Recap.

Over a month ago, I made myself a list of goals.  I meant to come back and see which ones I’d achieved in about four weeks time, but February has kind of come and gone and most of my time was spent with family and friends, and I never really got back here.  So I figure it’s time to take a look at that list of goals and see where I am now that a new month is upon me.

  • Secure the necessary photos for the Akhu photo book I got for myself and create a drawing for the cover space.
  • Find an appropriate plant/flower(s) for my Akhu shrine, and work on completing the altar.
  • Double and triple remind myself of the 6 day Akhu ritual event in February.  I’ve been meaning to attend for months, and always manage to forget.  I even have the white candle necessary, and have had it for at least six months.
  • Light candles and spend a few minutes in shrine to give thanks to Netjer and my Family before settling in for the night.
  • Create a personal prayerbook for original prayers.  Write some original prayers! Also create a morning ritual for my Dad, and at least spend a few minutes at His altar when I wake up until I can come up with one.
  • Stop being a shy feeb and attend one of the Saturday night fellowship chats on stickham.
  • Commission artwork for my Beloveds, Djehuty and Serqet, that will be used as a backdrop on Their altar.
  •  Attend at least one of the Senut support chats that are taking place this month.
  • Spend some time reading about my Divine Family and actually work on updating Their pages on this site.
  • Make an effort to be creative in Netjer’s honor, particularly in ways that I am unfamiliar with.  I’ve been feeling a push to create for Them, but I’ve yet to discover just what it is that I’m meant to do.
  • Unearth the rest of my Kemetic books from my boxes so that I can actually work on getting through them.
  • Either find the oils I already purchased (went missing during the move >.< )  or obtain new ones for offerings.  Replenish candle supplies.

Most of my list was pretty easy!  I’m actually still having trouble finding appropriate Akhu photos though – a lot of them have pictures of other people in them, and some I can’t find copies of at all.  It’s pretty frustrating, all in all, considering the sheer amount of photos we have in this house.

Attending the stickham chat was pretty easy, though at this point I’ve still only attended the one.  Saturday nights are usually one of my first nights of the week to relax, and I generally like to laze about and do nothing.  Socializing is actually something I consider kind of.. taxing.  Heh.

I have actually purchased a clean notebook for a prayerbrook for original prayers, but have yet to really sit down and try to write some.  I have been writing creatively a lot, and I consider it a constant offering to my Beloved, Djehuty.  It’s been incredibly fulfilling and quite the personal journey so far.  I started out kind of small, and am now considering rewriting a lot of my work and putting some new effort into a lot of old projects that I liked but never dedicated too much time to.   I’m quite excited.  It’s not necessarily what I had in mind when it came to being creative in Netjer’s honor, but it’s made me happy thusfar, and I think that’s the important part.

I’ve fallen behind with the Pagan Blog Project, but I’m trying not to stress about it so much.  I have posts in mind for my second C and first D submission, so perhaps I shall get to those before this week is out.  I do also have some photos to share, so I will try to get those up before too long.

Hope everyone out there is doing well!  Dua Netjer!

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PBP: C is for Calling on the gods

C is for Calling on the gods. 

When you believe in a god, or gods, I think one of the basic ideas behind that belief is that you can ask for help.  That you can pray for things like guidance, patience, strength, or prosperity, and Someone will hear you.  It’s a comforting thought, that even if no one else in your life is paying attention, They will hear you.

I can’t say that I think that if I pray for prosperity and then go out and buy a lottery ticket, I’m going to end up winning a few million dollars.  I can’t even say that I think that if I pray every day for my mom’s physical health that she’ll make a miraculous recovery and be saved from her far too early decline in life.

Some people might wonder then, well, what good is asking for help if you’re not going to get it, or you don’t believe that you’re going to?

I suppose I just take something else away from praying.  I enjoy those moments that are just between myself and my gods, knowing that They are there and hearing my words and caring about me.  In a community sense, it makes my burdens less to know that others are listening to my request for prayers for those I love, or even for myself.  To know that again, someone is hearing my words, and it matters.

