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Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.

Two days prior to this past Friday, February 13th, I found myself reading through G.B. Marian’s recent blog update regarding The Holy Month of Miew Khem (or “Black Cat”). It’s well worth reading through his thorough explanation of this time, held sacred by the members of the LV-426 Tradition, which takes place between the rare occurrence of two consecutive Friday the 13ths. Marian’s group considers this time significant for, “…celebrating (1) the positive results of killing Osiris and (2) the marriage of Seth to Ishtar and Anath (as any of our normal Friday the 13th rituals would be); it’s also a time for (3) experiencing some major initiatory event.”

Though personally identifying as Kemetic Orthodox in terms of tradition, my spiritual path has benefited greatly through participation in reconstructionist-based, revivalist and modern rituals, as well as practices specific to my particular branch of Kemeticism and those from the wider Kemetic, polytheist, and general pagan communities. With this in mind, it was surprising, but not uncomfortably so, that the concept of the month of Miew Khem grabbed me almost immediately, with that sort of palpable force that many of you may be familiar with. The one that translated into words would go something along the lines of, “Hold on to your hat, kid, we’re in for a bumpy ride.” I sought permission from G.B. to participate (initially uncertain if this was something other-Set-worshipping folks could join in on) and upon receiving permission continued about my Wednesday, full of thoughts of the past and curiosity towards the future: namely what that impending WHOOMPH feeling was going to translate to come Friday.

Regarding the past, I’ll just share what I wrote in response to the initial blog post about Miew Khem, as it sums it up fairly well:

“[Your post] got me thinking back to what I was doing around this time in 2009, and I admit, I… was somewhat blown away at the realization. I don’t honestly remember all that much of the details of what happened during that month. I was in my junior year of college, I was at the lowest point that depression has yet to take me in my life, but this was… legitimately when it all hit critical mass. I wound up leaving school for a week at the end of February after almost doing something drastic, spontaneously fled … to be with my sibling Tenu, got off all the medications that seemed to have made things so much worse (for me) and in the midst of the vast red mountains, took an oath to whatever gods/spirits may be (I was too low to believe in anyOne specifically at this point) that I would do whatever it took so as to never scare and hurt my family so deeply again, even if I couldn’t see reason enough just yet to take these steps for myself.”

Initiatory? Yes. Messy as hell? Yes, again. Worth acknowledging as an incredibly significant moment in my life?

Absolutely.

With that in mind, I had intended for this Miew Khem to be about celebrating how far I’ve come since the prior occurrence of this month. I wished to honor how Set showed up roughly two years later and helped/forced (either verb would be accurate!) me to make drastic changes in my life that led me to become the healthier, stronger, more independent person I am six years on. I wished to acknowledge how Bast stayed with me through all of it, shifting through various forms that my mind could make sense of from childhood on, guarding and guiding through the turbulence of adolescence and my early twenties, and finally revealing herself as who She truly is once I was ready. Wednesday evening and much of Thursday I started to pull together plans for a personal ritual that would accomplish just this.

The celebration was put on hold come Friday 13th.

A brief note here before I continue: I am about to share some relatively personal information on what I know to be a public blog. I will avoid specific details, but I have made the decision to share the general gist of what occurred because I believe that mental health is something that is not discussed frequently enough in my part of the world and that abuse is not something the victim should be made to feel ashamed of or for. I also believe that sharing some of this is significant for my own well being, part of the process of acknowledging it, making it part of my reality. If this bothers or triggers you, I respect that and do not wish to harm anyone with my words. Please stop reading now.

Friday the 13th, I had scheduled a counseling appointment for myself. As someone who is in training to be a counselor, I had previously recognized that I had some unresolved issues from my past, things that fed into my experiences back in 2009, and knew that I needed to work on these things in order to be an effective helping professional for my clients.

My counselor, after hearing my story regarding this prior relationship, wanted me to admit that I was a survivor of physical and emotional abuse. I denied it. Defended the other party in question. Explained why I deserved much of what had happened, minimized the severity of it, claimed that I had not gone through enough to merit the “title” of abused. My counselor pressed me, kept showing me the truth of it, metaphorically holding the mirror up to my own face and making me took a good, long, look at myself.

I finally relented. Spoke the words that would begin the process of acknowledging that this had indeed happened to me, that it was not merely an unhealthy relationship but something worse, something that had warped my perception of my self-worth, something that had led me to do things, give things, I had not wanted to do or to give.

I made it home, and then I broke. For the next several days I was utterly useless to the friends and family I love. Grieving for something I’d known but had gotten by in not acknowledging. Angry but too exhausted to express that anger. I mostly hid in my apartment with my partner, reaching out only to him and to my sibling. I used Monday to force myself out into the world again, knowing that the evening would see me in class again, the following morning back in the office. I had to function, I had to find a better balance between wallowing in this new reality, the endless repetition of “how could I” and “why did I” needing some relief in the form of self-care and strength, even if that strength was somewhat forced.

Meeting the necessity of various obligations got me moving: class, work, online meetings, and finally — shrine.

I was not up to the festival I’d planned, when I finally managed to light candles and incense. I said the words of the senut ritual and then I just sat there, exhausted and not really wanting to be doing the rite. I felt dirty. I felt stained. I felt… abused.

“Sing.” Came the voices of several gods, “Sing our songs.”

I didn’t want to. I didn’t know if I could. But They kept asking, and so I did, working through the lyrics for Heqat, Hethert-Nut, Heru-wer, Bast, and finally Set. I started in on one of Set’s songs but He abruptly cut me off.

“Not that one. The first one.”

I was surprised — His opinion of my music has always been one largely of mild amusement. He appreciates the gesture but isn’t so… picky as Bast or Hethert-Nut, who’ve more direct associations with that sort of worship. So if He actually had a preference for once, I’d listen. I refocused, shifting my headspace from the fierce “Daughter of the Storm” chant to the low ballad of “Dua Set.” I sang the first verse, the chorus, the second verse, chorus again, then headed into the bridge:

“Tear me apart, challenge my soul. / I must be broken that I might yet be whole.”

I promptly choked back the rush of emotion that flooded me. I was and am so very broken. Less so today than on that initial recognition of the 13th, but still aching, still tender in spaces I’ve not explored for the better part of five years. It hurts in ways I can’t fully express to go delving back into my past, ways I don’t want to express, because I hate the rawness of it, hate the showing of those weak spaces, hate the tears that once earned me such harsh critique. Sekhmet pulled the depths of it from me once in a semi-public setting and oh how I burned with the shame of it. I do not like to cry at all. I absolutely abhor crying in front of damn near anyone else.

I couldn’t even fully cry then, in front of Set. I almost did, I almost am now, remembering the moment. He showed me in the lyrics from my own hand that I need to let it out, probably at some point fairly soon, but it may take a god again to haul it from me. Every time I try to release… whatever this weight at the pit of me is, there’s a wall. If I could just get past that, I think He would be willing to take it from me. I think Bast would too as She was there, less tangible but still present, an external wave of concern and acceptance of the mess that I struggled with and subsequently contained after the initial wave.

How do I do this? Where do I go with this? I’m so… lost again. Lost in a time that I was initially so happy to celebrate for all the good that I’ve found. Perhaps this is the true spirit of the month, the not knowing, the challenge and the change. I am doing my damnedest to honor that spirit, but gods above and below, it is so, so very hard.

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Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.

I was recently telling a few friends that I genuinely believe that my gods enjoy the city of Pittsburgh.

I have quite a few reasons for this, many relating to the general culture of the place and the nature of the people who live here. Yet perhaps the point of most significance is this: we know how to appreciate and love a river. In fact, we know how to appreciate three.

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We do, of course, lack a sea into which any of these rivers might flow, creating a notable dearth of anything akin to a delta, but we have our three rivers and by the gods, our city is defined by them. From its industrial past where the rivers served as an ideal means of transport for the steel and other commodities produced within massive factories, to the cleaned up shores of the present day which serve as a rare example of how humanity can reverse the damage inflicted by careless pollution if they set their minds to it. I feel my primary gods as being deeply present here, in this space that appreciates its waterways as part of its livelihood and very spirit, in a way that I never could when I first met them in the purely urban sprawl of downtown D.C. This is not Their land, nor would I try to argue that the gods of Kemet are likely to truly prefer one foreign place over another, but I welcome them to it whole heartedly and take pleasure in finding that they seem pleased to stay for a brief time in this space where Ohio, Monongehela, and Allegheny meet.

This is a highly personal, yet meaningful, interpretation. Unfortunately for my overactive mind, I tend not to be able to just sit with such things; driven by the incessant ping of “Why does this matter so much!?” I found myself looking back across the Atlantic, examining my primary gods more closely, and studying the regions where they were worshiped. This came in part from the general desire to know more about these places, but also due to my understanding of the House of Netjer’s Rite of Parent Divination (RPD). By following that link, you can read through Itenumuti’s excellent, overview of the ritual as well as a few interpretations of the significance of one’s Parent names. Yet I also view it as a replacement for modern Kemetics being unable to live within a specific Nome, or portion of Ancient Egypt where a local god (or gods) would have been primarily worshiped by the majority of the population in that area. With this in mind I set about trying to track down a region where Set and Bast’s worship might have had the potential to overlap in some significant way.

I had a few personal clues, which wound up proving helpful. First, I knew to start my search based on temples functional in the New Kingdom, as Bast, while worshiped earlier, largely rose to popularity in Her cult center of Bubastis during and after this span of time. Second, I recognized that the “Set I get” is a northern version associated with Lower Egypt. He has often appeared to me wearing the deshret (red crown) of the region, standing in stark, proud contrast to Heru-wer wearing the white Hedjet. Finally, I know that my Parents appear to me as gods working in tandem, mutual defenders of Ra, and very willing to appear to me side-by-side rather than taking anything akin to oppositional roles.

