Vocation

Blessings be upon all of those who worked to bring this meal before me.

When I was younger, and Christianity seemed like the only spiritual path going, I questioned the idea of thanking God for my food. I developed my own brand of thanks. The food did not magically appear on my plate. God didn’t cook it, or buy it, or transport it, or harvest it, or grow it. I blessed the animals that gave their lives, and the plants that grew in the soil under the care of sun and rain.  Maybe God had something to do with growing conditions, and that’s all fine and good. He’s included in the prayer too, somewhere down the line. Thanking God alone is like cutting out the middlemen, and that’s no good.

In Kemeticism, the priests bring offerings to the gods’ tables. We honor the priests for their dedication, but seeing them alone in their efforts neglects the many people behind them that make the entire thing work. A smart god would know this, and may offer a blessing like the one I wrote above. We talk about the reversion of offerings where the god accepts tribute, and then returns the offering with added value. We know the priests often dined on such meals. But is that the extent of the reversion? It would be a poor god if it was. The lines of connection are drawn all the way back to a single grain of wheat, down to a single drop of the river’s water.  All the way back to Ra, the sun. That blessing completes a circle that is upheld by many hands. That, in a nutshell, is the true strength of Kemet.

Vocation is about finding your place within that great circle. There are many hands and many roles to play. We may value one profession over another, but what would happen to our circle if one job disappeared entirely? What if it was filled by one who was not suited to it, hated it, and did their work poorly? The lines of connection would be weakened, perhaps broken. What good are our value judgements then? They distract from the reality that we need both the low and the high to succeed, to survive. The people of the land are the foundation of any great state. It cannot exist without them. The noble elite might raise their noses at the lowborn stink, but who mined their jewels? Who wove their garments? Who keeps them fed?

The circle needs you to play your role well, whatever that role may be.

Versatile Blogger Award!

versatileblogger11

My Wiccan Walk has nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award! Yay!

Quoting My Wiccan Walk’s post here:

“Here are the rules:

My nominees must now follow these instructions to formally accept their Versatile Blogger Award.

Display the Award Certificate on your blog.

Announce your win with a post. Make sure you post a link back to me as a ‘thank you’ for the nomination.

Tell 7 interesting facts about yourself.

Present 15 awards to 15 deserving bloggers.

Leave them a comment to let them know after you have linked them to a post.”

Given the slow response from the last round, I’m gonna change the rules. I’m opening up nominations to volunteers. If you would like to nominate yourself, leave a comment with a link to your entry. I see nothing wrong with self-promotion as long as it’s not annoying. And in this case, I’m asking you to, so don’t be shy!

Here’s my seven facts:

1. I’m a part-time tai chi instructor.

2. I’m happily married to a disabled army veteran.

3. I like raisins raw, but don’t cook them in anything or I will make faces at you.

4. I’m left-handed.

5. I don’t eat animals that don’t have legs. Tentacles don’t count as legs.

6. I’m not allowed to play certain video games, or attempt to repair my computer, within earshot of my daughter. (I do it anyway, but I get told about it.)

7. I’m in the middle of packing for a trip to California where I will be completely spoiled for a week.

And that postpones the V PBP post! Darn, I was looking forward to V! 😉

Urban Kemetic

The title of this blog post is redundant.

I’ve always been in favor of urban magic, urban shamanism, urban whatever. Several people on my follow list have already talked about these things. I realize that in Kemeticism, there is no real difference between urban magic and country or nature magic.

Humans and the things we create are well within the boundaries of Ma’at. You could even say that we are necessary to universal balance. We have a symbiotic give and take relationship with our deities and spirits. Living in harmony with nature doesn’t mean you have to run away from the cities, just the opposite. Cities offer a level of efficiency you can’t get from a lot of scattered and independent farms.

