I’m glad I tried a formal execration out. I think that each format of execration is useful, and really serves different purposes all in all. I love basic execrations where all I’m doing is focusing on smashing the crap out of something. I don’t need to worry about words or structure, it’s all about the emotional release. However, the formal style is pretty cool too, because you seriously feel like you’re beating something much larger up. Especially when the wax started to really go off- I was like “Damn, this is crazy. What the hell did I just unleash?” The styles and feelings are different, and that each format is better for certain situations over others.

It is my opinion that Formal Execrations are good for large scale, long term goals. For example, let’s take losing weight. You’d start with a Formal Execration to get you started. And then you’d do lots of smaller execrations along the way to keep you going. The best way to find out which is best for you is to try one of each version and compare and contrast their results.

I urge you to try a formal execration and see how it feels!

Other posts on Execration:

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2012 in Devo Magix Series, Kemeticism

 

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Osirian Mysteries: A Ritual

Long before I came to Kemeticism, when I still identified as a Wiccan, my SO concocted a rite to do for Osiris, which he taught to me. I can’t really say where he got the idea from- neither of us really knew much about Kemeticism or its holidays. But the rite seemed to fit, and the more I’ve learned over the years, the more I see the correlation between it and the Mysteries of Osiris. I had written about my rites briefly last year, but this year I’d like to do a full ‘tutorial’ on the rites I perform every year for O. This is based entirely off of UPG, but I think that this UPG is rather applicable to this holiday. The rite I’ve written out below isn’t exactly the original format- the ritual has grown and changed a little bit over the years that I’ve done it. It’s a growing practice and feel free to modify it to fit your needs as well.

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The first step is to cleanse yourself in whatever format you feel works best. You will then want to cleanse your shrine area and icon as well. This can be as simple as wiping it down with a cloth, or going as all out as using natron, incense, etc.

Then, create mound of sand in center of shrine area. In my case, I placed the sand in a small dish- so that it wouldn’t go everywhere. I use the sand for multiple reasons. One, it purifies the area. It creates a clean space to place the icon on (this was typically done in the Opening of the Mouth rites as well (Eternal Egypt, 292)). For me, the mound of sand recalls Zep Tepi, the first time. It stands for rebirth, change, and growth- which is what the Mysteries is all about.

I then take my icon, and wrap it in its entirety in a specific blue cloth that I have. This cloth is only used for this purpose. I don’t use it for anything else. Originally, the blue represented the water. For me, Osiris is the river, it is his domain (and in some cases, the location of his felling), so the blue made perfect sense. According to Wilkinson, the color blue could “represent the heavens as well as the primeval flood, as will be seen, and in both ways it functioned as a symbol of life and rebirth. …Blue could represent the river Nile and its associated crops, offerings and fertility..” Once again, we have rebirth as the theme.

If you don’t have a blue cloth, I think the next best choices for colors would be green (for the vegetative aspects of the Mysteries), black (for the black fertile silt that allows the crops to grow) or something that is remniscent of the sky or Nut- such as a cloth with stars on it (this is tied to the Imywt fetish and also the practice of painting Nut on the lids of coffins- she is often used as a vehicle for his rebirth).

You will then place icon on the mound of sand.

I then perform a Ka embrace on the statue. You can say whatever you like, or nothing at all. The typical words that accompany the Ka embrace in Eternal Egypt are:

Djehuty has come to you. Awake when you hear his words.
I have come as the envoy of Atum.
My two arms are upon you like those of Heru.
My two hands are upon you like those of Djehuty.
My fingers are upon you like those of Anpu.
Homage be to you, I am a living servant of Osiris/Wesir.

I then present offerings to Osiris. These are to accompany him during his trip to the Duat. Typically, I will offer incense, water and bread. I think that flowers would also be appropriate. Use your discretion, and use something that won’t go horribly bad if left out for quite a while. And, yes, Re-ment is still an option here. You can present these offerings with words, or without.

I then close up my shrine for the duration of my celebration (which I celebrate for a full month- New moon to new moon). If you don’t have doors, I’d recommend draping a cloth of some type over the shrine.

I do this for a couple of reasons. One, this is the time when Osiris is gone. He’s been taken from us, he’s in the river, Aset is searching, Heru and Set are battling it out- it’s a time of chaos and loss. This is the field after the seeds have been planted. You know that the seeds are there- but you can’t see the plants just yet. The whole purpose is to notice a loss. And for me, it doesn’t really sink in as a loss until I can’t see him for such a duration. For my own personal practice, the point is to mourn his loss. You can’t mourn him if you can go see him in shrine (see the icon) every day.  Second, I go a full month for cycle and completion. The moon disappears during the New Moon phase, as Osiris has disappeared from us. And I feel that waiting out the full cycle of the moon helps to bring out the full cycle of rebirth that Osiris goes through.

I then place my Anup and Aset statues on top of my shrine. If I had a representation of Nebhet, I’d place her there, too. These three are heavily laced with the mythology of Osiris. Anup helps to protect and embalm Osiris. He helps Aset and Nebhet find pieces and put him back together. Aset and Nebhet are the primary mourners of Osiris’ loss. So I like to involve them in the process.

I keep the shrine closed for the full month. During this time, I will leave offerings on the outside of the shrine. Offerings could be of any format- words, food, candles, items- whatever. I usually use this time to notice how my practice and life feel different without him being right there. I usually reflect on the nature of death, rebirth and sacrifice.

Once the month is up, I open the shrine, revert the offerings (I typically won’t eat these ones :P), unwrap the statue and set the shrine back up in its normal format. I then lay a big spread out for Osiris and celebrate in his return, his rebirth.

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I know that many people don’t consider Osiris’ mythos to be that of rebirth, but for me it plays a heavy role. I tend to work with Osiris as a vegetative deity. A god of the land, of agriculture. He is the land of Egypt. He is what sustains the people. And every year, the river, land and vegetation of Egypt go through a cycle of death and rebirth. The river recedes, the land dries up, the plants die. And then the waters issue forth in the inundation, the silt is deposited, seeds planted, live is grown, cared for and cut down to feed the people. For me, he is intrinsically linked to all of this, so most of my rites to him involve layers of death and rebirth- as well as sacrifice, as he has to sacrifice himself so that others may live.

Please let me know if any of you try this format of ritual and the type of response you get from it. I think that the Mysteries can have a profound effect on you, as you continually consider what life and death mean to you, and the fact that death must occur in order for life to continue. I’d love to hear anyone’s experiences from any Mysteries rites that participate in this year!

Also, please check out my article about this over on Shrine Beautiful. There are more pictures of my setup there for you to enjoy!

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in Kemeticism

 

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