Many articles later, and I found myself looking at three cities in the Eastern portion of the Nile delta: Avaris, Tanis, and Bubastis. The former two served as strongholds for the Hyksos during the second intermediate period, who introduced their storm god Ba’al, amongst others, into the Egyptian pantheon. Ba’al was recognized as Set by the Egyptians, and eventually the two became synchronized as one deity. Yet even after the Hyksos were defeated and sent back to the North, there is strongly likelihood of some number of their population remaining, contributing to continued worship of Set in their main towns. While Set’s temples would have been destroyed during the Amarna period, some scholars seem to suggest that they were rebuilt. During the 19th and 20th dynasties, Set worship definitively continued in these spaces, with Ramesside pharaohs incorporating the Avaris populations Set-Ba’al into the Egyptian pantheon through the addition of the epithet “Son of Nut,” honoring Set as the defender of Ra throughout Egypt by reviving His Old Kingdom conceptualization as a god of strength and ferocity, and even taking His name as part of their own.

The 21st and 22nd dynasties of the Third Intermediate Period would see a shift away from the Set revival noted during the middle to late New Kingdom, though power was centralized in the city of Tanis for most of the 21st before shifting to Bubastis near the start of the 22nd. As pharaoh Shoshenq I endeavored to gain power from the city of Bast, so too did the goddess receive greater attention, rising in popularity swiftly and maintaining that popularity through to the Ptolemaic period.

Do my Parent deities ever really geographically/chronologically overlap in a significant manner?  Perhaps not directly. Is this eastern delta region an area in which they would have most likely done so, if such were remotely possible? That is my hope.

It is also my hope that such initial discoveries will lead me to understand what few, baffling connections I had previously found between the two. For example, there has to be some explanation for why a magical spell listed in Bourghouts, describing a tale in which Set must provide Horus with his true name in order to be healed of poison, would show Set taking the false name of “a jug of milk milked from the udder of Bastet,” giving what Edward Butler describes as a reflection of part of His character, but not what encompasses the whole.

As per usual, I am left with more questions than I am answers.

One final realization that I made: a little nudge that perhaps I am focusing on the right span of time (massive though it may be), was a recognition about my Shemsu name. The use of standard-bearers as regimental leaders came about as part of the reorganization of the Egyptian army under Amenhotep III during the 18th Dynasty. The primary information I’ve found regarding Set as an army Standard? Under the reign of Ramses II.

I will be continuing with this, compiling sources, and writing up a far more academic overview of the roles of my Parents in the northern Delta between 1293 BCE and 730 BCE. Again, this is a huge span of time to cover but I just… can’t stop thinking that there’s something to be learned about this. About their relation to each other, their relation to me, and maybe even our mutual relationship to the wonder of rivers.

 

 

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Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.

I needed to sit on this final post for awhile. As I told my friend last night, in so many words, the week brought up a tremendous amount of feelings and insight for me. I’m not entirely certain I’ve come to terms with all of it, even a week after it’s all drawn to a close, and I’m also not sure of how to write about my experiences in a way that doesn’t smack of self-aggrandizement, something I generally aim to avoid. I do want to try to share some of it though, for I got so caught up in the thrill of things, the challenge of balancing prayer, personal ritual, and community efforts along side my day to day wedding planning, graduate school, and day job, that I stopped being able to share when I was actually in the thick of it.  I don’t want to let that become a reason for writing nothing, in part because I want to remember, and use those memories as a foundation for future efforts, future personal growth.

The candles and barque have been put away for some future festival, the red festival shrine cloth folded and waiting to be washed of what incense and wax escaped their holdings. The small bronze hued statue of Set, Lord of so much more than any epithet can capture, has been tucked back into my cabinet where extra icons remain. The table that burned brighter and brighter with the light of six, sacred flames has been returned to a crafting space for music, words and clay, a space of creation, with a small shrine holding images of both Set and Bast, alongside Heqat and Khnum who watch over my efforts. My Father was honored here for six days. Each night as I sat with Him, He tore away obstacles, guided me to confront those things still holding me back, and helped me to see what will make me a better worshiper, counselor, leader. Now this small place of homage has been returned to a space where I can move forward, unbound, free again to add beauty to the world.

On the seventh day, I celebrated Him with seven others. We celebrated all He had done for those who followed Him, be they long time devotees who have known His ways for years, or newcomers, stepping beyond past assumptions to reach out to a god they had not yet greeted in shrine. We sang for Him, we destroyed our fears on clay pots in His name. We crafted ropes to remind us of the threads of His tail which serve as ropes for a sacred barque, and put our strengths into them that we might hold fast to such strengths in darker days. We gave Him many, many offerings; we reverted those offerings in fellowship. We returned to His shrine after night had fallen and naught but candles lit the room. We toasted Him again, and again, and again, each person present Honoring the Lord of the Red lands with strong voice and strong drink.

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And we had time to sit with Him individually, as the candles burned and He remained so very present. Each had time if they chose to sit and pray by the flicker of the candle light and the passing from shadow to fire’s glow. A few of us sat with Him deep into the night, holding vigil with our thoughts and feelings even as Set held vigil over Ra on their nightly journey below the horizon.

I sat with Him by myself at one point and found it quite difficult to find words adequate to thank Him for everything He’d shown me in those past seven days. How do you thank a god for reminding you how deeply you care for a sister, and in truth, how deeply you care for your whole spiritual community? How do you express gratitude for the necessity of being bluntly shown your flaws, reminded that no matter how much work you do, things can and will go wrong and the best you can do is try to repair them after the fact? How do you find words for the clearest moment of recognition that you’ve had in four years of following a god of why He chose you, and how His influence has lead you to the professional path you’ve chosen to walk?

The answer: you don’t. There’s nothing to encompass the sheer emotional mass of it. In recognizing that, I just endeavored to share with Him the fullness of spirit I felt, the gratitude that was emanating from what felt like every fiber of my being. I believe He accepted that small offering of sorts, and I believe I felt some sense of pleasure in return, that He was proud of everyone who had worked so hard to make these things come to pass, that He enjoyed the extra time so many spent honoring Him, learning about His complex, occasionally even confounding, methods of upholding ma’at.

I know, for myself, it will take many more weeks beyond His festival, beyond even this first effort to share some of my reactions, to fully delve into everything I believe Set shared with me during His week.

…but I very much look forward to the challenge.

Dua Set! Dua Netjer! Nekhtet!

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Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.

I still owe you all a summary of what occurred during Days 4 through 7 of Red Week, and I promise that I have such a post in the works. However, my brain is still processing a number of things that took place during that span of days, trying to find words for certain emotional reactions and sorting out feelings regarding things that I researched or discussed.

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In the meantime, I wanted to do a quick post that highlights some of the other ways that different followers of Set joined in on Red Week celebrations. I like to think that the week brought some extra attention (and positive “PR!”) for my Father, that He was pleased with our efforts, and that those who celebrated Him learned something about the Red Lord or themselves.

 

 

 

  • G.B. Marian of LV-426 Tradition (priests of Seth-Typhon) shared photos of a new Set statue he recently purchased!

 

  • A child of Nebt-het and Hethert-Nut, Itenumuti shared zir experience learning more about Set during His week and perhaps a bit about zirself!

 

  • Kemetic Orthodox gatherings were held in Massachusetts (with Khenneferitw), Ohio (with A’aqytsekhmet), and Maryland (with myself and Heruakhetymose)!

 

These were just a few examples amongst the sculptures and drawings created, stories shared, and heka enacted in Set’s name over the past week. I remain humbled by how many chose to participate in some way, how many volunteered to pull together and make this festival a reality.

Finally, if you did something for Red Week, I’ve not mentioned it above, and you would like to see it added to this post, just let me know. :)

Dua Set! May the Son of Nut continue to walk with you and lend you His strength.

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Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.

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It is Tuesday night, the end of Day Three. I sit beside my Father’s statue and struggle to find words for what I’m feeling, when two days ago I wrote with confidence about my goals for the week, and those words rang true without question.

Tonight, there is a flickering candle, transient between moments of darkness and light, and my several attempts to launch into an in-depth analysis of the past days’ events have all felt hollow.

I focus beyond words.

There is an ache in my back from additional hours spent before a screen, organizing, planning, making foolish mistakes and trying to fix them. There is a tension in my shoulders and neck from nerves relating to a new graduate program, and a particularly trial-by-fire first day of class. There is a weight in my chest for the loved ones near and far whose mental and physical demons I cannot seem to slay, who have had less of me in the past few days than I would normally give. (There is even a tic in my eye from entirely too much caffeine in a 48 hour span!)

There is also a fierce joy beyond measure at the creative works and stories in Set’s name that have spread across my community’s forums and even a few blogs beyond. There is a boundless depth of gratitude that so many continue to lend their time, their presence, their service to this event which honors the Son of Nut. There is a reverbant thrum of excitement that a few individuals who had been gone from my community chose this week to return, perhaps because of Set’s festival, perhaps because of the New Year, perhaps because of a chance.

There is also, admittedly, a growing solidity at the core of me, summoned by the soft, firm voice that says of  my school and work and caretaking, “Yes. You have done well.”

The owner of that voice sits with me and I Him, the incense I’ve lit blowing up against His statue and back to my face.

I breathe and I am so grateful for all that has already occured and what has yet to come.

I breathe and I wish other things had happened differently, that I might have done better by my community members and our gods, both of whom I endeavor to serve.

I breathe and recognize that I cannot control whether the flame casts me in its shadow or holds me aglow.