The trick is to not lose sight of that fact. We are facing a slow, drawn out crises of our own making. Within a century, our climate will be radically different from the one we enjoy today. We got here by not recognizing and not being responsible about our place in the natural balance of life. On the one hand, humanity is already a natural disaster. On the other hand, we’re the only species on the planet that has any hope at all of defending it from the threat of asteroids like apophis, which was conveniently named after a Kemetic world ending monster. Sure, we could go back to the seeming bliss of hunter gathering, and then all fry when our time is up. Or we could grow the frack up and take control of this two edged sword that we wield.

Ra has been looking over my shoulder when I watch sci fi movies. He tells me that when humans stand under the light of other stars, that he wants his name known there too. He wants us to continue on after this star ends. He wants to continue on too. That’s a pretty tall order. No one could accuse him of lacking ambition. In order to do that, we need our cities and our advanced civilization, and we need to actually survive long enough to make it happen. It does come down to survival as the bottom line. Kemetics are really big on that concept, none of this idly sitting by and talking about God’s will as everything burns. We are a culture of fighters.

So, we could in effect see responsible urbanism as one of the pillars of Kemetic faith. In Kemet, if you went beyond the bounds of cultured and cultivated land, you’d find yourself surrounded by sand. The interactions of life are more easily found right in the center of civilization. The balance of the river, the creatures of the river, the farms, and the temples was evident all around. The idea of running away from it all to find spirituality wasn’t really a thing. The balance of Ma’at was upheld by getting all of these things to work together. Humans were given heka to make life more livable. The same can be said for technology. Like heka, we have to use it responsibly.

Uneasy

I am a cracktastic woo-ist. My stuff is so weird it makes me cringe. There are conservative pagans and Kemetics who would absolutely call blasphemy over some of the things I do on the other side. Luckily, what happens in spiritside, stays in spiritside.  It’s not my goal to piss off the conservatives, or anyone, really. It’s not my job to please them either. I have to live with myself and my gods 24/7. I answer to Them, not to random strangers. It still makes me uneasy though.

I realize now that I have some pretty good reasons for handling my spiritual life in this way. It’s been like this for years, and it’s not likely to change any time soon. Once I get a handle on my current issues, I’m sure something else will take their places. Why? Because I’m not content sitting still. I push against those things that unnerve me for a reason. I am always learning, always expanding my boundaries.

So here’s good news and bad news for the younger spirit workers. The good news is that there is a method to the madness. Keep pushing, keep learning, and you will make progress. The bad news is that it never gets easier. There will always be something else once you scratch this one off the list.

My private journal is full of weirdness, and then whining and rationalization for the weirdness. A few friends do have access to that one, and though they haven’t said so to me, I wonder if they’re sitting on their side of the monitor and telling me to either give up the weird, or learn to deal with it. I’m sure the constant whining is not amusing to read. I am chronically uneasy about the whole thing. I have no idea how the gods put up with me either.

But they do, and most of this was their idea to begin with. They push me beyond my comfort level again and again. The result is that I’m a better person because of it. There are recurring themes here of connection and opening the heart. There is empathy, compassion, and understanding, and many lessons about how I’m the very last person who should throw any stones around. There is shadow work and light work, and some days the light work is the harder of the two.

If it starts to feel easy and controlled, does that mean I’m slacking off? If I’m not standing where I want to be, then probably so. I’m using this as a means to test myself, my inner strengths and weaknesses, and meet them head on. Not all the battles have been won, but my opponent’s face is starting to look familiar.

KRT: Threats and Bribery

Bribing and Threatening the Gods: Can you do it? If you can, how so? And is it somehow ‘blasphemous’ or ‘immoral’ to do so?

The first question that comes to mind is “With what?” What do you have to offer that’s good enough to make a god change their mind? What can you do that’s bad enough? And either way, would they be willing to encourage such behavior even if they were tempted? Would you not just continue to offer bribes and threats in an effort to manipulate them against their better judgement?

From a historical perspective, threats and bribes can be found multiple times in the coffin texts, and probably in other places too. (Despite my many claims of not being scholarly, I did get a copy of Faulkner’s Coffin Texts. I haven’t properly studied the entire thing yet because it’s huuuge.)  If they did it in ancient times, is it ok for you to do it now? Was it really ok for them to do it back then? Frankly, those passages always make me wince.

