Hapi

“Water is patient. It can wait. I cradled you in the womb. I carried your father’s seed. I am the river of your blood and the soft tissue of your body. Your beloved, Sobek, brings offerings to me. Your father, Wesir, offered to me too. When you bathe, a part of you flows back to me. This is your offering.”

(This might make me think twice about what I carelessly pour down the drain.)

 

 

Seasonally Affective

(Oops, this is my third S. Ok, I owe you a T.)

I don’t do the seasons. The seasons do me.

I’ve had a major case of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) for as long as I can remember. I didn’t always know it was called that, or what it really meant. I believe it was the main reason why I had trouble in school from first grade all the way until I graduated from high school. The time when the school year charged ahead at full speed was the same time of year that I became a walking zombie. Nobody ever put those two things together because it just looked like stress and burnout as the year progressed. I’d start to wake up again in the spring, but by then it was often too late to pull my grades out of the crapper.

I’ve gotten more used to it since then, so I often leave off the “disorder” part when discussing it. I’m still very “affective” though. One of the reasons I started keeping an online journal a few years ago was because the dates are added automatically. My symptoms get far more specific than the simple idea of depressed winters and manic springs.

I don’t exactly celebrate the Wheel of the Year. I’m sort of chained to it. I channel my excess energy into the city, and the land it depends upon, at the usual times. The effort tends to exhaust me for a few days afterward, but it’s a welcome release from the build up. I just completed one of those. Ra was helpful in keeping me from crashing quite as hard as I usually do afterward.

Around Samhain, I’ll probably take a fun little trip to the underworld and say “Hi” to Wesir and Nebt-het. I remember wanting to crack some joke to make the Lady smile, but no words would come out. Such is death, I suppose. You might wonder why I’m mixing temperate climate holidays with an equatorial religion. It’s because I don’t live on the equator. There are times when I wish that I did. I’m already living on the southern border of the country. You couldn’t pay me enough to make me move north again.

Winter is a quiet time. Spiritually, there’s no real active work going on. I might do some quiet meditation, or turn my gaze toward more ethereal aspects and not as much earthly ones. I spend time catching up on my reading. The solstice often passes with not much more than a sigh of relief that I made it through the dark time.

The first scent of spring often shows up in late January or early February. The mustard weeds start to grow in all the lawns. They’re pretty much the only fresh green around. I live in the south, so the weather is already starting to get nicer. My energy gradually starts to ramp up.

As the spring equinox gets closer, I start to sympathize with the old saying “mad as a March hare.” Six years ago, this was the time of year when Ra’s energy overwhelmed me. It would slowly heat up as the sun rose every morning until it became unbearable. These days I still feel it, but it’s not as intense. Maybe I’ve gotten used to it. I can feel the sunrise at any time of year now, but it’s strongest in the spring. (This is probably why my gods named me after the dawn.) I’ve learned to use chi gong, relaxation techniques and music to try to stay at least somewhat grounded. I still have a few bad days where I feel like I’m crawling out of my skin, but I’ve gotten much better at managing it. This is also the “season of brown winds,” as we get a few dust storms. I give Set my regards in between fits of coughing and sneezing and swearing.

It starts to level off about halfway through May. Then it’s smooth sailing all through the summer months. Walking outside in June feels like an oven around here, but I’m used to it. Monsoon season starts around the end of June. You can just round it off and call it Solstice if you want. I greet the return of the Thunderbirds often with dance, or just some hellos shouted into the wind. When I was with Wakinyan, I had a hard time sitting still when the storms rolled through. I took lots of walks while listening to loud music, dodging rain drops, and hoping not to get struck by lightning. During monsoon, there are lots of storm clouds, but they always seem to be raining somewhere else. You can watch it pour across the street and not get a drop yourself. To this day, if I start acting like a pest around the house, my spouse asks if it’s storming somewhere.

This past year I went through a death and renewal cycle at Wep Ronpet in early August. I think last year, I shut down spiritually at that time too. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to get any celebrating done when that happens. In the old days, they’d close up shop and tread carefully on those days of chaos too, so maybe I am doing it right.

Then it’s Fall again. The air feels different. There’s a metallic feel to it that reacts badly with my energy. In September I get irritable, like PMS on a yearly scale. I get itchy and feel like I need to “shed my skin” to feel better. That brings us back full circle. After doing my blessing/blasting of the land I get to relax again. That was just yesterday. Give me a few days to catch my breath, then I’ll be ready to settle in for the dark half of the year.