I breathe and I think that tonight, sitting here with the One who embodies such transformations, I can accept the uncertainty.

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Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.

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In late August 2014, I began putting together a series of events for my spiritual community in the House of Netjer, focusing these efforts around the worship and study of the god Set, my primary deity and the Netjeru I view as my spiritual Father. The seven-day festival, given the name “Red Week,” has already been a tremendous learning experience for me in relation to event planning, delegation, personal research for the preparation of lessons and heka, and maintaining an active practice of spiritual discernment in the midst of the malestrom of day-to-day organizational details. The last point was maybe one of the trickiest elements for me: working to maintain the necessary balance between what benefits the celebrating community in question and what benefits the god we wish to honor through our festivities. I’m sure I will continue to have continued insights about all of this as the actual event unfolds in the days to come.

I knew that I very much wanted this first opportunity in learning how to plan a spiritual event, and I knew I needed it at roughly this level/size. I have somewhat grandiose dreams of eventually working on such things both within my primary spiritual community and on an even larger scale, with Kemetics of all paths, or even other polytheists, to promote local gatherings and worship. I have been fortunate to start to find such people in my home town, and have seen how it can function: a recent ceremony held in Pittsburgh on December 21st was a tremendous success.  Two members of Kemetic Orthodoxy, an independent Kemetic/polytheist who follows both Set and Pan, a Druid, and a Ceremonial Magician came together to honor Set’s battle against Ap_p on the longest night of the year. We made our varying backgrounds work together, combining elements from our different traditions for a vibrant evening of spiritual fellowship, storytelling, song, and contemplation. While I can only speak for myself: I found it to be a thoroughly profound night.

Yet even as I look outward and to the future, as is often my inclination, so too am I reminded that the work I’ve put into these next seven days merits a healthy degree of introspection and mindfulness: I want to take time to enjoy the week for myself, to spend time with Set and consider the lessons He may have for me. I can share some of those thoughts here and on Facebook, in the hope that they might inspire discussion both within my temple and beyond, but also just for personal growth. Both, I must remind myself, are meaningful efforts and well worth my while.

I am so very excited by what has been accomplished in the past few months: so many have stepped forward to make these “Red Week” events happen; so many have given their time and creative energy to connect and listen, teach and learn. I sincerely hope that these efforts will provide an opportunity for renewed strength as we head into 2015 and a renewed appreciation for a god who, if already fairly well known, remains so complex in His identity and the role He plays in lives of His followers around the world as to be well worth further discussion, study, and worship. Personally, while I cannot, and do not, claim to be an expert — I’ve only four years to my name as His follower, two and a half of those as His daughter — I hope that what I have learned in that brief span, what I can share through my service and dedication, will still be of benefit to others.

As for my own, individual, goals for the upcoming week? It’s time to take a look within. I have spent so much time with Set as a god of change and transformation, a god who helped me to break the boundaries of the world I previously existed within to find something better for myself. With His aid I broke free of an unhealthy romantic relationship, have since found a partner who supports me and brings balance to my life. With Set’s guidance I fought my way out of the worst of my mental health issues, and have been able to come off of medications, supporting my emotional well being through other methods. Set gave me the backbone I needed to leave an academic graduate program that was pushing me beyond my physical and emotional limits, and guided me to Heqat. With His force and Her boundless patience and love I earned a place in a new graduate program, this time in clinical mental health counseling, within a span of months, and found decent work to financially support my time in school.

I think it is time to figure out what it means to exist as His daughter when I’m standing still, finally living in a healthy space, on a fulfilling path, with supportive people. It’s a strange thing to admit, but I genuinely struggle to define myself when I’m not moving. I can’t seem to understand the edges of this person who calls herself Saryt when I’m not pushing ahead to the next challenge, fighting my way out of the most recent emotional or physical scrape. When I was an adolescent I feared change, but beginning in college, and all the more so once I re-discovered spiritual belief in 2011 with Set leading the way, I have come to use change as a means of self-definition. Now that this transformative element is, at least for the time being, seemingly less necessary on the personal level? I want to work to understand who I am when I’m not fighting to become something else, and maybe, in that understanding, come to appreciate, and care for, that self a bit more.

In so caring for myself, I believe I will then in turn be a better counselor, a better advocate, a better worshiper, and a better friend.

My goals for Red Week: self-respect and self-understanding, that I can sustain my Father’s driving will to break down the bad and make space for something new, a will that I seek to emulate within myself through my words and actions.

Much love to you all. Looking forward to sharing more as the days progress.

Aqualung

Jan. 10th, 2015 09:44 am
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Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.

“Hey and you snatch your rattling last breaths
With deep-sea diver sounds
And the flowers bloom like
Madness in the spring”

– Jethro Tull, “Aqualung”

Winter can be a notoriously brutal time for many of us, wreaking havoc on health both mental and physical. I’ve been following the words of many fellow bloggers and online friends with no small degree of empathy as they fight lengthy battles with illness. I’ve listened to those coping with SAD, trying to hold to stability as the sun gradually returns to a higher place in the sky, the light lasting a bit longer with each day. I’ve read the words of folks like Aubs, who took a genuinely terrible injury after falling on the ice and yet found wisdom from it. I’ve shaken with anger alongside Aine as she described what she lives through on a daily basis as someone who is chronically ill, black, and poor. I read about these experiences with bodies that have been hurt or are constantly hurting, see discussions through various media platforms about the dangers of uncritical positive thinking regarding one’s health, and in turn find myself struggling with a vague, writhing sense of how can I make this better while simultaneously looking at my own body and recognizing things about it that would have been much simpler to let well enough alone.

You see, I really hate caving to limitations. Hate admitting that there are things that I physically cannot do. I’m as stubborn as anyone I’ve ever met when I take on a challenge, and if I say I’ll do something, it will damn well get done, come hell, high water, or hypertension.

I had the realization recently, after talking with Khenne about the trend amongst dual-Parented members of the House of Netjer to connect more with one god over the other, that this relates to why I lean so much more strongly towards Set in my spiritual practice. I take pride in the sheer grit that He represents for me and that I aim to reflect in my active, day-to-day worship of Him. Every single dawn He’s up and fighting the Uncreated One, taking the bites and the poison, largely because someone has to but no one else can. There is no sense of “backing down” in this aspect of Set’s nature, there is no “today I’m going to take a break because I need some time for self-care.” There is only moving forward, getting the job done, and putting that critical necessity, that responsibility, ahead of everything else.

Through this lens did I view my responsibility to family over the past month, cramming five cities worth of travel by bus, car, and train into ten days.  All the while I played marital counselor to aging, angry parents, served as nurse to a relative who handled his illness as maturely as a five year old, and worked as organizer for an extended family who largely seem to have stopped caring about bothering to schedule time with those who travel for hours to be with them. I did this without complaint, keeping the grief I felt contained, and instead charging forward, getting through it, seeing my responsibilities through.

I was not surprised when I became ill half way through the trip, violently so by the time I returned to Pittsburgh, fighting my way through work on Friday through the necessity of keeping my job, and then effectively collapsing after taking the bus home.

But it was not Set whose presence I felt during the days that followed, my lungs rattling from the fluid in my bronchial tube, each breath an exercise in deliberate motion, shallow and controlled, trying to avoid the minutes-long coughing spells that would leave me dizzy and occasionally half-blind from lack of oxygen. It was not Set who watched me with concern and frustration as my right hand blistered over with hot, red welts triggered by a prescribed antibiotic that my body rejected, nor was it His voice that I heard as I reached out to my gods in a panic during my third day largely confined to bed, albuterol shakes and a fever ramping my anxiety to levels that left me irrationally convinced that I was actually going to die at age 26 without some way to fight the infection, some way to help me breathe.

It was Bast who watched me with cool green eyes, Her immense presence surrounding me and then forcibly drawing out the whole of my grief for a family that had hurt me, and a body that had caved, as it so irritatingly and frequently does under such stress and pressure, to bronchitis, anxiety, and allergic response.

I wept, I choked, I gasped, I wailed, and I hated every single minute of being so utterly out of control. I hated it all the more for occurring in my partner’s presence, when he’s had his own health battles to deal with of late. But then the experience was done, the rage and grief largely out of my head and heart, and I slept more fitfully than I had in days. My life predominantly continued to revolve around sleeping for several days following. I made it to work, I did the bare minimum for other obligations, but for almost everything else which I normally hold myself responsible, I just said, “No.”

I hear Bast in that “No.” See Her in the actions of my own black-furred cat who was dealing with a cold at the same time as I fought bronchitis. For all of Sammi’s sweet “nurse-cat” temperament when I am ill, rarely leaving my side when I’m under the weather, she instead took a few days to largely rest beneath my bed by herself, until she was ready to come back and be my loyal familiar once more. Bast is far more than cat goddess alone, yet the feline propensity for self-care, self-focus (a very different beast than self-centeredness, as I would be wise to learn) is something that I believe She would have me better understand. But it keeps me from so readily embracing Her as I do Set. I feel no pride in stepping back, in admitting that my body has been “defeated” or was too weak to continue. I despise the limitations that asthma, cancer scares, and ongoing battles with anxiety and depression place on my life, how they limit what I can physically offer to the world. I struggle to love and accept my body, because I am increasingly aware that there is no amount of will power that’s going to make all of my ailments magically go away. I cannot be Set’s stubborn, get-shit-done, tough-it-out daughter all the time, much as, in my ideal world, I would.

How do I accept my Mother’s lessons, and in turn accept myself? How do I become closer to the Eye who knows how to burn brightly without burning out?

I have no answers as of yet. Only frustrated acknowledgement that this… this needs to be dealt with.