I think of the Netjeru as family, not every Kemetic does, but I do. Sometimes bribes and threats are part of family life, I do admit, but not on the level that the Texts talk about. Come to think of it, bribery works pretty well with family. My mother bribes me with dinner out for doing yardwork. My daughter has made a deal to get money for her online game. Those are friendly bribes. Threats happen too, but they tend to be mild, like no ice cream until you eat your vegetables. These threats and bribes have a basis in an already established and stable relationship. My mother would not bribe me to do something against my better judgement. I would not threaten actual serious harm to my daughter. We know that there are things that simply would not be done.

Given those examples, it appears that the morality of the question has a lot to do with degree, and with the status of the relationship that already exists. If a random stranger offered to take me to dinner for working in their yard, I would turn them down and wonder what they were thinking. Context is important. Do you only speak to the gods when you want something? Or do you have an established relationship where you just enjoy their company even when everything is fine? Do you offer to do things with no strings attached? You have to build up a bank of good will before you can start making withdrawals.

…or you can run your relationship like a credit card, always securing and paying off debt. If you do that, then they’ll probably think of you with about as much fondness as your credit card company does. I’ve heard a few pagans say that the gods are not friends. If that’s their attitude, then they’re probably right.

A familial relationship is, or should be, based on love. All negotiations are built within and constrained by that principle. Ultimately the give and take is centered around what is best for the family as a whole, not what is best for each individual separately. The game is not about “I win,” or “you win,” it’s about “we win.”

I guess what it comes down to it that yes, you could try threats or bribery, but be aware of what effect it may have on the relationship. Do you have a relationship? What kind of relationship? What kind do you want it to be? The old saying “To have a friend, you have to be a friend,” applies to deities too.

Lessons from the Netjer

I may actually be learning stuff.

I’ve been thinking about the balance between making space and groundedness. Shu showed me how to expand the mental spaces in between my various projects. I just sort of imagine them as objects, or shapes, and spread them out a little so they’re not crowding each other. But if I spread them out too far, then I feel like I’m losing energy. So then I remember Geb and bring it back to earth. There is an optimum space there, not too much or too little, like gravity holding planets and satellites together in a steady orbit. If I feel stifled, I look to Shu. If I feel like I’m drifting, I look to Geb.

I’ve recognized that my dependence on Ra is a real thing that I can’t ignore. I’ve started taking walks every morning in the bright sunshine. That’s the best way to keep winter depression at bay. Heru is glad that I’m getting some exercise in. As an added bonus, I’ve been going barefoot. The changes in stride that go along with that are beneficial for tai chi. It changes the way the foot connects with the ground, getting away from the heel strike. It reminds me to toughen up a little. I’m also reminded of my monk dream in which I decided to forgo the shoes. My daughter even started walking with me. She talks about being “hard core” and not complaining. These are lessons she very much needs to learn as she’s usually the first to complain about everything. A little bit of bribery didn’t hurt there, but it was her idea. She needs to build up her endurance for soccer since she’s not part of a regular PE program.

The project is teaching me other things too. As I learn to embrace each deity in turn, I’m also starting to look for opportunities to engage with the people I meet. I’m naturally an introvert. Lack of energy usually makes me want to hide in the hermit cave. That tendency hasn’t disappeared, but I’m feeling a little more open to spending a few minutes here or there getting in touch with the people around me. I’m starting to pay more attention to exchanges, influence, and the banking of good will. I don’t spend a whole lot of time on any one exchange, and I keep enough space to prevent myself from feeling stuck. Mostly it’s an awareness thing. I’m not overtly doing much that is different.

