Tag Archive | PBP2013

Monthly Goals and Other Things.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve poked my nose out around here.  I feel a bit ashamed of course, giving up so quickly (once again!) on the PBP, and in general not blogging like I’ve always intended to.  To be fair, a lot of things have happened between now and the last time I’ve posted, though in the end, I’ve just generally been lazy.

That’s not to say that I’ve stopped my Kemetic practices!  I speak to Netjer pretty much every day, I pray, and I generally make offerings of water, flame, and incense (candles in my case) every day as well.  I suppose what really happened here is that because so much of my practice is so routine, I didn’t feel it was necessary to really blog about any of it.

Then again, a blog is about more than reporting what you’re up to, yes?

So, for the month of May, I am dedicating myself to some more goals.  I have already posted about them on the HoN forums, but I will make mention of them here (perhaps a double posting will keep me honest!)  This month I will endeavor to make more use of my blog, I will make an effort to learn about and get close to a Name that is outside of my Family, I will perform Senut at minimum three times a week, and I will remember to make weekly offerings to my Akhu and write a few letters to them.

From my previous list of goals I still need to assemble an Akhu photobook (I have the book, but not copies of the appropriate photos), work on a personal prayerbook (once again I have the book, but haven’t done anything with it), work on completing my Akhu shrine, and spending more time learning about my Family so that I can update Their pages accordingly.

I have a lot to do.  Heh. And I’ve decided to pick up on some other projects as well…

I recently read about a project being done by a fellow Kemetic – you may know her as Emky, though she was also recently named Itenumuti.  She has spent over a year consistently recording prayers in a notebook for our community – a sort of original heka prayer process.  I think it’s an amazing idea, and am wanting to adopt the practice.  I have also signed up to join in on the Kemetic Round Table!  With any luck I shall also resume my PBP activities, though I will likely spend some time with the current letters instead of trying to catch up.  ^.^  I have some photos of my shrine space to share, and I will attempt to get those up before the end of the week once I have them uploaded and resized.  Looking forward to putting more energy back into this place.

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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.

pbp-kemetic

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!

pbp-kemetic

*Banner courtesy of Emky of HoN

Pagan Blog Project 2013: A is for Aset-Serqet

Last year I wrote an “A is for Aset” post, and while I’m still happy with the original piece, I think that thanks to the bit of reading I’ve been doing over the past month I can write a better post for Her.

A is for Aset-Serqet

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Aset is one of the five children of Geb and Nut, who had to be born on one of the days that exist outside of the year because Ra proclaimed that Nut would never be able to give birth on any day of the year.  He was trying to prevent Nut’s children from ever usurping His reign over the Two Lands.

Aset would eventually be the one who tricked Ra into revealing His secret name so that She could learn the secrets of the universe, and so that Ra would be forced to relinquish His earthly reign over Kemet. In a story that I have recently read, She created a cobra, and in doing so, made the first creature that Ra had no dominion over because He had not created it.  Early one morning when He went out walking, the cobra bit Him and Ra fell deathly ill.  All of the Names tried to help Him, but could not.  Only Aset could help Him because She alone had knowledge of the poison that ran through His veins.  She told Ra that only if She knew His true name would she be able to draw the poison out.  Ra listed off His many epithets but none of them were His true name.

Finally, when he could stand the poison no longer, He made Aset promise that She would reveal His name to none save for Her son, who would one day be the ruler of the Two Lands. The story also proclaims that once Ra retreated to the heavens and gave up the earthly throne, Aset and Wesir became the new rulers, but as I understand it, Geb was first to take over, so the truth in this version of the story is suspect.

Aset married her brother, Wesir, but was forced to conceive a child with Him using magic after He died.  In some of the recent stories that I have been reading, Wesir was killed by His brother Set and dismembered, but from the research done by some at the House, I know that this myth didn’t surface until much later in history, and that the earliest stories feature Wesir accidentally drowning during the inundation of the Nile.

She is a great practitioner of magic, and in many instances proved to be quite cunning, particularly when it came to protecting Her son, Heru-sa-Aset.  During a council meeting amongst the Netjer to determine whether Set or Heru-sa-Aset should rule over Kemet, she is banned from attending, but manages to trick her way to the meetings multiple times.

It is said that Aset can take the form of anything because of Her skill with magic, except for the male form.  She is often considered one of the Queens of the Netjer, and is known by many epithets including Mistress of Magic, Queen of Heaven, and Mother of the Gods.

Aset is dual aspected with Serqet, I believe to emphasize Her protective nature, particularly over children.

She is often depicted with wings, an imitation of one of Her sacred animals, the kite. Other imagery She is associated with include a sundisk headdress with the horns of of a cow, a vulture headdress with a royal serpent on the front, and the double crown of the Two Lands.

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This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project 2013!

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*Banner created by Emky of HoN!

Pagan Blog Project 2013: A

Last year I made a half-hearted attempt at taking part in the Pagan Blog Project for 2012.  I think I made it through C – five or six entries.  I was behind to start with, which curbed my enthusiasm, and then I just stopped blogging altogether.  Anyways, now that the secular year has restarted, so has the Blog Project, and this time I’d like to make a better effort to participate, if only to keep working on my writing skills.

To start, I’m going to borrow Ekunyi’s subject for the first submission for A!

A is for Arranging Sacred Space!

Having a sacred shrine for Netjer is pretty crucial in Kemetic Orthodoxy.  If you have not been divined, your sacred space should be neutral, to Netjer as a whole, or if you so choose, devoted to gods and/or goddesses that you feel are active in your life, or that you have a special affinity for.  The reason we are expected to have such a space is for a ritual called Senut, one of the main cornerstones of the faith.  Senut was designed by the Nisut (AUS), and is unique to the faith, though many of the components are derived from familiar places such as The Book of the Dead.