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Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.

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I have been extremely fortunate that for the past five years, every January 1st between 2011 and 2015, I have woken up in the home of much-loved Chicago friends to this view: sunrise over Lake Michigan. I’ve seen several years onmy own, I’ve watched it with a man I’d leave six months later, and I’ve even shared it with my current partner who I’ll be marrying six months from now.

This year I watched the changing shades of the sky alone, feeling a bit under the weather due to asthma but grateful as always for the past night’s company and the glory of the view, the small space of quiet in such a massive city save for the soft whistle of tea I’d set to boiling some minutes prior. My friends slept, while I gave myself a brief bit of time to contemplate how marvelously different things will be next year: one of my friends is due to have her first child tomorrow, is ready to meet him any day. I will be married and halfway through my counseling program. 365 days of change and growth and hard work and celebration.

Yet this time for me has never felt like a true ending and beginning. January 1st marks the changing of the Gregorian calendar year, but it’s more of a check point, really. I think of video games, where you’ve made it roughly half way through the level and whew, there’s the little flag to pull, the barrel to burst, which means you don’t have to push through all of this again, you’ve made it far enough that there’s no going back to the start if something awful happens, you’ve got a safety net of sorts.

That’s my January 1st. Growing up, it was school that established this sensation for me, and my first career path as an academic maintained it. The year began anew in late August: new classes, new teachers, new friends, new obligations. It ended in June, and then there was this wibbly-wobbly summer bit that felt like something akin to Van Gennep’s description of the liminal, where I was neither in one year or the next, but somehow both, recovering and progressing simultaneously.

That Kemetic beliefs regarding conceptualizations of the year fell in line with this perception was a happy accident. Of course the New Year shifts over in early August, by the Kemetic Orthodox calendar I use! Intercalary days, out of time and out of synch with the year before or the year to come, they too took very little mental adjustment. One mental envisioning of time slid neatly within and so reinforced the other.

But what then is to be done spiritually at the “check point,” the secular New Year, the point between semesters, the date that’s just under half way to the next Wep Ronpet? I might suggest that it’s a good time to take a good look at what you’ve made it through this far, acknowledge in some way that you’ve accomplished much, and simultaneously recognize that there’s no going back.

No one can take away what you’ve achieved in this span of time. Even if the actions you took were not perhaps what you originally set out to complete, you can’t be sent back to who or where you were five or six months ago, for better or worse. You’ve learned something, progressed in some way, so why not take the time to acknowledge it. Maybe even reshape the goals you set when you started this year. Remind yourself of what you wanted to do with your spiritual practice this past August. Does the new you standing at this January checkpoint have a different perspective on things now? Maybe an adjusted view on how to achieve those original goals, or a realization that perhaps the goals themselves look completely different from this angle?

Riding back to Pittsburgh, away from the state that holds so many of my loved ones, away from the state that is home to my temple at Tawy House, I feel like I’m being physically drawn away from my personal January New Years’ check point. But the past ten days have given me a lot of time to think. I’ve had time to recognize what is changing, what I’ve done to enable that change, and how I can continue to worship and learn from my gods as I walk forward with the flow of time into the second half of my spiritual year. Armed with the knowledge granted by reflection, I look forward to the adventure.

There’s no turning back, just making what I will of whatever is to come.

May your own stops at the 2015 check point prove insightful, and your adventures magnificent.

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Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.

Preparing for senut last night, I reached out to my gods, probing for the now-familiar sense of Who wished for what kind of offering this evening, Who wanted to speak with me and had a particular request for food or drink in turn. I usually hear from a few of Them each evening I manage time in shrine, their responses not necessarily coming in words, but instead more of a small, mental nudge towards a particular form of bread, tea, or fruit. Usually from this I can expect, even before I light candle and incense, Who will require my focus on a given evening, based on what I know of Their preferences, or the general feel to the presence behind the request.

Last night, I was surprised by Set.

Not surprise for Who was asking, of course. As my spiritual Father, the god who all but hauled me straight into polytheism after years of disbelief, the Name who has flipped my life upside down several times over to help me reach necessary, if difficult, goals — Set tends to get the focus of my devotions.

No, it was what He wanted that threw me for a loop.

“Offer the cards.”

While I knew immediately what He was referring to, I couldn’t wrap my head around why He was being so insistent about it. He genuinely seemed to want me to get out the Moo-mas cards and put them on the offering plate!

By way of brief explanation, Moo-mas is a fun nickname for an actual Kemetic holiday, the Establishment of the Celestial Cow.

This day celebrates Hethert-Nut’s lifting of Ra into the sky, carrying Him away from the wars of mankind that had worn Him down, giving Him the opportunity to start anew as he began a new form of leadership, ruling from the sky. The holiday celebrates Her strength, the unwavering love and power required to complete this tremendous act, even though texts specifically reference the difficulty, noting how Her legs shook from the effort until she was granted aid. The Establishment also represents the wonderful opportunity to start fresh, one of countless conceptualizations of Zep Tepi, new dawns, new beginnings, that we have in our religion.

This Kemetic celebration often falls on December 25th, the day on which many of our Christian friends and family celebrate Christmas, and a holiday whose many secular traditions such as caroling, holiday card exchange, and tree decoration may hold some appeal. The name Moo-mas seemed to stick, and new traditions developed.

The Moo-mas card exchange is one such recent practice, and one that I have treasured for the past three years. I have kept every card I’ve received in that time, put them on display as they arrived, and then tucked them away in a small basket near my akhu shrine.

But with Set’s request, I went and retrieved them. I set them on the offering plate, still confused but willing to go with the flow, going through the rest of the formal rite, and then offering them alongside pure water.

I often sing in shrine, having now written a song for each of the five gods I primarily worship, but Set cut me off even before I could begin the first verse. Again, the strong sense of the cards.

I picked them up. I opened the first. I read the message, found myself running my index finger along the ink. This was an old one, from my first year of participation. My friend still addressed me as Ekunyi here, before I’d become Saryt to her. I thought of the small sculpture that had accompanied this card, the many conversations that had followed on art, clay, creative devotion.

I opened another, touched by the small, hand-drawn depiction of both Set and Bast, the blessings offered in a handwritten script.

One of the newest cards, specifically selected for me because of the frogs on the cover, with a written in “Dua Heket!” I laughed aloud at that the first time I’d opened it, just the day before, and laughed again, appreciating the time and thought that had gone into the card’s selection, and the kind message that accompanied it.

I went through more cards, from different years, different friends and acquaintances. Yet my hands kept seeking more, even after I’d closed the last card. I opened up the doors to the storage below my shrine, pulled out beaded necklaces, bottles of sacred oil, paintings and drawings and poetry from the talented hands and hearts of so many acquaintances who had gradually become family over three years of time and shared experience.

My hands rested on a piece of linen, my Father’s outline embroidered in my Mother’s colors, a gift from a friend and spiritual sibling who is even farther away than many of the others. I teared up, just… needing to touch it, in that moment. I needed to hold it, to treasure the tangible reminder that this faith has brought me so many amazing connections, so many incredible moments of shared understanding and compassion.

Without ever having realized that I’d lost sight of it, I suddenly recognized that I had desperately needed this physical reminder of why I do as much as I do, why I give what I can of my time and energy to these incredible people all around the globe. That it counts for something. That despite the difficult times, all the horrible grief and violence and pain in the world right now, there is beauty in these connections that have been established through our mutual faith and belief in our gods.

It is such a small thing, holding a card, a beaded necklace, a piece of embroidered linen in your hand, and yet there is a profound significance to the reality of it. Touching what has been crafted with you in mind, remembering that you matter to someone, and they to you in turn.

A thousand blessings on all of you this holiday season. Thank you, all of you, for being in my life.

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Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.

…I’m making a note here: huge success.

Which is to say, via Jonathan Coulton lyrics, that I am indeed “Still Alive.”

I find it both disconcerting and yet mildly reassuring to look at my last entry here and consider how much I’ve walked through in the past two months and yet seem to have come out the other side relatively unscathed.

I found a decent job. I applied for and was accepted into a new graduate program in counseling. I made it through a crazy allergic reaction to antibiotics (which then  tried to create a sequel for itself — Scary Lesions Part Two: Son of Scary Lesions! Definitely Rifftrax material.)

I’ve been plugging along on planning my wedding, written new music for and performed with my musical duo, and have mostly kept up with my responsibilities to my two spiritual communities (both the long-distance House of Netjer work and the local Quakers I worship with, though have not formally joined.) Hell, I even learned to crochet recently! In summary: my life is extraordinarily busy and rather quirky in the range of what it contains, but it’s full of interesting people, ideas, and challenges: all in all, I’m pretty lucky.

I do miss writing though. I miss using this space, miss trying to find ways to reach out to all nine of you mysterious followers out there, giving you things to think about that have interested me or spoken to me in my spiritual life. Miss trying to capture those moments when something strikes me from my personal experiences in how it links with my beliefs, my time with the Netjeru.

I’m still having those moments, even though I’ve not made the time to sit down and write about them. I’m still communicating with my gods even if, as anyone who has watched my Offerings Log have probably noticed, my time in shrine has been woefully minimal of late courtesy of all the health stuff.

It always feels good to go back though, to just sit with my gods, light the incense, listen to anything that They might have to share. It feels wonderful to sing, connect my breath with my intent and craft a form of heka through song. It is good to return.

It feels right to come back to this space again as well.  To try to begin writing again. I have no idea if anyone is still reading this, and if not, that’s okay. I think I need to start off this effort of return by writing largely for myself and my gods. I believe there’s a connection between us that I establish here, when I write, that I’d not considered when I allowed myself to wander off for a time. A connection of thought when I just allow ideas to flow, reaching down into my own emotions and concepts, and outward for whatever sort of divine inspiration might be available to me. A creative bit of light that comforts and warms as we enter the darkest, coldest time of the year.