That’s not to say that I don’t believe in Divine Intervention.  I most certainly do.  Those moments when my mom surfaces from her pain and is well enough to spend the day with me, talking and laughing.  When I can take her out of the house, even if it’s just for a taco bell burrito, I know They’re there.  They may not grace me with a winning lottery ticket, but perhaps my monthly bills will decrease enough to allow me some extra spending money, or that thing I wanted so badly but couldn’t afford will come as a gift from someone I love.  It’s those small things that enrich my life, and make the day to day just a little bit easier.

I don’t call on the gods, or request prayers, expecting a miracle.   I just want to know that I’m heard, that I’m cared for, both by my gods, and by my friends and family.  Anything else is just a bonus.

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Getting it together.

My monthlies were over last week, incidentally on the same day that HoN celebrated the Victory Festival of Heru.  The time had finally come for me to commit to getting back into Senut, and surprisingly enough, I stuck to my guns and went through with it.  I say surprisingly because I’m most definitely known for making decisions that seem practical and good, and then finding some way to not follow through.  It’s one of the reasons I rarely make promises unless I’m completely sure about the specifics.

I prepared for the evening by doing some light shopping.  I had to get a few things for dinner anyhow, so I made a point to pick up some mix I found for date bread.  (Don’t look at me like that, baking from scratch is something I rarely have the time or patience to do!) After reading some of Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods I’ve made a point to buy accumulate different things for offerings, including honeyed sesame bars with dried fruit, figs bars, and dried dates.  I’ve never really had Netjer turn down any thing that I’ve ever offered, but I think it’s a nice thing to try to make offerings of things that are either similar to, or the same as things that were offered in antiquity.  I also have a nice stock of scented tea lights that I picked up from Ikea a few weeks ago when I bought my daughter her first big girl bed.

After a busy evening of making dinner for my family and getting the kids cleaned and in bed, I made my date bread and attended the Victory festival.  I always enjoy Wednesday gatherings when there’s a dua, especially ones with heka involved.  In addition to celebrating Netjer, I’m learning something, and experiencing something new.  I’m always surprised at how simple most of it is.  There’s so much power in just our words and intent.

For the first time ever, I decided to try my hand at taking a shower for the purity bathing.  In the past I’ve always taken a bath, and spent at least 15 minutes in the tub clearing my mind and relaxing.  Nowadays my alone time is severely limited, typically to late in the evening after the kids have gone to bed, and sometimes the end of the day is the only time I can get a regular shower in.  I don’t tend to like baths for cleansing purposes, so I wanted to see if I could be comfortable taking a shower and performing the purity ritual.

One thing I learned pretty quickly – use warm water when mixing the water and natron.  Cool or cold water rubbed or poured over one’s body while in a hot shower is not that great of a feeling!  Aside from that though, the process went without a hitch (though I guess what can really go wrong in this situation?  XD )

I got an inexpensive white shirt dress last month for my purity clothing, as for some reason my old Senut clothing disappeared during the move.  I wasn’t ever particularly happy with them anyways, and I had always intended on finding something better suited, so it all worked out anyways.  The garment would be a little short for performing Senut with others during Wep Ronpet, but in private I feel very comfortable.

Going back to Senut for the first time in months was very draining.  I had a lot to say, and the emotions all just kind of tumbled out.  Guilt and shame for not being in shrine for so long, among the more private personal feelings concerning things in my life that I won’t divulge here.  It was very rewarding though, and I slept decently for the first time in a long time.  Since then I’ve managed to get Senut into my evening ritual before settling in for sleep, reading and/or gaming for the night.  I’m always surprised when I realize that it really doesn’t take altogether too much time.

I’ve been spending time reading, mostly about Wicca lately, and I’m interested in reading more.  I’m not entirely sure where this is all going, but it’s catching my attention and holding it, which is more than I can say for a lot of things.  I recently received my copy of Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt and am excited to get started on it for the February book club selection.  There isn’t nearly as much discussion on the readings so far as I would like, but at the very least, it spurs my motivation for reading the books I’m interested in.

