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Connected in Loneliness

I have been lonely for as long as I can remember, and I’ve handled it in various ways throughout my life. When I was younger, I disassociated all of those feelings away. As I got older, I found the “better” method of handling my loneliness was to funnel it into work. Because if you’re busy, you don’t have time to listen to the feelings gnawing in your stomach. Over the years, I’ve found that I could combine my incessant need to drown things out via work while also trying to fix my constant loneliness. Which is probably why TTR as you know it even exists.

In recent months, I’ve found that the topic of loneliness has been on my mind again. Due to the current circumstances of my life, I find that the feelings of abandonment and neglect that I would have experienced in my youth frequently bubble up to the surface. Because I’ve gotten better at being able to look at my feelings and remain somewhat detached from them, I’ve found that I’m able to actually inspect them before being overwhelmed by them. This has resulted in a fair amount of navel-gazing about loneliness and how it relates to a person’s personal religious practice. And by extension, how it relates to the gods, and whether they get lonely or not.

I suspect that being a member of a more “fringe” religion leads to loneliness playing a larger role in our community’s experience as a whole. Unlike being in the dominant religious group of wherever any of us is living, where you can find physical places to worship with other human beings, most of us are stuck creating our own religious experience in our own homes. I think its all very foreign, this trying to allocate resources to concoct, conceptualize, and implement whatever brings religious meaning to us while still engaging all of the other aspects of our busy lives. It’s a lot of extra work, and I think many of us don’t take the time to consider what impact that can lend to one’s religious experience. It’s a lot easier to build off of something that already exists than to have to figure out how to create it yourself from scratch. It’s a lot more motivating to participate in your religion if it is socially fulfilling or enriching.

In many respects, our choice in religion others us to a degree. And in that sense, our religion creates an ideal space to be lonely.

On a whim. I asked about loneliness and religion over on tumblr. I wanted to see how others relate to loneliness, and how that influences their religious practices. I left the question vague, as I wanted to see how people interpret loneliness without a wider context. I would say that most of the responses fell into a few categories:

  1. Loneliness is an act of being alone. This can allow for greater freedom to connect with the Divine, because there is no one around to interrupt you.
  2. Loneliness as a necessary tool or experiences. That some of our experiences are going to be inherently lonely, because we experience things differently as individuals. In most of these responses, the othering that comes with loneliness is temporary or situational, and not all-encompassing.
  3. Loneliness that separates a person from other people, as in being the only participant of your religion that you know of, or being the only non-white participant in your religious circle. This loneliness is pervasive and persistent.
  4. Loneliness that separates a person from the gods, as in not being able to connect with a deity as much as one would like, due to the fact that they aren’t living in physical forms we can interact with.

In these responses, I would argue that there are two over-arching relationships to loneliness. On one hand, it seems that people equate loneliness to being alone, nothing more and nothing less. On the other hand, it seems that people equate loneliness to being disconnected from others who are similar to themself, which is the definition I tend to err towards. From a mental health perspective, loneliness is not about being alone, it’s about being disconnected from other humans–regardless of how many humans are in physical proximity to you.

The ability to feel connected with people comes from a sense of someone being open and available to you, and by extension, you being open and available to them. It’s an open-door policy that works in both directions, respects both people’s needs and boundaries and leaves both people trusting the other with vulnerable aspects of themself. You can’t be connected with others unless you’re comfortable being vulnerable with them.

When you read that paragraph, how many people come to mind? How many people are you really connected with? How about your gods? Does the definition of connection apply to your relationship with them? Do you think that the gods feel connected with you?

Connection is ultimately the “cure” for loneliness, especially if its chronic in nature. And yet, according to most research, most of us do not feel connected with anyone. I might go so far to venture that many of us don’t even feel connected to ourselves. In recent months I have come to understand isfet as being “stuff that tears at the social fabric of human society,” and by that definition, loneliness might as well be a type of isfet because not only does loneliness make us miserable, it literally cuts your life short.

And if that’s the case, wouldn’t that make connection a form of ma’at? The balm that eradicates isfet from your life and restores the social fabric that us humans require to survive?

If 2019 is the year of making ma’at, then it stands to reason that this should be the year we start to tackle the loneliness that permeates our community. I don’t have any concrete solutions, but this is a call to action for anyone reading to start pondering about how we can work on helping members of our community to become more connected. Not only with each other or the gods, but also with ourselves. Figuring out who we are, making ourselves a priority allows us to give more space to other people when they are in a time of need. Treating ourselves as an important member of our own life helps us to form deeper, healthier relationships with others. Learning about yourself also teaches you how you want other people to treat you, and by extension, helps you create better boundaries, so that you can learn to trust people better. Which ultimately leads to… more ability to connect with others.