Yes, it is very good to return.

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And a commissioned chant for Sekhmet that also needs a melody...

Eye of Ra in all His Names
Hear my voice and let your rage be tamed
Although your anger's fire is just
I ask you hear your child and trust
That the world has been put aright again

Sekhmet, Mistress of Dread
Enough have paid, the Nile runs red
Put down your blades, be soothed at last
Take crimson beer as your repast
And sleep, the desert as your bed

Lady of the waters of the house of life
Wake to a land that's free of strife
Rise and go to those in need
Bestow your blessing in word and deed
Upon each child, man and wife

She whose heart is pacified
with music played and chanting cried
Be joyous as your Children sing
and dance for you while sistra ring
Your songs heard round the whole world wide

Protector of Kemet's children
I know in time you'll rage again
To break the demons of the snake
Your anger fierce for our own sake
But be at peace for now, Sekhmet
Yes be at peace for now, Sekhmet
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So about... goodness, two months ago? Bast got on my case that while I have written songs for Her, I've never written one that explicitly focuses on *my* relationship with Her. My Set songs are all deeply personal, as are my songs for Hethert-Nut and Heqat. Heru-wer's song is less so, but I've never gotten the sense that He wanted that sort of closeness with me. Perhaps in time.

Anywho, here's what I'm working with so far, debating if it's long enough or if I should add to it, and then hoping to feel out a melody soon.

---

The feline flicker just behind my eye
The deepest shade in a sun touched sky
The velvet touch of new life grown green
This can but begin to describe Her.

The slow sung ballad with a shout paced fast
The voices that rise calling out for Bast
The living rhythm carries what we mean
Though no music bold can hold Her fire

Chorus:
She is all the questions that decide my path
As I seek the answers that defy me
In the midst of mystery still I hear Her laugh
for She knows the search is what defines me

The strongest shield that protects the soul
The blade we wield to defend our goals
The warrior made from a fire within
This is but a shade of Ra's great fighter

The mother's love that keeps our fears at bay
The fiercest heart that claims isfet for prey
She defends Her children, all of Netjer's kin
And for this Her power burns all the brighter

Chorus

Matron, teacher, guardian, friend
Lady vast beyond measure
Though titles honor they cannot extend
to encompass all of the goddess I treasure

Chorus
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Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.

HeqatNut

Image of Hanny’s Voorwerp, the “Dancing Frog in the Sky,” from Dailymail.uk.

 

I sat in shrine and allowed the incense — a rich blend of tea leaves, sandalwood, clove, vanilla, and spices –to fill each breath. Having offered my daily prayer for the friend who continues her journey West, and sung my standard musical offering for each of my five, primary Names, the rest of ritual was open to whatever Netjer wished to make of it. Heqat and Hethert-Nut approached me as one, each taking a hand and pulling me over into a meditative state, swiftly but gently.

I floated amidst the stars, movement most easily accomplished if I treated the vast darkness as the great ocean and swam. As I righted myself, I became aware that I was some distance above the earth with my Beloved goddesses, their presences intersecting through the starry body of Nut that surrounded me. Hethert-Nut or Heqat-Nut, someOne in between, in that instant I could not tell them fully apart even though their voices remained distinct, comforting and encouraging as I adjusted my orientation to viewing the otherwise Unseen.

Why are we here, was my unasked question, known before I put it to speech.

“Look at the world, grandchild,” came Heqat’s quiet yet profoundly ancient voice.

I did, finding that in simply focusing on it, I could see, with no small amount of alarm, all the hurt and suffering, the wars and pains of the many people below. My mind “zoomed in” to a starving child, an explosion in the Middle East, a dying ebola patient. I had to retreat again to the stars after several more visions in this vein, and was immediately washed in a blanket of peace.

“You cannot stay here with us, not yet,” this was Hethert-Nut, Her presence a forceful wrap of comfort around my body.

Heqat murmured Her agreement, “No, some day, when your life has been lived. But child, you have only the one.”

Hethert-Nut’s agreement came with another emphasis of Her love of and pride in me, “Yes, and you can use it to balance these things you have seen.”

How? I wondered, still gripping to the security of these ladies of the night sky, holding to their unabating love and reassurance like the child in the darkness that I was.

“By living there, living there fully,” Hethert-Nut murmured, turning me back towards the earth which I saw now solely in the beauty of its turning surface, the incredible, mind-boggling majesty of its sheer existence.

Heqat became more tangibly Herself, “The earth is much like your body, my dear.”

I turned in Her direction, giving the glowing outline of woman and frog my attention now that there was a particular place to look.

“It has had its hurts, its hardships. Many challenges it has survived, despite the abuses its known. It is marvelously imperfect, and yet it is yours. Yours to live in, yours to inhabit, yours to claim and care for and love.”

I thought to a conversation I had with my partner earlier in the day, initially just sharing my frustrations with slight physical imperfections, but which later progressed to a traumatic experience that I had not spoken of in several years, nor ever fully dealt with. This had led to my hysterically crying as I drove us West across route 76, my subsequent embarrassment and horror, and finally my retreat into the power of my mind and my work, shifting my focus to to-do lists, planning, and mental games for the rest of our drive together.

Hethert-Nut held me closer as I put two and two together, “You cannot separate yourself from your body forever, child. It is a part of you, as much as the work, the challenges you set for yourself. You have to feel, you have to inhabit what was given to you, even if at times it is broken or hurting.”

“Live on your earth, little one. Live in your body. You have but one body, one life. Claim it, speak well of it, make what you can of it and you will do great things,” Heqat murmured, Her voice a thrum of words melding with the choir of frog song that She knows to be one of my greatest auditory comforts.

At their indication that it was time to go, I pulled myself back down into my body where I sat, kneeling, on the floor. I took a moment to inhabit that body, made myself aware of the sensation of my thighs pressing against my calves, where my hair fell on my neck, the nail that had torn the day prior, the dryness in my mouth. After settling into this state of mindfulness, this return to my physical body which I had been charged to inhabit more fully, I was greeted by another Name.

Aset-Hatmehyt, her crown shifting back and forth between the throne and the fish, approached on my left. She reminded me that part of my ongoing task was not only to inhabit my body, but to love it, and to treat it well. Fluidly joining me on the floor, she knelt and placed what appeared to be a small akhu star within my throat.

“A reminder,” She said, “that when you speak of yourself, you should speak kindly, with words that those who love you would approve of and agree.”

She then dissipated, leaving me alone with my many thoughts, and a profound sense of gratitude to all three Names who had shared this short, beautiful lesson with me.

Farewell

Sep. 1st, 2014 10:34 pm
redheart: (Default)

Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.

I lost a friend today. I will not write her name here, if only because this is a very public place, and some of our mutual acquaintances may not have yet learned of her passing. I would not want them to learn of it from my blog.

It hit me harder than many previous losses have, though I have lost friends who held a similar place in my life and heart. I wonder if this is because my relationship with the dead has changed: no longer do I simply shove the feelings of loss aside, moving forward because the person is gone and “in a better place,” but instead I find myself sitting with that death, seeing the change inherent to it. I hear the grieving lamentations of Aset and Nebt-het in my mind as I wonder how the family of my friend is mourning in their own way this evening. I mourn for her with them, and I mourn for them as well.

This person shared a spiritual Parent with me. I reached out to that Name tonight and expressed how I was aching at my loss of a sibling, felt Her sadness at the loss of a child and ached further still. We held each other in the way a Name and Her follower might, our conceptualizations of loss quite different, yet our grief perhaps more similar than I ever could have expected. I gave my Mother flowers as a sign of this shared comfort, I gave my Father flowers for offering me His strength throughout the day to do what was necessary: share the news.

DjaiShrine

I considered the art that I had made for this friend, the way that she had encouraged me to make more. I played a song from her favorite band during senut (and I sincerely hope, if she could witness this in some way, that she got a good laugh out of my attempt to sing along with Steve Perry and accidentally blowing out the shrine candle when I hit one of his famous high notes.)

Thinking of my friend, I’ll be spoiling my cats rotten tonight once I finish writing this, then donating to a local feline rescue organization in my friend’s name sometime tomorrow.

And I will move forward as I have done in the wake of losing other friends, but always take care to look back, always remember. It feels more complete this way, even if it simultaneously hurts more than it used to. I am grateful to Kemeticism for that, though I suspect it sounds odd. Grateful for teaching me a different way to grieve.

Most importantly, I am grateful to my friend: for her light, for her love, for her bravery.

Travel safely West, my sister.

Explaining

Sep. 1st, 2014 12:52 pm
redheart: (epithets)
A lithe figure stepped carefully into the clearing where a larger red bulk sat, staring bleakly into the river before her. A flick of one crimson ear was sign enough that she'd heard him, her lack of moving away proof that it would be acceptable for him to approach. Zrego still moved cautiously, the scent radiating from his aunt's flesh spoke of nothing but grief: bitter, tinged with an acrid bite that he recognized as pain. He settled himself a tail's length to her right, remaining silent, but present.

"You followed me," she murmured at last, not a question so much as a statement, yet still an opening for explanation.

"I did. I was concerned."

She chuckled softly, and said nothing further. The creatures of the night sang around them, familiar stars reflecting in the rippling water at their feet. A particularly dominant tree-dweller screeched it's hunting victory in the night, and all was silent for a moment after. Zrego spoke again in that brief silence.

"Why, my aunt? Your family is well, our territory unchallenged. What ails you so deeply that you wander off in the middle of the night without so much as a word?"