Stone and Fire

Devo posted about being broken in order to let the god stuff in.

Mine was a long slow creep, dying by inches over years. It was a low grade daily torment that I believed I could not escape. I have an idea what caused it now, but back then, I had no clue. It was just how life was. I would show the enemy no weakness. I put on the stone face. My ability to feel also turned to stone. My “enemies,” concerned teachers who were mostly just trying to do their jobs, pushed even harder to get through to me. By the time I graduated, I was completely burned out at a time when I should have been revving to go. My grand ambition was to find a mountain somewhere and sit on it. I’d had enough of the mix of praise and shame that battered me from both sides and seemed false on either end.

I kept walking because I had nothing better to do. I kept pace with the people closest to me, but I had no real volition of my own.

Then Wakinyan, the Thunder Being, found me. It took a couple years before I gave in to its stalker ways, but finally I realized I was being stalked for a reason. I gave in about the time I realized that the very worst thing that could happen to me was nothing. Anything, even the madness that Waki promised, was better than the continued nothing of my life.  I told him that I would not run.

Wakinyan gave me pain. He taught me to yell and to fight. She taught me to embrace all things and all people equally. I embraced my enemies and fought with my friends and realized that there wasn’t a huge difference between them. She taught me to take joy in all of these things. He taught me to scream in pain, and pleasure, and passion, and rage, and joy. They taught me to live again.

Eventually the day came when he tricked me into killing my self. I killed her in the most horribly brutal way possible. She was the one who wanted to die. I gave her what she wanted. I remember sitting on a rock, sharing the cheapest, nastiest cigarette Waki could find, as we watched her body sink into the ground. It was over. I wasn’t sure if we were celebrating or mourning. It was both.

Ra came looking for me next. He hit even harder than Waki ever did. Lightning strikes where the path is open. The sun does not discriminate. It burns everything. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. I wanted to die again. I grew afraid again. I thought I’d lost everything Waki taught me. “The Thunder Being made you strong enough to receive my gift,” Ra said. I had a hard time swallowing the word “gift.”

Six years later, and I finally feel like I’m getting back on my feet. I realize that sun and storm are both part of who I am. I am lightning and fire. I am passion and purity. Netjer brought me here, practically against my will. What about it was so important that it had to be that way?

I’m here, so now what? I’m at the edges, and on the edges I will probably stay. The gods are full of fire and passion and blood and tears, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at the Kemetic community. Where is the life behind the stone faces? Why bring me here, to this place where I will always feel like an awkward outsider?

Simplicity

There are a lot of shiny paths to pursue when it comes to religion and spirituality. There are many things that people within your own tradition will say that you should do. There are many things you may like to do. Eventually you have to face the fact that you can’t do everything and also do it well. There comes a point when you have to look admiringly at what someone else is doing, and then let it go, because your plate is already full.

It is better to do a few things well than it is to do many things badly.

Earlier this summer I had a dream that I was on a quest with a group of people. The quest was long and very dangerous. There was no guarantee of success or even survival. We stopped to rest on a trail on the side of a snowy mountain. I took the time to look at what I brought with me. There were a lot of wooden practice swords in my pack. Where I was going, I would need a real sword, and all the false swords would only slow me down. I decided to leave them behind. I shaved my head and changed my clothes. I put down as much as possible to lighten the load, including my shoes. One of the things I did bring was a large book, which was essential despite the great weight. I transformed myself into a warrior monk. At first, I worried about how my bare feet would fare in the snow, but it worked much better than expected. The lack of shoes improved my balance when we crossed over tricky rocks.

The idea of becoming a monk has always appealed to me. For some reason, I never really allow myself the freedom to drop the unessential. I feel like I have to carry it all, just in case. It is a recurring problem. I had this dream about the time that Sobek stuck me in the river, to teach me to let go. Now I feel that I’m doing it again. Maybe I’ll never learn.

What false swords are in my pack this time? Are these shoes protecting my feet, or interfering with my balance? And what is worth carrying despite the heavy cost?