When you think about the loneliness that is in your own life or religious practice, what comes to mind? What helps you to feel connected to others? What steps are you performing to create more connection between yourself and others? What are you doing to help yourself become more connected with yourself?

Some resources to get the conversation started:

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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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Edge Effect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The Fight For Yourself

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

Being chronically ill is frustrating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relevant Posts:

 

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We All Have to Start Somewhere

Alternate Title: Paganism is like Japanese food, so quit picking on newbs.

This past weekend I was strapped to find a place to eat. Due to my laziness and the part of town I was in, I opted to go to a place I never go to anymore: Ra. For those of you who don’t know, Ra is a chain “Japanese” restaurant. I place Japanese in quotes because, as far as I’m concerned, the food is more American than Japanese in nature, though the restaurant does try, if nothing else.

I sat down at the table and looked the menu over. I placed my order and waited for the food to come. While I waited, I mulled over how long it had been since I had been to Ra. Truth is, it’s probably been 4 or 5 years since I last visited. As I took my first sip of the miso soup, I remembered why it was that I don’t come here very often: it’s Americanized, anyone that has spent a fair amount of time eating more authentic Japanese dishes can tell.

Unagidon by Hyunwoo Sun via Flickr

So what does this have to do with Paganism? Quite a bit, when you examine it.

The shortest way I can sum it up is thus: we all start somewhere. To use my Japanese food metaphor, when I started out eating Japanese food, I didn’t know where to start, so I went with something that was local and somewhat familiar. I ate at Americanized restaurants because while they weren’t quite American food, they weren’t quite… not American food, either. It was a simple mid-jump that allowed me to slowly ease into a whole new food genre. It’s the equivalent of sticking only one foot in the freezing cold pool as opposed to jumping into the deep end all at once. As I got more and more comfortable, I branched out to other restaurants with more authentic dishes. I began to research and make my own food at home. I moved so far out into the deep end that I can no longer stomach the taste of Americanized Japanese food.

Like many people who are starting on a new religious path or venture, they’re probably going start with something that is somewhat familiar. Maybe their foot in the pool is only pulling books from a local store, instead of an Internet list or a university library. For recon-based paths, a lot of the information is dense and hard to read straight out of the gate, and it makes sense that someone would be overwhelmed by that. Maybe if you’re lucky, to use the metaphor above, you’ve got a Japanese friend who can show you the best places in town to eat, or maybe will even cook for you in their home. In cases like that, you can avoid the weird in between phase and ease straight into the “good stuff”. But for many of us, there is no ambassador to help us out, there are only Llewlyn books in the local Barnes & Noble and the one lady that runs the New Age shop down town. We’re stepping into something entirely foreign and trying to grope for something at least somewhat familiar when we start out.

Imagine that you are knowledgeable in a genre of food. Let’s say I meet someone who wants to get into Japanese food, and they decide that they want to try Ra. Should I chastise them for their choice? Should I mock them or make them feel stupid or inferior because they are choosing to start off there? Would you do that to someone?

We as a community do this regularly to the newcomers of the community. “I can’t believe you bought that book, are you stupid?” “Who told you that?! That is completely asinine, how do you not know any better?!”

“How dare you eat at that Americanized Japanese restaurant. Don’t you know that only fools eat there?”

See what I mean?

We treat everything as if its do or die, as if you need to be 110% knowledgeable in everything straight out the gate. We forget that we all started somewhere. That we all started at our Americanized restaurant before we learned that there was more beyond that. And in addition to this, there are plenty of people who like the Americanized food, thank you very much, and there is nothing wrong with that! Maybe its better that we agree that we don’t agree on what food tastes good and we call it a day. Maybe you can show me the best meal on the menu for when I’m stuck eating Ra, and I can tell you about a local restaurant that is similar to Ra in nature. Just because we don’t exactly agree doesn’t mean it can’t be an exchange of knowledge or ideas. Nothing needs to be black and white.

So when you meet someone whose practice or knowledge is the equivalent of Ra (to you), instead of chastising them and telling them that they are wrong for eating California rolls, instead ask why they are doing what they are doing. Ask them if they’ve ever tried something at the Japanese run and owned restaurant a few miles down the road. See if they are open to trying some new stuff that you view as being more authentic.