"A friend has passed."

"...but who? Lyan has joined us, your childhood friends are all in mighty packs that would take a horde to defeat, and you have not spoken of anyone else."

"I do not share everything with anyone, nephew. Some things, there is little need to bring up."

"Tell me of him?"

"Her."

Zrego nodded, dark blue eyes intent upon his aunt's face, all of his energy and focus given to her even as the sounds around them resumed their evening call and response. Jysulen finally lifted her face from the coursing water, examining him for a moment, then nodding.

"She was Daenu, tan in body with the heart to match. She loved the tiny creatures, chitters in particular, taking far more of them into her small territory than most would deem reasonable."

Zrego flicked an ear, "...then she was, not a warrior?"

Jysulen smiled, "Not in the traditional way, no. But she fought, nephew, make no mistake of that. She fought a body that was never kind to her, fought to make the most of each day even when it greeted her only with pain, and for all that suffering, she fought to bring joy to those around her, be they large or small. Every dyone day."

"Where did you meet her, aunt?"

"I never did."

"But--"

Jysulen nodded to the river, "She sent messages, messages to any who would receive them, messages that spoke of her day, of her time with her mate, of her fears and of her successes. I found one here, so many suns ago I can't remember precisely when, and was touched by it. I have since come back to this space when time permitted, collecting the little boats she crafted if they caught, reading the stories inside."

Zrego dipped his muzzle, seeing the small set of branches Jysulen had presumably bundled there for the purpose of catching the boats, surprised at the craftsmanship and time she had put in to such a small thing.

"The river flows... does she know, I mean, did you ever reach..."

Jysulen nodded, "Eventually, yes. By runner. In exchange for safe passage through our territory, I found someone to help me find her, send her things in return. Short messages of my own, and a few small gifts."

The red woman gestured for Zrego to take a few steps back and he did so, watching as Jysulen lifted a small piece of pumice rock from beside the river bank in one of her fore-hands, and settled back into her haunches, balancing. He blinked in surprised as a small golden glow appeared at the edges of the two fingers of her unused hand, and she began to whittle away at the porous stone with the olde kusani itself.

"It's the same technique as my blade, just on a smaller scale, don't look so stunned."

"But the... the concentration!"

"Yes. It was difficult at first. But Daenu was one of those who encouraged me to try and keep after it, once I'd learned. I sent her one of my earlier sculptures, a chitter designed to her specifications. She said it brought her joy, particularly when the healers came."

Zrego was still staring as Jysulen continued to work on the stone, an undeniable *face* emerging from what was once bare rock.

"Healers, aunt?"

"She was never well in all the time I knew her. Her mate searched Lavana, and even planets beyond, for those who would help. I do not know what he traded for such care, he seemed a loyal and hard-working red, but he did not have the territory to support such lavish efforts, nor a pack to support him. Most felt his mate was beyond help... but yes. She said she kept the statue beside her when these healers came to try to help her, with treatments that prolonged her life, if often at the cost of tremendous pain."

Zrego nodded quietly, "I am glad you were able to give that to her, aunt."

Jysulen nodded, setting the small rock down for a moment. She moved back to the riverside, pulling the sticks that had once caught the tan's messages from the water. Carefully, she bound them together with the thick, ragged grasses that grew in patches around them, then tested the small raft in the water itself. Zrego squinted slightly to see as she placed the small stone figure upon it, murmured something softly to itself, and then released it.

The young striped leaned his full weight against his red aunt as they both watched a tiny tan Korat made of stone float gently west as the water carried her away.
redheart: (Default)

Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.

music2

Singing isn’t easy. It’s often downright exhausting, depending on the length of my rehearsal or performance, and the space in which I’ve been asked to perform. I generally need some time afterwards to decompress, and use that time to think about how the singing went, what I can do to improve the next time. After one such hour of intensive one-on-one work with my vocal instructor, I sit down in a coffee shop with my tablet and begin to write out some of the important issues that arose during the day’s efforts.

My notes from that lesson look roughly as follows:

1.) E-vowel needs to be adjusted for full, open sound. Start with ah-ooh-ee to get lip positioning, use y to slide through. ”Ah”s need to be brighter, but careful not to go too bright. Avoid the nasal, lift the soft palate, open the mouth fully.

2.)  Significance of pronunciation does not need to be hyper-realized, can be understood even if consonants are not so harsh, don’t cut off your air to over-emphasize the text. Ride the breath, get the sense of up and over the note, place the voice on it, keep it out of the throat, and don’t let it fall down when shifting between vowels.

3.) Too much mental focus on the minute things I’m singing, and how I’m singing them. Intonation stays stable when I stop thinking and just let myself go after establishing the initial intent.

Set is present across the table from me, sipping the coffee I offered as per usual when we go to this cafe. He watches me write, lets me mentally run some of the concepts past Him with the occasional nod, but looks progressively more and more amused as I poke and prod at each idea individually and consider how to improve upon it.

“You do realize you are writing yourself a how-to regarding spoken heka, right?”

I raise a mental eye-brow. “It’s 17th and 18th century opera, Father. I know I’ve written about heka and music before, but this is fairly specific to an Italian, Baroque cultural frame work.”

“Think about it when you next practice.”

“…You’re pulling your ‘Great of Voice’ title on me again.”

“Absolutely.”

So I humored Him, having learned that my Father is not one to be deterred from nearly any matter He brings up, and came back to the list with a fresh eye a few days later. I explored the ideas I’d written out through my vocal practice that day, and realized that maybe there was something to His initial suggestion. In three main areas — pronunciation, breath, and intent — there genuinely seemed to be some significant cross-over. Lessons from my vocal training could, perhaps, also be of use in my study of heka.

Pronunciation

I struggle with pronunciation at times in my voice lessons. My vowels retain traces of my heritage, a “Balmer” Maryland nasality touched with the extra “r”s of Midwesterners who “warsh” their hands. I practice for hours to appropriately open my vowel sounds for romance languages or to fluidly combine them for German vowels with umlauts and schwas. The accuracy of pronunciation matters a great deal to me. It must be correct if I am to effectively convey the language I am trying to sing, if I am going to accurately share with my audience the meaning behind the text, and if I am going to prove myself a knowledgeable and worthwhile singer to those listening who may fluently speak the language I am trying to share.

With this in mind, it was fairly intriguing to me that in her book on Magic in Ancient Egypt, Geraldine Pinch writes:

Spells had to be distinguished from everyday speech, so they were usually chanted or sung rather than simply spoken. The exact pronunciation of many of the words was important, particularly cryptically written words that claimed to be the secret names of gods and demons. This knowledge was presumably passed down in oral tradition. The Graeco-Egyptian papyri sometimes mention the tone of voice in which divine names are to be pronounced. In one Hermetic text, the deified Imhotep explains that ‘the very quality of the sounds and the intonation of the Egyptian words contains in itself the force of the things said.’ (68)

I had to laugh as I related this to my own singing experiences: of course intonation and quality of sound conveys a force! On the one hand, careful pronunciation presents the force of the meaning of the words I seek to share with my voice: accurate intonation is key in the transfer of information, the successful portrayal of words and their associated content. On the other hand, that pronunciation extends beyond the words into emotive, connective power.

An impassioned speech or a beautiful song serves as a tool of connection, emotionally asking us to experience sound in a wholly different manner than something that is simply recited aloud. It has a force to it that is difficult to put into words, but which many of us have likely experienced, establishing a connection between performer and audience, or a communal group of singers. This connection has been studied extensively on both socially experiential levels (see Victor Turner’s concept of communitas) and biological manners (note an article relating to the synchronization of heartbeat amongst choral groups.) In my experience, this communion of feeling and power can be experienced between two or more people, but also between us and the divine. I have lost myself as I sang for Netjer before my shrine, connecting to them in a way no words could describe as I sang, enunciated sacred texts and personal prayer in the profound way that melody necessitates.

Breath

When I pronounce my lyrics well, in such a manner that I am able to convey both textual and emotional meaning successfully, I feel incredibly powerful through my singing. Yet over-pronunciation during vocal lessons can result in a serious issue with the success of my performance: cutting off my breath. An over-emphasized consonant closes my throat, keeps my mouth shut for too long. The constant flow of sound comes to a halt as I physically lose the vibrations which previously rode along the air. Falling, the resonance shifts down into my throat where things strain, crack and come to a painful halt. Supported breath, an uninterrupted stream of air maintained through the strength of the diaphragm and stomach, is the vital force behind singing. Without that support there will be little reason to worry about the details of the mouth’s position and the knowledge of pronunciation, as the sound will never come to be. Both are equally necessary in one’s efforts to successfully, and powerfully, sing.

As I wrote about in my prior post about music and heka, I noted that the latter has been described as a “pneumatic exhalation,” an “occult force that infuses the world of things” (Te Velde 1970, 170).  This invisible power, controlled through the breath, and indeed existing as breath itself, was also given a physical, internal aspect. In multiple texts, heka was described as a bodily aspect which could be swallowed or eaten, and thus resided in the abdomen. “When [heka] was transmitted, it was transmitted, as the nature of the information passed on required, from the entrails of the one who possessed it to those of the one receiving it.  Consequently, the malignant forces ranged against the gods preferred to attack their hearts and viscera in order to gain complete mastery over the powers their victims possessed.  To penetrate … the belly of a god was an easy way to establish oneself in the most intimate part of his being and acquire a position of domination there” (Meeks 1996, 96).

