I do not like the idea that another person is my sole connection on a physical plane (the kingly ka, the special heka, the Oracle) to Netjer, to my Parents and my Beloved. I know that personal piety existed in Ancient Egypt, and that the state religion as practiced by the pharaoh and his lay priests was not the only way to connect with the gods. But I do not want someone else being the necessary link between my gods and myself. I basically do not agree with the idea that there needs to be a king before there can be any sort of love/communication between Netjer and the average Joe Hotep. I will think on this, meditate on this, and hopefully come up with some answers for myself. This does NOT mean that I am considering leaving the faith, just that in order to stay true to myself, I will not be taking any more vows within Kemetic Orthodoxy -- service to my gods and ma'at is enough.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
This will be a very short post. I am a Shemsu, I have taken Shemsu vows. But in Kemetic Orthodoxy, for now, that is as far as I am going to go. I love my Kemetic family, but I can choose not to undergo weshem-ib and still love them the same. There is a desire in my heart to serve my gods in any way that I can, which logically means to become a Shemsu-Ankh, then a wa'ab. I do not know if becoming a wa'ab is the right way for me to serve my gods. Being a lay priest doesn't feel exactly right on account of one thing: In a recent post, Hemet(AUS) has said that Kemetic Orthodoxy is her faith, and that she is the sole priest. In other words, the official connection between the people (Remetj and Shemsu) and Netjer through the kingly ka. I have no problem with Hemet(AUS) as my spiritual leader, as she is highly educated and well informed about Ancient Egypt as a whole, it's history, culture, geography, religion, daily lives etc. But I do have a tiny issue with her being the "king", the center of the Kemetic Orthodox universe. Maybe it's because I live in America, where freedom from monarchy is taken for granted, and democracy is seen as the only form of acceptable, humane government.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
I admit it. I stole the title of this post from my favorite Bob Marley song. The song describes the blossoming relationship (or continued) between Marley and his girl. It's so sweet and sentimental, and makes me feel all fuzzy inside. Which is how my Kemetic family makes me feel. This post is really about family. MY family, the family I have found in Kemetic Orthodoxy. Despite having only met one KO person in "real" life (as opposed to "just over the Internet life")-Pekhty, my sister, I still feel like every time I log in to the KO forums, I am somehow visiting a temple dedicated to the Egyptian gods, a sacred place where I can discuss my gods, my role as Shemsu, anything, with fellow followers of KO. Even though there have been some nasty debates, even flat out arguments on the boards, they are mostly buried deep within the dusty realms of the AtN archives. I am close with at least four people, and they make me feel more connected to Tawy and to my religion as a whole. I could practice Kemetic Orthodox without having any contact with anybody besides myself, and I would be fine. I don't necessarily NEED them--I can breathe, eat and perform Senut without them. But I pretty much LOVE them. I understand why Jerusalem was created, why people exist in relative harmony there. It is a beautiful thing, to be around others who feel the same way you do about your basic belief system about the foundations of life. Even though I have never attended a Wep Ronpet celebration, I can celebrate at home with my gods, in my shrine. And I know that multitudes of followers around the world will be celebrating Wep Ronpet when I do. This is part of my family--we all are different in terms of age (I'm the youngest divined House member), financial situation, ethnicity, background, tastes, appearance, and opinions. Yet we all share the same fundamental truths about Netjer. This is what makes my heart sing whenever I talk to one of my brothers or sisters in the faith--they believe in the same gods and goddesses that I do, they celebrate the same festivals, they love Egypt in all of its beauty as I do.
In other news, the first statue of my Father Djehuty that I ever got (well, I only have one other one but still) broke today. It was on the floor because I was/am redoing my shrine, and I was dancing around and knocked him over. I think it hit a bowl or my stone hippo figurine or something because his writing arm broke off. :(
It's slightly ironic because I had ordered a different Djehuty statue, but when it came it was the wrong one, so I'm giving that one to my sister Tekeni. I am totally happy with that decision still, but Maret offered to trade my incorrect statue for the one that I had originally ordered. I turned her offer down because I had already said that Tekeni could have it. So I ordered another Djehuty statue, 11'' black and gold, with a white sash and a writing tablet. He is right handed, apparently. Now I'm just wondering what to do with the broken statue. Maybe glue his arm back on and put it on my mom's bookshelf next to her Hethert one. (I gave it to her so she wouldn't feel bad about my dad leaving her).
It's two in the morning. Wow. Life only gets weirder as night turns to day, and Wesir transforms into Ra. Hmmm......