The ritual is meant to be performed daily, and you must be purified before entering your shrine space.  This includes taking a bath with natron salt and a little heka, and then donning clean ritual whites.  The rest of the ritual takes place before your shrine, thus the importance of creating your own sacred space.

When I initially began my beginner’s course, I was instructed to create a shrine that would be neutral and leave me open to Their influence.  While I had plenty of great statuary for such a shrine, I was nervous for the longest time about assembling one and performing Senut.  It wasn’t until my class was over that I finally pushed myself to make a shrine.  I wanted to do my RPD, but I wanted to be comfortable performing the rite before I made that next step.

I never took photos of my initial shrine because I was still at a stage where I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my private space with anyone.  I don’t think this is uncommon – shrines are not meant to be a public spectacle.  In fact, they’re supposed to be kept in a private place that is not frequented by people, even covered or closed up if possible when not in use.  It is also recommended that you do not keep your shrine in your bedroom, but for some of us (like me!) that isn’t possible with the living space that we are afforded.

So, while I do not have a photo of my initial beginner’s shrine, I do have one of my offerings from the night of my RPD that I have posted in the past.  The main things that you really need for a shrine are a light source, preferably a candle, a way to burn incense or hold oils, and cups and plates for offerings.  It’s not strictly necessary to keep these objects as part of your shrine, but you’ll want them handy, as any time you’re in shrine you should at least offer cool water, light, and scent.

RPD shrine

In my photo you can see that I have a two plates of food offerings, I believe lotus buns, mangoes, and cherries.  I also have three cups with liquid offerings, red orange juice, soda, and wine.  I have two scented candles lit, offering both light and scent, and an incense holder with some burning, as well as a vase of flowers which also provides a scent offering, as well as beautification.

The statuary is the same that I used for my “neutral” shrine.  In the top right corner is an incense holder with statues of Bast at the base.  I believe She’s been in my life for most of it, constantly appearing, and I just didn’t listen until recently.  It’s fairly common as I understand it for Bast to guide people to Netjer and the House.  In the top left corner is a statue of Aset (Isis) with her wings spread, though when in shrine at the time, I focused on the statue as representative of Ma’at, our Lady of Truth and Justice.  The cloth is a simple white linen, traditional for a Kemetic shrine, though you may use what you feel is most appropriate for your gods, especially if They make it known that They prefer something else!

You can also see a wooden scarab there, that I placed on a whim, before I knew Khepera was my Father, and before I really knew anything at all about him.  Scarabs have just always been a huge symbol of Kemet for me, and I read in a few places while I was taking my beginner’s class that they were a symbol of protection and guidance for students.

You can choose as I often do, to create separate shrine areas, or alter your space for specific Duas (festivals).  Most (probably all, but don’t quote me!) of the Names have special days that honor them, and if you wish to make a space for Them on the days that call to you the most, that is a great idea!  In the past I have created an offering space for Bast, on Her Day of Chewing Onions. I’ve posted the photo previously as well, but will stick it here for posterity’s sake.

Day of Chewing Onions for Bast

No less than four statues in Her honor, as well as my incense burner again, and a bowl of sweet red onions cooked with honey mustard.  I can’t for the life of me remember what liquids I offered though!

Once I had my RPD completed, my shrine space slowly changed as I obtained pieces meant for my Divine Family.  You still want to keep the vitals – incense, light, plates, and cups, but your statuary is where you can really get creative.

Serqet-Aset in shrine

This photo is from after I received my Serqet-Aset votive.  At this point I just moved things around, didn’t really have to remove anything.  You can also see my copy of the Prayerbook written by Hemet (AUS) that was gifted to me by a member of the House, Nityinepu.

My bowls and cups  are not currently present, but my candles are generally a stationary part of my shrine.

This next photo is from a time right after I received my Khepera votive, which I just posted about.  The photo quality is a little blurry, I apologize for that.  It’s also a bit messy because I started to run out of room for all the things I wanted to keep in shrine.  As you can see, in addition to the Khepera votive, I also have a large white lotus candle, a new set of three small offering bowls (gifted by Meket on my birthday), and a larger fourth plate with a scarab stamping (gifted by my friend Cory on my birthday).  The small coil in front of the Khepera piece is a scarab necklace that Meket gave me when I started my beginner’s class.

Khepera in shrine

Shortly after this was assembled, I had to pack it all away and we moved.  It was not until recently that I finally reassembled a makeshift neutral shrine for temporary use until I could afford to get the shelving unit that I had wanted for months as a shrine space.  I recently posted this photo in a regular entry, but will post again!

New shrine space

It’s just a simple wooden bookcase from Ikea, nothing fancy.  I wanted multiple shelves because of the way I envision my shrine space.  A space for my Father, a space for my Beloveds, a space for my Akhu, and a space for Dua offerings and for Netjer as a whole.

There are a lot of new additions here, namely the Khepera statue on the top shelf, a recent acquirement, the Khepera miniature, and the lotus painting.

Right now the space is still kind of set up from the Kemetic celebration of the Establishment of the Celestial Cow – hence the “Moomas” cards.

My shrine is still a huge work in progress, and I think it always will be.  I see new things nearly every day that I want to add to it, and of course the offerings you make keep it changing all the time.  I imagine once I get the remaining statuary that I’m fiending for it will look a lot less like a mess, but in the meantime, I’m happy with what I have.

The most important thing (in my opinion) to keep in mind when building your shrine space is to keep it true to your heart.  Your shrine be as cluttered as mine, or clean and concise.  It all depends on who you are, and Who is directing your hand during your creation.  Above all else, honor the Names and your Akhu!

This post is part of the PBP 2013

*Banner courtesy of Emky of HoN