If “dominating the belly,” controlling the stomach and the breath the stomach powered, was viewed such a significant way of controlling one’s magical force, so too is control over the stomach a necessary means of controlling vocal power. Air creates the vibrations between the vocal cords, within the mouth, and one’s subsequent control over the air, moving it forward firmly, smoothly, but without pressing too hard, allows for a ringing tone. An unsupported breath becomes a dull, lifeless sound that does not carry. Breathing from the gut and using the stomach to hold that air? The resultant sound rings throughout a room, layered with overtones that the human ear will not perceive as pitch, but which change the timbre of the voice to something undeniably rich, vibrant, and resonant.

Intent

It can be challenging to balance the many critiques of my vocal instructor, shifting back and forth in my mind between the exacting shapes of my lips and tongue while simultaneously trying to breathe appropriately and keep the production of my sound above that ongoing current of air. I have found over time that I am often far more successful in practicing one component at a time, then bringing them together in preparation, and finally just “letting go” and completing trusting the intent behind what, and how, I am going to sing. If I am confident, the many little details of my lessons will come together, my voice is powerful, supported, and accurate in pronunciation and pitch. If I hesitate, something falls awry as my micromanaging one detail leads me to neglect another.

So too does this confidence become vitally necessary when I step from the lesson into performance. I must be self assured before my audience: a nervous performer is recognized as such from the instant they step on stage, their posture and expression give them away and are subsequently contagious. The audience expects those nerves to present issues for the musician, becomes nervous themselves. A confident performer puts an audience at ease, and indeed shares that confidence with them. They are not distracted from anything but the musical utterance, and so that opportunity to communicate, the chance to share the power of song, is not obscured by the obstacle of concern.

Writing of one particular magical utterance, Robert Ritner notes that,  in one particular spell, “…the magician himself acts as the ‘fighter’ and claims to be able to turn the enemy’s head and feet back to front and make all its limbs weak. Concentration of the will must have been an important part of making such assertions. The magician’s confidence would then be passed on to the client” (1993, 72). The magician and the musician must concentrate on their will, their intent, and then fully trust in their intentions, if they are to successfully connect with their client or listener.

Performing Musical and Magical Utterance

Combining pronunciation, breath, and intent requires a careful balance between a deeply embodied, physical awareness and a highly mental and emotional action. I cannot sing if I am physically ill, if my vocal cords are injured, if my attempts to breathe result in a coughing spasm rather than firm, bodily control from my gut. I cannot sing if I am mentally ill, if my mind cannot focus on memory, if my self-confidence has been beleaguered to the point that I cannot trust in my own ability to do what I intend with my music.

Yet singing can become heka unto itself in those moments of illness: I have sung long enough at this point to gain control over my breath when I am sick, having stopped asthmatic spasms in their tracks with a breathing exercise from a vocal lesson. So too have I fought depression off with song: standing erect for an hour, forcing my body upright so as to properly create a strong, powerful, sound, I have turned my mood around for the better. Mind follows body, body follows mind, and in singing, with its natural balance between the two, I can help myself attain better health. It is physiological and psychological. It feels like magic, and in truth: it is.

Robert Ritner writes of Aset (in this case, using the Greek form of Her name: Isis) and what makes Her so powerful, what gives Her such control over the magic that She is known for. He quotes the Metternich Stela where Aset speaks, saying:

I am Isis the goddess, the possessor of magic, who performs magic, effective of speech, excellent of words. (34)

Ritner then notes that, “The preceding statement of Isis is also of value for its clear declaration of the tripartite nature of magic, being viewed as an inherent quality or property to be “possessed,” an activity or rite to be “performed,” and as words or spells to be “spoken” (35).

Aset’s magic, Her heka, is possessed within Her body. She performs it aloud, breathing and then chanting, or perhaps even singing, words of power.  She pronounces, with excellence in confidence and command, the significance of those words. She is the master of magical utterance, and perhaps, in Her own way, a prima donna of musical utterance as well.

Dua Aset in Her year! Great Magician, I greet you, and am glad to find a similarity between us. May it lead to greater understanding. 

Dua Set for leading me to this realization. Thank you for helping me to better know your sister and myself. 

 References

Meeks, Dmitiri and Christine Favard-Meeks. 1996. Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Pinch, Geraldine. 1994. Magic in Ancient Egypt. London: British Museum Press.

Ritner, Robert. 1993. The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice. Chicago, IL: The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Te Velde, Herman. “The God Heka in Egyptian Theology.” Jaarbericht van het Voorsaiatisch-Egyptish Genootshap. Ex Oriente Lux 21.

 

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...in any way, shape or form.

And there are certainly a few folks that still post fairly regularly, or every once in awhile!

But I guess I just want to say, to those of you who used to write and no longer feel up for it, or have moved on to other places where you feel better suited to express yourself, I'm still thinking of you. And I miss you.

I hope you are well.

Much love,
Me.
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Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.

Do akhu play a role in your practice? How do you work with the akhu (shrines, rites, etc)? How do you set up an akhu practice?

Learning to honor the akhu, or the blessed dead, has been a challenging process for me. I wasn’t someone who came to Kemeticism with any prior experience of ancestral veneration. Those who had passed away were mostly gone from me, or so I believed, either “far away” in some form of afterlife, to be seen again only when I too passed away, or simply gone as I often felt in my moments of pessimism and spiritual doubt. Learning to open my mind to the possibility that maybe I could still connect with them, honor them, even speak with them? It remains an ongoing effort: difficult but rewarding at the best of times, disconcerting at the worst, and altogether strangely more challenging for me to speak about in a public setting than my interactions with the gods.

With that in mind, this post may seem less candid than others, with fewer references to specific individuals than you may notice in other posts where I readily discuss which netjeru I spoke with, how I perceived them, etc. This relates to that discomfort I mentioned: I struggle with the idea that I might be mishearing one of my ancestors, particularly those I knew in life. With the akhu, it’s harder to forgive myself if I feel that I am not accurately discerning what I actually hear from what I’m mentally making up, for reasons that are difficult to explain. I suspect it relates somewhat to ideas that the gods are beyond human error, will not be affected if I misinterpret something now and again. But to mistake the words of one of my family members, someone likely only being reached out to in this context by me and me alone? It sits strangely at my core, and often prevents me from reaching out beyond the recitation of specific prayers, or a quick hello as I walk by.

My akhu thus have a more generalized role for me, for the time being. I do have a dedicated shrine for them in the living room of my apartment, decorated with photos of various individuals from both my family and my partner’s family, and a few family heirlooms. At least once a week (though I am trying to up this to a daily practice) I greet them aloud, formally welcome them to share my home, and offer water. The water offering is later poured into a specific spider plant that I bought as part of a fundraiser at a Race for the Cure event, and thus I view this as a way of honoring the many akhu my partner and I have lost to cancer over the years. I do not revert this water myself, as I follow the Kemetic Orthodox practice of not reverting the offerings given to akhu, but instead give them to nature or, in my case, a small bit of nature that I tend indoors.

I will light a candle or incense on special events and holidays that would have been significant for my known akhu (their birthdays, Father’s day, veterans day, etc.) I also attend sixth day festival chats hosted by the House of Netjer’s Rev. Raheriwesir, speaking my ancestors names aloud and sharing them via chat, so that they are remembered and, as some say, so that they live.

I also engage in certain practices that relate to my ancestor’s culture and spirituality as a way to honor them that falls outside of what might be viewed as specifically Kemetic. I have learned and prepared various recipes from my Italian great-grandmother’s cookbook. I attend a Methodist church when I visit my father at home, to honor the faith that was so important to many, many generations on his side of the family, even if I personally no longer identify with that particular religion. On occasion my partner and I will sing or play songs that his father liked in front of the akhu shrine, or bake biscuits to recognize his southern heritage. It has been good to share this aspect of my practice with my partner, as I think it helps us both to deal with our losses in some small way, and to always remember.

The memory aspect is what touches me most, I think. Even if I struggle to communicate via conversation like I do with my gods, even if I have moments of concern that perhaps some of my particularly devoted Christian akhu would not want to be recognized through formal Kemetic ritual, they all deserve to be remembered and honored. You can be creative with how you choose to go about relating to those memories, what actions you take to recall what they loved, who they were, what they cared about. But whatever you do, it is worth it to spend that time walking with their memories, thinking of how you personally reflect those who came before, and allowing them to live again as you speak their names and remember.

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Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.

“I need help.”

I finally admitted it aloud, my mind begrudgingly aware of the fog of weariness creeping in around the edges of my caffeine-induced consciousness. My hands still on the wheel as I drove south from Illinois to Texas, my shift at the “helm” was a necessary one; my sibling Tenu needed the rest after driving for the better part of twelve hours straight, and we were in the middle of nowhere — not a safe place to stop and mutually snooze. I had promised to wake zir if I got tired. Tired was not an option. Zie needed to keep sleeping, at least for a little while longer, and I needed to keep my promise.

Thus, damn stubborn Set-kid that I am, I reached out to my gods a second time, sheepish about doing so over something seemingly as trivial as a road-trip. “I need help. I have to stay awake. Please.”

We’re here, as we always are. You are not alone.

The mental ping of words came from several gods at once, my mind somehow translating various ideas, colors, images that flooded my headspace into five distinct presences. My spiritual family of Netjeru. The gods I worship each time I perform the rite of senut all giving a little boost in their own way, now also including my newest Beloved, Heqat, who formally joined me at Retreat.

Set suggested shifting the CD to a livelier song with a stronger rhythm. Hethert-Nut, leaning strongly towards Her Hethert side, encouraged me to groove. I did an awkward sitting-in-a-car boogie to the beat as She laughed and cheered, the movement waking me up. Heqat simply settled as a calming presence around my neck and shoulders and I stopped worrying about the weariness and focused on keeping myself mentally present, a much more productive use of my energy. Heru-wer offered His light, and suddenly the headlights of oncoming traffic seemed a little brighter, the night not nearly so oppressive in its magnitude. Bast just talked to me, and this was a wonder in and of itself… we don’t often just speak, She and I.