Monday, December 7, 2009
For a while I followed the teachings of Buddha, and practiced the way of life as taught by him. I meditated every day, and didn't think about reading any of the wisdom texts available. I just was. Which was fine, until Egypt stepped in and replanted my roots elsewhere. Even now however, Buddha is one of my greatest teachers. Here's one quote that I particularly love:
"The mind is everything. When we think, we become." -Buddha
It reminds me that I have the power to change what I do not like, and I have the will to make it happen. Following my heart will only bring me happiness (not just happiness, but it will be the right course of action to take) and by doing that, I am creating what I want, not just sitting around thinking and wishing. Whenever I read this quote, which is often (I have it on a stickie note on my laptop) I know that now is the time for me to change, to be what I want in the world. It dovetails with Zep Tepi, and the Zen idealism that is still with me.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Sometimes, when I'm in a particular mood, I will remember a quote from a close friend of mine. It is accompanied by the gesture of throwing one's arms up to the sky, spaced slightly wider than one's shoulders.
"My life is a black hole!"
I say this when things seem to be especially bad or terrible, or when two or more things on my Checklist of Life are going badly for some reason:
Checklist of Life
[ ] school
[ ] social life
[ ] horse (he deserves his own category)
[ ] religion/spirituality
Normally I would make another category and title that one "writing" but that is an ongoing process, and even if I am stuck with writer's block, I don't view that as bad. More like an obstacle in the road that I have to remove in order to live. How does this relate to Kemetic Orthodoxy? Whenever I feel like quoting my best friend, I remember my name, and that my Parents love me no matter what. When everything is being sucked into the vortex, and nothing is visible, there is no light, and even space-time is warped and dying--I remember to smile, and pray.
Ritual to me means Senut. Sometimes I am afraid of getting to attached to Senut, to the daily structure and deep feelings it inspires in me, because Senut does require tools. Some of these tools are not mandatory, but preferred in my case, such as statues of my Mother and Father. Others are required; incense, natron, candle flame, water. There are ways to get around this if these things are unavailable--natron can be replaced with kosher salt, incense with perfume, candle flame with those little electric candles. Pictures of the Names can be printed out and taped to the inside of an Altoid tin, along with a small vial of perfume, a couple of grains of salt. Water and bowls can be found anywhere. I am worried that I will come to rely too much on the shrine, the material objects of my faith. I will meditate on this, but it is something that I have been thinking about for at least a week now.
Space-time can be applied to Kemetic Orthodoxy*. The "space" of a shrine, of a seat of divinity, is sacred and the more time spent revering Netjer in one space, the more one can feel the sense of holiness and divine love in that space. (Partly I believe this is because humans are creatures of habit, and if you feel Netjer in one space, soon you will begin to associate that space with Netjer). The "time" is the time spent praying and listening to Netjer, whether or not you are in shrine, sick, bleeding, or traveling (all issues to consider). I have also noticed that the more I pray, the more I remember to pray. Before, when I would half-heartedly sit in front of my shrine and talk at Netjer, I wouldn't feel Netjer's presence, or remember to pray throughout the day. Now that I am developing a daily practice, learning how to infuse my day with moments and glimpses of Netjer, of the divine in everyday life, I pray all the time. I pray before I drive anywhere (to Wepwawet, Opener of the Ways), in the shower, at school, during lunch break, in class before a test, and random moments in the day. I barely have any hymns memorized, so usually I will just whisper things to Netjer, little things about my day, or what I'm feeling. And I feel Them more now.
Another favorite quote of mine was dictated by KI Sesha from the goddess Seshat:
"Time is a reversion offering."
The definition of a reversion offering is an offering that is given, then taken back as a form of offering from the one offered to. Say your friend gives you a piece of cake. After eating the cake, you give her a piece of cake. This embodies the concept of a reversion offering, except in Kemetic Orthodoxy, when food and drink are given as offerings, the Netjeru don't physically consume the offerings--They consume the spiritual essence of the food and drink, which is then turned into a reversion offering once we consume the physical part of the offering. In terms of time, however, it is more simple. Seshat meant that the amount of time you spend with Netjer, the more time Netjer will spend with you.
Stephen Hawking might strangle me.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Today, I did the ritual of Senut. It sounds like a small step because those who practice Kemetic Orthodoxy around the world perform it as well. That is the point. It is a ritual written by Hemet(AUS) that is personal and enables us to follow and worship/revere/honor (pick whichever) our gods in a way that respects the ancient precepts of the faith.