I’ve made some good headway on my list of goals, but there are still a few that I can’t seem to be arsed to spend time with yet.  I’m not sure why, perhaps I’m just not ready, or maybe it’s something less dramatic and I’m just lazy.  (:

On one last note, I’d like to ask for prayers for the ka of Reverend Deena Butta, known at HoN as Mekhatsenyt, who passed away this week.  She was a Shemsu of my faith, as well as a priestess for the Fellowship of Isis.  I did not know her personally, but she has been involved in the lives of many that I know and care for, and her loss is felt deeply by many.

 

PBP: B is for Books, Books, and more Books!

Books have been an important part of my life since I was very young.  In a world where I never felt that I fit in, I could find adventure, love, happiness, mystery – anything I wanted –  in a book.  The passion for reading has never left me, and I find that even today, I can still find just about anything that I’m looking for in a book.

This is especially true when it comes to searching for information on religions (not just Kemetic!) that have been around longer than we’ve been alive.  Kemetic Orthodox is considered a reconstruction of ancient worship, and as such, one of the easiest ways to learn about those practices is to read.  It’s certainly not the only way, but in the long run, if you’re truly interested in learning about ancient practices, it will be a part of your quest.

But…but…books are expensive!

Five or six years ago, the cost of books wasn’t an issue for me.  I bought what I wanted, and I bought them often.  With the economic crash my family lost a lot (my mom worked in the mortgage business), and now with both my parents medically disabled and in need of care, we’re on a fixed income for an undetermined amount of time.  Buying books usually falls to the end of my list when I budget for bills and such.  My parents and uncle are fairly generous with me, and they try to allow me a decent amount of spending money for myself because they know I can’t get a paying job right now, so I do have some personal cash, but if I were to shell out money for new books the way I used to, it wouldn’t go very far.

To that end, I’ve gotten quite good at sniffing out bargains and alternative ways to access the books that I’m interested in reading.  The first, and most obvious answer of course is the library.  This can be a really great (and free!) resource for a lot of people, provided that you live in a large area.  In the last six months I’ve moved from a small county to a large county, and the list of available texts related to Kemet has increased practically 100 percent.  If you’re looking to use your library, find out if they offer interlibrary loans.  This is basically a program where all the libraries in the county are networked and if there’s a book in one location, it can be sent to the one nearest you.  It’s a handy resource, and one that I adore.

If you’re in college/university, you’ll likely have an even larger resource.  Most university libraries are attached to a similar interlibrary loan program, but on a much larger scale, and generally with more scholarly resources.  As an alumni of my local university, I have limited access to this, but I need to pay the fifty dollar yearly subscription before I can use it.  One of the things on my list to achieve this year!

One of my favorite resources for books is a website called Paperback Swap.  It’s something I discovered a few years ago, and it’s gotten me so many books for very little money.  What you do is list books on the site that you are willing to get rid of, and people request them.  You pay to ship them (media mail!) and it earns you a credit that you can now use to request any book that other sellers have available, and they pay to ship them to you. The books of course are used, but the site requires that they be in good condition, with covers and pages intact, no stains, etc.  You can add books to your wish list, and set your preferences so that when they become available you are alerted.  Sometimes you’ll wait awhile for a book, but if you’re not in a major rush to get something, I think it’s worth it.

Another good place to look is an online bookstore called AbeBooks.   They sell textbooks, new books, used books, and even rare books.  It’s basically a platform site used by thousands of booksellers, making the selection enormous, and the prices competitive.  In recent weeks I’ve purchased several Kemetic titles for less than five dollars each, including the ever popular and recommended Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods by Meeks and Ancient Egyptian Literature: Vol. I & II by Miriam Lichtheim.  They’re not brand new copies, and they’re not the newest editions, but the content is what’s important to me.

You can also find great deals from time to time on Amazon.  In the past year I was able to purchase a digital copy of Richard Reidy’s Eternal Egypt for four dollars.  If you’re really dedicated you can sign up to take surveys from places like Valued Opinions and earn vouchers for Amazon, which is one of the great ways that I’ve earned money for books.

Well… what should I read?