And if you get asked why you’re eating California rolls, be open with your answer and remember that questions don’t always equate to criticism. With some respect (on both ends) and some civility, we can all learn more about where each of us is coming from and possibly gain more insight and knowledge about other members of our broader community. We can begin to learn and see how the gods present themselves differently to different people and we can share better resources and more knowledge to all parts of our community. But if you yell at someone who has just started, you run the risk of shutting them down before they’ve even started and that doesn’t do anyone any good.

And above all, remember where you were when you first started and how far you’ve come throughout your process. And then transform that into patience when dealing with others who have just started.

Relevant Posts:

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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KRT: Living the Faith

Living Kemeticism: What does living your faith mean to you? How can others bring their religion into their day to day life or live their religion?

It is my personal belief that religion is something that you live. It is a way of life or a way of being and approaching the world. It is a lens that you see the world through and when you are completely immersed in the religion, it will inform and influence just about every decision that you make, for better or worse. And for all of the guides out there about how to become Kemetic, I feel like there are very few guides out there that teach you how to live the religion. Sure, we’ve got guides for approaching gods and offering to gods and how to build shrines and what books to read. But none of these things really teach you how to live the religion.

So for this post, I’m going to discuss how I view living Kemeticism and hopefully some things that you can attempt to do to live the religion as well.

From my perspective, the way to become Kemetic and to live as a Kemetic isn’t about gods, offerings, reading, or shrines. It’s about living in ma’at. I’m sure some people would probably disagree with that, considering that 99% of everything out there on Kemeticism is about gods, priesthood, proper shrine construction and ritual performing, but I do believe that living in ma’at is the most important aspect in a Kemetic’s practice. The NTRW put maintaining ma’at as being their primary objective day in and day out, and since they need our help in maintaining ma’at, I’d wager that it should be a top priority for us as well. Problem is, ma’at isn’t something that easily defined and it’s going to vary for each practitioner.

When you see ma’at defined in an academic text, it’s usually defined as “truth, justice, order”. However, a lot of Kemetics agree that that definition isn’t very helpful, so a lot of us will define it as “balance”. We prefer to use the term balance because the word balance creates a looser definition (which is important for bigger concepts such as ma’at) that is able to reflect how ma’at is different for each person and it creates a definition that isn’t weighed down with a bunch of baggage as the ‘truth, justice, order’ trio would be.

If ma’at is balance, and I want to live in balance, what does that mean for my practice?

This is where the tricky part comes in because there is only so much I can do to define ma’at and it’s applications for each person, since balance will be different for each person. As an example, some people do really well with daily rituals in their practice. It helps to create a sense of routine and stability that helps to drive their religious experiences forward as well as helping with establishing a relationship between the devotee and the deity. For that person, daily ritual creates a good balance in their practice and helps them to maintain a sense of ma’at in their life and actions.

However some people don’t do well with daily rituals at all, and being forced to maintain a shrine through daily rituals may only succeed in bogging their religious efforts down. To force someone to perform daily rites when they are not well suited for them (for whatever reasons) would be counter productive and would not be conducive for building a sense of ma’at in that practitioner’s life and practice.

That being said, I think that the first step to living in ma’at is to acknowledge, understand, and accept that other people will do things differently than you. Other Kemetics will have differing (and sometimes conflicting) approaches to their practice and the gods, and that’s okay. We don’t all have to practice or do things the same way in order for it to be effective. In this same vein, I think we all need to acknowledge that there is no One Way to do this whole Kemetic religion and that there are as many viable methods to practice as there are practitioners.

The second step to living the religion is to figure out how the religion best fits into your life, and to pursue that.

That, of course, is easier said than done and it can take a while to figure out how Kemeticism will fit into your daily life. When I first started, Kemeticism fit into my life through ritual and shrine work. At the time, it was the only thing I could figure out to do to bring it into my daily life. I would read about Egypt and I would leave offerings out daily. However, I wasn’t entirely happy with this set-up. It was during the time that I took a break from Kemeticism to study Shinto that I realized that it was possible to be in a religion without performing shrine duties because Shinto places a huge emphasis on proper actions and religion as a way of life that seems to be missing from a lot of modern polytheistic and pagan movements. While I didn’t do a single ounce of shrine activity during that year, I still felt connected to my gods and my religion because they were still always on my mind, and I still acted with the concept of ma’at in my head.

It wasn’t until I began to do heavy community work and writing regularly that I realized where my niche was and what kind of role Kemeticism would play for me. My ma’at, my balance is in interacting with the community and creating resources for other Kemetics to use. I find more benefit for myself in these actions than I ever did inside of a shrine or ritual setup. For me, living the faith is equivalent to doing regularly community work, keeping this blog updated, and reading regularly.