I didn't offer much in terms of physical offerings, but the offerings I made were from the heart and made with good intentions. I actually felt more pure and calm after performing Senut, more at peace with myself and the world*. Doing Senut was a small step, but it felt like a big effort. I got out of bed to start the day at my usual time, fully expecting to skip my photography class, but I made it on time--I had only spent maybe ten minutes in shrine, whereas I think I was expecting it to take a lot longer than that. Why?
Because I didn't know that Senut would feel like coming home again. I knelt in front of the statues of my gods, and was happy. I spoke with Them about many things, and about a strange dream I had. My problems were solved throughout the day, and sometimes all it took was a brief flashback to the feeling of peace and ma'at I felt during Senut. Then I would gather my will and carry on with the day. A small step for myself, a giant leap for me.
Before, my ideas were just that. Ideas. It feels so good to finally get off my butt and DO something about the ideas, the wishes and wants. I am fulfilling myself, step by step. And this is only the first.
I have purchased two books on Japan, one is a generic phrase book (the cover looked pretty) and the second is a slim guide on the etiquette and customs expected in Japan. I feel like this is a small but solid step toward my goal of going to Japan and wandering around all the Buddhist temples there. I also bought a small chunk of lapis for Amun, for whom I will do Senut on Friday. :)
Small accomplishments mean a lot today.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
There is a reason why the background for this blog is a blue hippopotamus. And why it is staring straight out at you. In Ancient Egypt, these blue hippopotami were given to Taweret as votive offerings, informally given in the family shrine. (Well, She was never included in the official state shrines-I'm not sure why the Pharaoh didn't include household deities amongst the state ones). The hippopotamus was revered for its brute strength, and in the case of the males, its physical vigor and territorial nature. The female was surprisingly not really revered for its motherliness (I guess cats and lionesses took the award for that one) but more for her tenacious protectiveness of her young. The hippopotami is also connected intimately with the Nile River, that being its main source of food and protection from the searing heat of the sun. The blue color of this particular figurine to me symbolizes water, the life-giving water of the Nile. Water was essential for purity then, as it is now in my daily practice. With regards to my Mother, water is Her element, the place where She can communicate through the feeling of water on skin, with the feeling of being purified and cleansed physically and spiritually. This is also why showering every day is a necessary part of my spiritual practice. :)
I have a little blue hippopotamus figurine that was one of the first offerings I gave to my Mother. Every time I see the lotus flowers etched into the sides of the animal, I am reminded of Nefertem-Ra rising out of the lotus flower that was the First Time. I am reminded of beauty within nature, no matter the type of flower. There is even a little bird perched on one of the lotus flower stems, which reminds me of my Father, always there. So this little blue hippopotamus figurine is more than just an offering-it is a tangible, physical representation of my faith. Blue is also the color I associate with ma'at, and the principle of balance in life. Whenever I go on a trip, or if I am unable to have a permanent shrine, I will bring along the blue hippopotamus, and will be reminded of my faith and the things that bring me love.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
I've heard of religious/devotional calenders before, and have always felt that my spirituality shouldn't be confined-that something that makes my spirit feel free shouldn't be confined to a day of the week, or a time of the month.
Recently I've reconsidered. I think it's a good idea. High school is hectic, what with all these due dates, and friends to keep track of, and a certain boy to keep at bay. I don't even have a job, or bills to pay, and I haven't done Senut in over a MONTH!
Now I've made a calender:
Monday-Senut for both Taweret and Djehuty
Wednesday-honoring Odin, Rune casting or something. I haven't quite figured this out, but I know that He needs to be in there somewhere.
Thursday-Senut for Djehuty
Friday-Senut for Taweret (I was born on a Friday, and I owe Her my life, literally. So She gets the day of my birth)
Sunday-Senut for Amun (I thought this would be slightly ironic and humorous, since Sunday is when every devout Catholic goes to church and says "Amen" after prayer).
As you might notice, Tuesday and Saturday have nothing scheduled. I don't have my Akhu in there because I'm not ready to deal with anyone other than gods right now. I think doing Senut four times a week is a lot, especially since I might need to skip my seven o'clock Photography class to do it. Maybe I will just do Senut three times a week, and have it look like this:
Monday-Senut for Djehuty
(for some reason I feel like Dad should start off the school week ;)
Wednesday-Odin's day, reserved for contemplation of the Runes and His words. We'll see.
Friday-Senut for Taweret
(as stated above, were it not for my Mother, I wouldn't even be alive. Her day of honor is on the week day of my birth then.)