Setting Up a Business

Wall relief Kom Ombo13

“May we have income and business, because the Son, the Falcon, lives here.” -Heka to Heru-sa-Aset for good business, The Ancient Egyptian Prayerbook by Tamara L. Siuda

Kemeticism is not one of those religions that believes it is somehow wrong to pray for prosperity. Thank the gods for that! It is not selfish to want to support yourself, to take care of your family, or to want to have a few extra bucks left over to buy gifts for friends. You cannot give what you don’t already have. Right now, I don’t have a lot, and it’s well past time to change that. I’m not going to sit back and think happy thoughts, hoping that the Universe will provide. I’m going to set it up right and do the work. I’m going to dot the i’s and cross the T’s, getting the legal side taken care of. A Kemetic must give Ma’at her due.

That’s actually what I was out doing today. I went downtown to get my business name registered. I’m now officially Brilliant River. After that, I filled out the sales tax form and faxed it in. In two to three weeks, when the permit arrives, I’ll finally be able to list on Etsy, under that same name. Check it out! The faience looks much better now than when I started. (See Kiln! and Kiln Update for comparison. Persistence pays off!)

Lotusbeads There’s still a lot to do before I officially open. I need to stock up on ankhs and Isis knots and protection amulets. I need more Eyes too! I’m excited. This will be fun!

Anyway, that’s why S is a little late. I’ve been running around, wearing myself out, trying to get things going. If this kind of thing interests you, you can check on my progress at BrilliantRiver, which is the WordPress blog for the business. I promise I won’t keep spamming you about it here.

If you are interested in starting your own business, make sure you know what the laws are in your area. I set up an appointment with a mentor from SCORE. I highly recommend them to anyone living in the States. They are a group of retired business people who are happy to advise you, for free, about how to set up your own business, no matter what the size. You might also want to look into the SBA, though they seem more geared toward helping you get a small business loan, which can also be useful. Etsy has a long list of helpful videos for starting a home craft business like mine. (If you’re on Etsy, do watch them. Don’t be one of those people who forgets to do the math and ends up making less than minimum wage!)

Don’t be intimidated. There’s a lot of help out there. Technology has made the numbers much simpler with tax and accounting programs and online services. If it still sounds scary, remember, you don’t have to quit your day job yet. The internet makes it easy to start one or more inexpensive side projects just to see how they go. (Don’t fall for anything that shows up in your spam folder! I shouldn’t have to tell anyone that.) It’s probably easier to get started now than it ever has been before.

KRT: Mythology

Mythology: How necessary is it? Does it affect your practice? Should it?

I think mythology is very important. It is the framework that shows what the gods are like in action. It establishes patterns, and those patterns are often referenced in ritual and spellwork. For example, there are many instances in the Coffin Texts that use mythic parallels. As Heru saved his father, may he also save this person who has also died. As Thoth defeated the enemies of Ra, may he also defeat my enemies. Sometimes the spell work goes a step further where the speaker claims to be a deity who is taking a specific action mentioned in myth, something like saying “You scary thing can’t hurt me because I am Shu and all gods tremble before me!” These are all paraphrased, of course. The texts are full of many variations on those themes. It helps to know enough about the myths to get an understanding of what they’re referring to in the spells.

Besides all that, myths are fun. They’re stories. They’re entertainment. The common people probably didn’t have much involvement with actual spellwork or ritual. If they needed something like that, to treat an ailment, for example, they would go to a professional. The myths, on the other hand, were much more accessible. They were told and retold countless times. Variations did crop up from one city to another, or from one century to another, but they still maintained the basic character of of the deities who took part in them.

The myths show us that our gods are fallible, which I think is an important thing to know. It shows how they overcome adversity and restore Ma’at. It makes Them relatable to us. We’re not perfect either. We face problems too, and we can also work to restore Ma’at in our own lives. Different deities approach their problems in different ways. This shows us that there is more than one way to approach a situation. Do you use reason? Brute force? Trickery? Flattery? If the first thing doesn’t work, do you come back and try again?

Sometimes the stories do seem a bit overblown and ridiculous. That’s a good way to get us to remember them! You might think that you’d never send out a dangerous animal (a Lion Goddess!) to devour all humans, but wouldn’t that be a good lesson for anyone to not get carried away when things go wrong? Those enemies of yours are people too, and maybe you shouldn’t just try to wipe them off the map. Maybe you need to think about what you start, because it might not be so easy to put a stop to it once it gets going.

Mythology is not so much about my “practice,” it’s more about my life. How can I apply the things that went on in myth to what is going on now? Do I give up when adversity strikes? Or do I keep trying different ways to achieve my goal? What do I need to do to restore Ma’at in my life?