A loaded question really.  The list could be endless.  Do you want to read from an historical point of view, or a modern one?  Are you interested in how the Kemetic people worshiped the Netjeru, or do you want to focus on the Netjeru and Their stories?  If the answer is yes to all of the above, you could be busy for awhile!

A brief listing of the most common books I’ve seen recommended (all of these currently reside in my Kemetic Library):
Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods by Dimitri Meeks * – a compilation of myths of some of the more common Netjeru, how They lived (including what They ate, what They look like, and where They lived), and other useful information.
The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt by Richard H. Wilkinson * –  a resource that is encyclopedic in nature with an extensive (but not exhaustive!) listing of the Netjeru along with decently informed descriptions and symbolism. Keep in mind that Wilkinson most often uses the Greco-Roman names of the deities.
Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: The One and the Many by Erik Hornung * – I’ve yet to read this, but it is the next selection for the ongoing House of Netjer Book Club.  It is said to be a great resource for those particularly interested in the syncretic mysteries of Kemetic deities.
Eternal Egypt: Ancient Rituals for the Modern World by Richard Reidy  * – considered to be one of the best books for modern practitioners who want to revive and reconstruct ancient rituals.
A fellow practitioner at HoN has a wonderful listing of books she recommends here if you have further interest!
If you are of the House of Netjer or ever intend to study our practices I highly recommend The Ancient Egyptian Prayerbook by Tamara L. Suida [Hemet (AUS)].
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PBP: B is for Becoming a Shemsu

A few days late, but I made it!

Before I get started on the meat of my post I want to explain the ranking within the hierarchy of Kemetic Orthodox.

Beginner – member who has chosen to take the Beginner’s class to learn more about the faith and KO practice

Remetj – member who has completed the course.  Kemetic word meaning “royal subject” and implies that someone is a friend of the faith.

Divined Remetj – someone who has had their RPD performed by Hemet (AUS) but at the present time has not taken Shemsu vows.

Shemsu – someone who has received their Kemetic name and taken vows to put Kemetic Orthodox and their Family gods before other religions and deities.

Shemsu-Ankh – someone who takes additional vows to serve and honor Netjer, the Nisut (AUS), and the Kemetic Orthodox community during the Weshem-ib (testing of the heart) Ordeal.

Past these designations are rankings of the clergy, all of whom are chosen from the Shemsu-Ankh.  While these rankings help keep our Temple in order, a person is no less important or welcome within the faith depending on their rank.

B is for Becoming a Shemsu

Upon simple explanation of the tasks involved, one might think that earning the status of a Shemsu is no big deal.  Fill out an application, attend (or don’t) some classes, read lessons from your email, apply for an RPD and get divined, receive your name and take your vows.  In general, the most it really takes is time.  It’s not until you take those final steps that the hard part really begins.

The application is fairly straightforward.  You are required to provide personal information such as your physical address and your legal name.  I believe requiring such information is an attempt to keep people honest, you are not permitted to be an anonymous entity in the faith simply because a majority of it takes place on the internet.  However, this information does remain private, and the applications at this point in time are only seen by the Nisut (AUS).

Personal information is followed by a short series of questions regarding your reasons for wanting to take the class and be a part of KO, as well as your feelings regarding the internet aspect of the religion (most of our fellowship and activities are carried out online via live chats).  If you are under 18 you are required to provide parental consent.

Depending on when you stumble on the community, or decide that you want to take the class, you might have a long wait before the next one.  Classes occur on a rolling basis, usually every three to four months.  You might mail in your application and it can be months before you hear a response, which can be pretty nerve-wracking. On a bright note though, the declines for acceptance are few and far between.  As I understand it the main reason someone is declined is because their reasons for joining the faith have nothing to do with wanting to be closer to Netjer, or exploring their spirituality, but rather to “be different from their family” or something like that.  Being Kemetic and/or pagan shouldn’t be about what other people think, but about what you want.

After you receive an acceptance letter from Hemet (AUS) and the class starts you’ll receive a number of emails from the person teaching the class, in my case it was Reverend Sedjemes, one of the most familiar faces around the HoN community.  The emails include everything from information on how the classes will work to a list of books that might be of interest to you as you explore the faith and Kemet in general.  It can take a couple weeks for this process to be complete.  In my case the official lessons didn’t begin until about three weeks after I received my acceptance email.