And you may find that your balance, your ma’at, is different from mine, and that’s okay.

Figuring out your balance takes time and patience with a huge dose of trial and error. Only through experiencing how the religion works with your life and how you react to different activities and sectors of the community will you be able to figure out what works best for you. And what works best for you may change as you grow and shift. As you begin to find the core “staples” of your practice, a lot of the useless stuff will fall to the wayside, which may seem scary at first, but I think that’s par for the course when you finally find the meat and potatoes of your practice.

The short version 🙂

  • Being Kemetic is about living in ma’at, which we translate to mean balance (or “don’t be a dick”).
  • Figuring out your balance, your perfect Kemetic mixture is part of the path, but also part of living the religion.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things as you figure out what makes your practice tick.
  • Things may change as you change, and that’s okay.
  • We all practice differently as we all try to strike our own balance, and that’s okay, too.
  • Again, “Don’t be a dick”.

To read other responses to this topic, please check out the Master List.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

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KRT: Kemeticism Underground

How public are you about your beliefs and practices? How has it (or not) impacted your work life, your familial and friendly ties? What advice would you give to uncertain Kemetics about how to approach either telling or not telling others about their beliefs?

For this round of KRT we’re discussing how open we are with our religious practices and what kind of effect that has had on our lives and relationships. Honestly, despite how open I am about my practice on the internet, I don’t really talk about my practice at all in my day to day life. If you are lucky, you will know that I am not Christian, you may even know that I’m Kemetic, and that that deals with ancient Egypt, but I pretty much don’t talk about anything in real life.

This is because I am fearful of the potential consequences that I may have if I were to be open about my practice. Most of my life and my lifestyle are hidden because I don’t want to experience more societal pressure for my choices and way of life. As I mentioned in my God’s Mouths post, my life is almost entirely centered around religious work and astral work, and it is made obvious when trying to have an in real life conversation with people who know absolutely nothing about Paganism that I pretty much have next to nothing that I can talk about with “normal” people. Usually, if someone asks about my religion and I’m required to answer, I get blank stares in return, or I get lectured about my choice in religion.

 

My family also knows very little about my religious practices as well. My closest family (read: parents and one grand parent) know that I am not Christian, but that is where the knowledge ends. They don’t make a habit of asking about my religious affiliations or practices, and I don’t make a habit of talking about it. I personally have found this to be ironic because my family does have a bit of “woo” to them. It’s said that other members of my family can see spirits and the like, and most of my family has at least some passing interest in energy work and manipulation, channeling and other spirit work. However, they never think to ask me or include me in their discussions, so no one knows anything about how that stuff factors into my own life.

So the short answer to the first question is this: I don’t tell anyone about my practice. I have difficulty speaking about it in real life, and I typically keep it very hidden, which results in a lot of odd mental quirks and odd discussions sometimes. It also leaves me feeling pretty alienated regularly.

My advice to anyone who is starting out on a non-“normal” religious path is this: Use discretion.

A lot of people seem to think that its a-okay to be an open Pagan in the modern day and age and that you’ll experience no repercussions for it, but its honestly not. Being open about your religious beliefs in the wrong place can get your harassment from coworkers, friends and family, or can result in you losing your job (despite the laws in place that are meant to protect you from such things). Be careful what you divulge and how quickly you divulge it. Much like my boiling frogs post, I would recommend that you start slow. If you mention that you’re not Christian, and no one freaks out, then maybe you can talk about your specific religious path, and then maybe more about your world view, practices, etc. Ease yourself into the conversation, and try to make it easy for you to back out if it goes in the wrong direction too quickly.

I would also advise to be careful on the internet as well. Many employers do check candidates out online, and its very possible that finding a bunch of online stuff regarding your religious practices can become a factor in their decisions to hire you. It’s also possible that people can use online interactions against you for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways (I’ve seen this done in divorces and custody cases, for example). If its possible to write under a pseudonym, I recommend considering it. Because of this, I also always recommend being professional, courteous and respectful online as well- because that can also play a factor if someone finds out who you are online and in real life.

I understand the desire to want to be open about your practice and that it’s not really fair that you have to live (to some extent) in hiding, but I’ve found over the years that being completely open about my way of life tends to result in drama and stress. So for myself personally, I’d rather keep that stuff hush-hush because I don’t want or need the extra stress. As you get further along your path, you’ll find the best mix of open and secret that works for you, but to start out, I always recommend being rather reserved with your religious workings. It’s always easier to reveal a secret later than to try and cover your secret back up once it’s out of the bag!

To read other responses to this question, please check out the Master List!

 

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2014 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

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