We talked of many things, including my experiences at Wep Ronpet at Tawy. She noted how I was healthier these days, had focused enough on myself that She felt comfortable making a request that pertained to external matters. It is time to seek balance between Her and Set. I seek my Father daily, speak with Him readily, have done research and written essays for personal use in His name. Some people do not even recognize my associations with Her, so much do they link me with Set. At times, I feel closer to my Beloveds than I do my own divined Mother, and She has been here far, far longer than any of Them, longer than Set as well.

I would have felt guilty for this, but She would not let me. Instead she gave me goals to focus on, goals that will take a fair amount of discernment and effort, and so I may hold them fairly close to the chest for the time being, having already shared them with those who She instructed me to reach out to. But it is worth recording some of what occurred at the House of Netjer’s annual Retreat here, to hold myself accountable in a way.

Upon my arrival at Retreat, Shefyt (an amazing daughter of Bast herself!) was one of the first people to see me, and she came running across the room to greet me with a giant hug. It made me feel so immediately welcomed again, so very Home-with-a-capital-H that I practically teared up. Shortly thereafter I went to greet Hemet, and saw a Bast prayer card with Bast depicted with a green face. Hemet explained Her associations with malachite, in part through Wadjet in later periods, and I made a mental note that I wanted to *know* this and other such important associations in the future. The following day being Aset’s birthday, I wore a green and black dress, mostly because Aset (albeit largely through Hatmehyt) tends to approve of my indulging my feminine side. No less than five people complimented me on it, saying that it looked like I was wearing malachite. Point taken, Lady.

That evening in ritual was a highly emotional experience for me, one that I am still largely processing. What I can note, was that I received tremendous comfort from both Sekhmet and later Zat, who gave a particularly wise point of advice when she mentioned that I was so much my Father’s child right now, it might help if I reached out more to my Mother, remembered that I was Her child too, and allowed Her to help me approach and deal with emotions that I have otherwise worked to repress via throwing myself into five thousand projects.

On Wep Ronpet itself, I stopped by Bast’s shrine after the festivities had been completed. I kneeled, offered full henu, admiring the many gifts that had been left for Her (quietly regretting I’d not brought any of the mint-chocolate offerings She loves.) She gave me the aforementioned instructions then, and told me who I was to share them with.

image

Bast shrine at Tawy

I’m still reeling a bit and was certainly startled then. But as the day progressed, and gifts were exchanged (an AGI Bast being *given* to me which was mind-blowing in and of itself) I received another present from Netjer. The ribbons from last year’s Wep Ronpet ceremony, which had been tied around each of the gods, were distributed to those still present. I received Ma’ahes’ ribbon, and just… laughed warmly at the realization, friends sitting next to me looking amused as I seemingly cackled at nothing.

I need to work on remembering that I am a Child of Bast. Who better to help than one of the gods who is, in fact, a Child of Bast?! Main spiritual goal for the year understood, Lady. I realize it took a spiritual clue-by-four, but I’m listening, and I will do right by you.

On the secular side of things, I am moving forward towards finding, applying to, and beginning a counseling program — ideally one with arts/music therapy as part of the counseling degree. As I joked to Tenu, I feel like I’m amassing a Support Squad of gods as I work my way towards this. Set has discussed how His strength, and my personal reflection of that strength, will be necessary as I move forward along this path, both to maintain my own boundaries, and to face on a daily basis the isfet that is eating the hearts of my clients. Heqat and Hatmehyt mutually suggested my creation of a “mindfulness” shrine external to my senut space, somewhere I could go and pray regardless of purity concerns, where I could engage in self-care through meditation and also offer prayers to those who might need my counseling, that they too could find a way to care for themselves and accept what help I might give. Sekhmet has offered Her aid here as well, mostly to me, but also to others.

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Art by A’aqytsekhmet that will be the focus point of my mindfulness shrine

The most surprising addition to this group is Nebt-het. Last night, Tenu and I did senut together at Tenu’s home shrine in Texas. We went through the ritual, made offerings, and then Tenu noted zir mothers were very, very present — did I have any questions for them? I had one for Hethert-Nut, which I asked, and received an encouraging response… but Tenu insisted that the pressure remained.

What could Nebt-het want me to ask Her? I’ve only just barely worked with Her. A ten-day effort to get to know Her culminated in my daily praying for each of the victims of a mass shooting in California, and finally praying for the shooter and his family as well. It was challenging, but I did it, and suddenly I wondered if this was the point. I had the strength to deal with those who were grieving, to look at violence in the world and continue to make space for both the dead and those who mourned them. I asked Tenu to inquire via fedw if Her ten-day request was to show me that I was ready to become a counselor, specifically given my interest in serving communities which have dealt with trauma, and received a firm yes. The presence, Tenu noted, faded abruptly thereafter, but not without a brief message: I am to reach out to Her if I need Her as I move forward along this path. Though still surprised, I am grateful for Her support.

It feels like a lot to wrap my head around, but such seems to be the way of Wep Ronpet. There are many new beginnings, many new challenges to tackle. I hope to be better about writing out my thoughts on these matters, sharing them with those of you who may be reading this blog. I encourage you to reach out to me if you relate to anything I write, if there are any questions I might answer, or ways I might help you on your own journeys this year. As They reminded me on that late night drive that started this whole train of thought: the gods keep us from being alone, yes. However, we, as a greater community of Kemetics, both within the House of Netjer and without, can also fend off loneliness by writing, reading, sharing. Do not be alone. There is no need. I can speak only for myself, but know others out there who feel the same: do not be alone. I am here. I would sit beside you if you’ll have me, no matter the distance.

Di Wep Ronpet Nofret, my friends. My love to all of you.

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Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.

God radios: How to live with one, how to live without one. What happens if the reception is bad, or the gods quit responding?

So I’m typing this as I finish reverting the morning coffee I offer to Set on a daily basis. The process goes as follows: brew the coffee, formally offer the coffee, chat with Set about this, that, or the other thing, and then revert the coffee once it’s cooled down (and once I’ve added milk — Big Red may like His coffee black, but I’ve tried, can’t do it.)

The part of this relevant to this month’s Kemetic Roundtable topic is of course that I’m effectively telling you that nearly every morning, for several years now, I hear the voice of a thunder god in my skull and we have a full fledged conversation to kick off the day.

Let’s start with the nuts and bolts of the thing: what is this like?

For me, it’s entirely mental. I hear nothing externally, it’s more like someone has tapped directly into the processing portion of my brain and delivered the information without the necessity of making its way through the ear canal. As for what that mental voice sounds like? That varies too. If my connection is good, so to speak, He has His own unique sound. To my mind, He’s a solid baritone, with the capacity to dip into Paul Robeson-esque epic bass if He wants to, which sounds more like a rumble than anything else.

If I’m less focused, I don’t pick up the timbral details, or it may even just be words that I interpret in my own standard mental “thinking” voice. These are the moments when discernment becomes very important — is it actually Him, or did I just hop aboard the USS Make Shit Up? It can be a frustrating process of doubting what you’ve heard, asking for clarification or verification, or using some alternative means (i.e. divination) to verify.

Granted, Set will usually Gibbs slap me for doubting, but that’s just how we work. Your mileage will almost certainly vary, and only you can know what the best way is to double check what you think you may be hearing.

It’s important to note also, that this is most assuredly not the only way to get that god radio functional! In my experience, it’s not solely speech that comes through. This can vary from person to person, but also from god to god. For example, for all that I can pretty much reach out to Set whenever, wherever, and begin a conversation, my mother Bast? Far more diffuse, and far less likely to respond in words than a strong emotion, or image. Hethert-Nut gives me the impression of physical sensations. Heru-wer has a knack for leading me to things in the Seen realm and not using many mental communications at all. Heqat reaches out to me via meditation, which can use any combination of the methods described above.

On your end of things, it may be useful to develop your own form of lexicon for how *you* interpret god communications. I’ve done the following exercise several times when I reach out to a new god before I sculpt Them, trying to establish a connection and way to determine Their feelings on my work as I go.

In shrine (or whatever form of sacred space works best for you, be it in the Seen or Unseen worlds) make an offering to the god you are trying to contact. I usually keep this simple, light the candle, light the incense, offer bread and water — I can make it fancier once I have a better sense of their preferences.

Ask for the god to communicate with you (and the word communicate is important, as that leaves the *how* of it open to interpretation) within the next 24 hours. Explain why you wish to make that connection.

Try to clear your mind of your own thoughts. I find focusing on the candle to be a helpful method for this.

Then, just observe. If something comes to you at that time, be it a voice, a color, an image, a sound, take note of it. Also note where your mind is tending to wander when it shifts away from focusing on the candle. Are you thinking about how the flame moves? Are you noticing certain reflections on an image in your shrine? Did you suddenly remember something that happened previously? Any of this could possibly be the way your brain interprets the god radio. Thank the god and close the ritual as works for you.

Also observe what happens for the rest of the day? Do you see any particular animals? Do you have any other thoughts that strike you as important? Do you notice a particular color popping up all over the place? What do you dream when you fall asleep that night?

It is not all going to be the god radio at work of course, but chances are something might stand out to you as particularly significant. God communication is not all about mental conversations, not everyone has them, not everyone needs to have them. I believe it is a life long process for everyone to determine what form their interaction with the gods is going to take. They may be silent in speech, but speak to you through art, or writing, or music. I firmly believe that anyone can communicate with the gods: it’s just a matter of finding the “language” that speaks to you.