There are ten lessons total, numbered 0 to 9. They are received in parts on a weekly basis.  You can choose to read them straight from your computer, or print them out and keep them in a binder.  I’ve even known a few people who converted the pages into PDFs and uploaded them onto their eReaders for convenience.  Each lesson is accompanied by a quiz that you are asked to return to your teacher.  You are not required to do them weekly, but asked to do them at your convenience.  It’s much simpler to complete them on the weeks that you receive them, but schedules and life do not always permit such a thing.

In addition to these lessons and quizzes there are live chats with your classmates and teacher twice a week.  They are scheduled and will likely occur at the same times each week.  You are not expected to attend these classes, but it is highly recommended because the emailed lessons are really only the tip of the iceberg and will likely lead to many questions that can best be answered by your teacher.  Sometimes there’s just no way you can attend the classes (time zone difficulties and schedules that you cannot alter).  You can always email your questions to the appropriate person if you cannot attend the class, but before you do, I would recommend reading the chat log that will be sent to you after each live class session.  It is possible and likely that the teacher answered your question in lecture, or that someone else asked the same question.

Once the class is finished (after roughly two and half months) the clergy involved with the beginner’s course will schedule one on one time with you, whether it be via email or a live chat so you can discuss any remaining questions or feelings you may have about the course and Kemetic Orthodox in general.  You will have the choice to accept the ranking of Remetj and remain on the forums as a friend of the faith, or not.  Taking the course does not require you to do this, and becoming a Remetj does not come with any vows to the faith or to Netjer.  It simply means you’ve completed the course and have an understanding of Kemetic Orthodox.

After you graduate and have decided to join as a Remetj (if you do!) you will get added to mailing lists for House events, the monthly devotional calendar as written by Hemet (AUS) each month, and other pertinent information that members might pass on to the lists.  I don’t know if there’s a specific schedule for when Hemet (AUS) offers you the possibility of taking part in an RPD (Ritual of Parent Divination), but I received an email concerning this about a month after my class officially ended.

Some people are ready as soon as their class is over, some people aren’t.  I know of at least one of my classmates that waited over a year to get his RPD done.  The ritual is not a requirement of the faith, or of practicing any Kemetic themed faith, it is simply a step in becoming a Shemsu of Kemetic Orthodox.

The Ritual of Parent Divination isn’t something to go into lightly.  To choose to have Hemet (AUS) divine your Parent(s) and Beloved(s) should signify that you have faith in her connection with Netjer, and as your spiritual teacher/leader.  You should (and not everyone does) go into the process accepting that Whomever is divined for you are indeed the deities that created your soul and have a personal interest in your life path, even if They turn out to be gods you didn’t expect.  It is my humble opinion that if you leave with RPD results that you are dissatisfied with, you likely didn’t have the faith in Hemet (AUS) that you should have had in order to choose to allow her to divine for you.

There is nothing wrong with choosing your own path and deciding on your own which deities are your patrons.  I feel it is important to really sit down and think about what is right for you as a person, and not choose to continue these steps simply because you’re curious about what Hemet (AUS) will divine, or because you want to eventually get a Kemetic name.  It’s far easier to pick up a dictionary and choose your own name (one you’ll for sure like!), and doesn’t involve making a vow to gods that you might not intend to keep.

Once the deities of your Family line up have been divined you will have the choice to continue to the next step and make your vows as a Shemsu and receive your Kemetic name.  It is not required, and if you are not certain that you’re ready to make the vows of a Shemsu, then I recommend waiting.  Choosing not to take the vows immediately does not mean that you’re turning away from the gods of your RPD.  Many people want time to get to know their Family, especially if a deity that they weren’t familiar with has shown up.  Some just aren’t ready to make a commitment to honor Kemetic gods above all others – this happens frequently with people that meld multiple paths of spirituality, and it’s perfectly acceptable for you to do so.  Two friends of mine, one of them in my beginner’s class, have both only recently decided to take Shemsu vows and be named after more than a year since they’ve been eligible.  There’s no one way to do this, the only way should be what is right for you and for your spiritual road.