Sunday-Senut for Amun
I think this works better, with Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays to just honor spontaneously. Or maybe I should just have a Mother and Father Senut on Monday, then Wednesday for Odin, and on Fridays do Senut for Amun.
Clearly the idea of a spiritual calender is a lot more confusing than I thought it would be.
Ok, one last try:
Monday-Senut for both my Parents.
Tuesday-no special practices
Thursday-no special practices
Friday-Senut for Amun
Saturday-maybe offerings to my Akhu?
Sunday-a day of REST.
There. I've done it. :) Now to keep it.
Recently I have fallen in love with my gods again. Not in a romantic, boyfriend-girlfriend kind of love-but the love that is there no matter what, the love that exists between deity and follower, parent and child, the love that is expressed in my every waking moment. I have realized that even though I may be in physical pain (as I am now-getting teeth pulled is never fun) or emotional pain (relationships between people are messy and sometimes inconvenient, but we humans let our heart strings become tangled too easily) the love for my gods will always be there. Their love for me will always exist as well.
In Kemetic Orthodoxy, which I am a Shemsu, or royal follower of, the gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt (also called Netjer) individually create our souls, otherwise called the ba and the ka of a human being. They do this through the spoken word, and through this word, the essence of a person's being is created, sculpted, sung into being. I love the idea of my life being my Parent's creation, that I am the creative expression of Deity manifested.
The three main gods that I follow and serve are: Taweret, Djehuty and Amun. They are Netjeru, part of Netjer, and They have created me. I know this with my entire soul, and i feel it in my heart. My Mother, Taweret, is one of rivers and hippopotamus, she comes in strength to aid the weak and the pregnant, and can be a tender mother or a fierce warrior goddess who fights off demons in the Duat. She is a hippopotamus standing upright, with the paws of a lioness (all the better to slash demons with I suppose) and a crocodile upon her back. In Ancient Egyptian art, this crocodile is sometimes assumed to be Her son, Sobek, the crocodile god of kingship and guardian of the Nile River. I love my Mother Taweret, the One Who Comes In Perfection, the Lady of Pure Water. I see her when the sun glances off the water, throwing sparkles of light into the world, in the luminescent mist of a waterfall, and in the secrets of my own heart.
My Father, Djehuty, is the Wise Ibis. He is commonly depicted as a man with the head of an ibis, as a full ibis or a baboon. He is the Healer, the Musician, the Calculator, the One Who Writes. My Father speaks with wisdom, and is always one step ahead of me. Whenever I have a problem, He always has the answer-but most of the time He leaves me to figure it out for myself. He is credited with inventing hieroglyphic language, mathematics, astronomy (the study of the stars and the night sky), medicinal practices, the game of Senut and much more. He is the Netjeru of knowledge, the never static one who make the world run according to its laws. He is comforting, loving, tender, but I have never gotten Him as a wise old professor always ready to have a cup of tea and discuss philosophy. I have gotten Him as a heron, white and illuminating the dark spaces in my mind, the places where I have buried my secrets so deeply that only He can dig them out. He comes to me as a trickster, one who will make you laugh to find the answer, one who will always be on the winning team. I love Him with all my heart, and will serve Him forever.
My Beloved, Amun, is a mystery to me. I have felt His presence once in shrine, while doing zazen style meditation. There was a silence, as if before a storm, and then a great humming pervaded the air. It was the sound of silence, of pure quiet. He is the Hidden One, the one of riddles and secret doors, and I'm sure He would appreciate a secret garden as well. He has been called the King of the Gods, and that epitaph is true in my experience. He is very regal, and kingly, presenting Himself with an aura of great power that can only be wielded by a god. He has chosen to be present in my destiny and in my life, whether or not I ultimately recognize His presence or not-He is the Hidden One after all, Lord of the Wind.
My gods are precious to me, They give me joy and love and hope, when all I can do is sob and be utterly human. They lift me up, and promise me a better time, where I will experience Zep Tepi and rejoice in the art of living. They do not promise it as a far off, maybe in the future promise, but as a vow that in a moment, in an hour, in a day, I will find joy in life-because I am Their creation, I am Their song and breath. How can I not experience life as pure ecstasy when They have given it to me?
For Ma'at, and my gods.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
This blog is primarily a place where I can write about my spirituality, a place where ma'at is spoken and kept, and where I may voice my thoughts on god, life, the state of the world and so forth. In Kemet, zep tepi is a term used to describe the First Time, the moment of creation. This is the zep tepi of my resolution to be a good person, to serve my Parents in any way that I can, and to honor Them through my actions. This is one of those actions.