Naming ceremonies take place once a month, usually the last Wednesday and Friday,  if there are people that are eligible and ready.  I’m not certain if you can be Named in private, but I imagine if it’s absolutely impossible for you to make either time frame ever, then Hemet(AUS) would make a special allowance.  Your Kemetic name will include your Parent’s name if you have a single parent, and if you have two, it will somehow signify Who your parents are.  For example, my Father is Khepera, and my Kemetic name is Shukheperas’ankhi – loosely meaning Khepera’s sunlight makes me live.  My spiritual sister is a daughter of Khepera and Set, and her name (Tanakhtsenu) means the one belonging to two strong ones.

Once you have been named you are charged to learn the secrets of your Shemsu name and to keep them well.  In addition to this, by becoming a Shemsu you are making a vow to honor the gods of your RPD first and foremost, and that Kemetic Orthodox is your primary spiritual commitment.  (not ONLY, but primary!)

If this is a path that interests you, in any way, I encourage you to tread on!  But make the choices of your heart, and the ones that are right for you, and not because of what someone else says, does, or thinks.  Vows to a god or gods should never be taken lightly, no matter what pantheon They’re from!

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*Banner courtesy of Emky of HoN

Goals.

It’s been a little over a month since I’ve made my return to the HoN forums and to the weekly IRC events.  I feel better spiritually, every day, and manage to find purpose beyond my video games (which are fun, but ultimately just a hobby and shouldn’t be a lifestyle) and the caretaker sort of life that I live.  It’s a wonderful, happy thing for me.

Even so, there’s so much more that I need to do, that I need to work on.

When I first resurrected my shrine, I was on the cusp of my monthlies and unable to perform Senut.  In the time since then, I’ve found numerous reasons not to do so.  I needed new whites, I needed to make a fresh batch of pure natron (my old stuff somehow got wet and I didn’t feel safe using it), I needed to find a comfortable time of day to do it… the list was and is endless.  It’s now back to my monthlies and I am unable again, regardless of my reasons.

Enough is enough though.  No more making excuses, no more hiding because I’m worried that I’ll enter my shrine and hear No One.  I had the same fears when I was first getting ready to start trying Senut, and they were unfounded.  I need to remember the feeling I had back then and hold onto it.  Remember that as a Shemsu of Kemetic Orthodox, Senut is and should be a part of my routinely worship.

Other things I want to achieve in the next few weeks:

  • Secure the necessary photos for the Akhu photo book I got for myself and create a drawing for the cover space.
  • Find an appropriate plant/flower(s) for my Akhu shrine, and work on completing the altar.
  • Double and triple remind myself of the 6 day Akhu ritual event in February.  I’ve been meaning to attend for months, and always manage to forget.  I even have the white candle necessary, and have had it for at least six months.
  • Light candles and spend a few minutes in shrine to give thanks to Netjer and my Family before settling in for the night.
  • Create a personal prayerbook for original prayers.  Write some original prayers! Also create a morning ritual for my Dad, and at least spend a few minutes at His altar when I wake up until I can come up with one.
  • Stop being a shy feeb and attend one of the Saturday night fellowship chats on stickham.
  • Commission artwork for my Beloveds, Djehuty and Serqet, that will be used as a backdrop on Their altar.
  •  Attend at least one of the Senut support chats that are taking place this month.
  • Spend some time reading about my Divine Family and actually work on updating Their pages on this site.
  • Make an effort to be creative in Netjer’s honor, particularly in ways that I am unfamiliar with.  I’ve been feeling a push to create for Them, but I’ve yet to discover just what it is that I’m meant to do.
  • Unearth the rest of my Kemetic books from my boxes so that I can actually work on getting through them.
  • Either find the oils I already purchased (went missing during the move >.< )  or obtain new ones for offerings.  Replenish candle supplies.

A nice size list, but not impossible.  I think I’ll do a goal check in four weeks, which should allow me to have a chance to attend the 6th day Akhu ritual event.