Ptah has shown me about patience and care in creation, something that will serve me well when I sit down to make faience. Cultivation of image is also important, and it’s not just cosmetic. Care in appearance filters though into care in other areas such as creation and maintenance. He has high standards, but he also gets good results. He did not give the impression of being “stuffy” however. He was relaxed and natural in his environment. This kind of cultivation and care should be a natural expression of your design, not a way to falsely bolster yourself. (And certainly NOT a platform to use for looking down on others. That is not a gentlemanly use of effort. Be an example, not a bludgeon.) I have a long way to go before I can live up to his example, but it gives me something to think about.

Tag, I’m It! (Liebster Award)

Fieldstones nominated me for a Liebster award. Thanks, Fieldstones!

The Liebster is really more of a chain letter meme that has been passed around for awhile, and the rules have changed over time. There are different variations floating around. First you answer the questions, then you make up new questions for your next five victims nominees. Oh well, it looks like fun. Why not?

1. Favorite book (fiction).

Pick a hard question next time…there’s so many…American Gods by Neil Gaiman would be up toward the top of that list. His Horus seems like a two-dimensional, frozen in amber, version of my Horus, and it even has thunderbirds! Though my thunderbirds, are actually thunder beings, and in terms of looks they’d probably go better in a Lovecraft novel. Not really birds at all, except to say that they have wings, and then you just have to give up because that’s as far as your mind can handle. (In other words, they’re gorgeous!) It’s no accident that crazy people hang out with them. (I met Heru/Horus and Wakinyan long before I read the book.)

Actually my favorite part was where Mr.Wednesday let loose on that poor waitress about what it’s really like to be pagan. Something about ocean waves and leopard tongues. It was very hot.

2. Favorite book (non-fiction).

Currently it’s Reading Egyptian Art by Richard H. Wilkinson. It contains detailed descriptions of the meanings of one hundred hieroglyphs commonly used in Kemetic art. I’m using it to make my own art!

3. Best way to spend a day when you have nothing else to do.

(Cut for younger viewing audiences.) …and then finish the day with home made lasagna, pecan pie, and campy movies.

…Or something like it. I’ve got a vacation scheduled at the end of the month. Yaaay!

4. Night owl, early bird or in between, and is this a good or a bad thing?

Night owl. It is cruel and unusual punishment to expect me to rise before the sun. Given no schedule at all, I’ll get on a 2am-11am sleep schedule. I haven’t done that in a long time though. I have started setting my alarm and taking a walk first thing in the morning to stave off the winter blues, reset my internal clock, and ward off insomnia. I’ve been getting up “early,” but not by most people’s definition of the word.

Sounds ironic given that I’m named after the dawn, doesn’t it? I get in touch with the energies of the sunrise while in an an altered, half-asleep, hypnopompic state. It doesn’t work if I’m wide awake and walking around.

The only bad thing about not being a morning person is that those who set schedules don’t seem to understand the concept.

5. Fate or free will or somewhere in between?

Philosophically, I believe in fate. I’ve had precognitive visions, never of anything important, in which every itty bitty detail was in place. When you think of all the randomness that goes into that kind of thing, there isn’t much room left. Fate led me to my spouse, to Kemeticism, to all kinds of strangeness. (There’s also that Kemetic true name business that has quite a bit of influence over my basic character. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I can generally guess about the theme. )

Practically speaking, I think it’s a good idea to ignore all of that and still try your best.

As the Doctor says, time is wibbly wobbly, so who knows how one ends up affecting the other?

6. Choose a superpower!

Polymorphic shape shifting. I could ask for flight, but being able to shift into a flying thing, and back, is better!

7. Are you more likely to listen to your heart or your head?

My head talks a pretty good game, but my heart usually wins.

8. What is the hardest thing to get yourself to do that you know you need to do?

Keep a daily schedule that includes exercise, eating right, house cleaning, art time, meditation, etc.

9. Do you follow news and current events? How pertinent do you feel the World is to your daily life?

I’m more likely to read the local news than world or national news. It seems more like something I can take part in and have a genuine opinion about. (With an international border just a few miles from my house, the local news isn’t boring!) I let my beloved disgruntled vet who sits in the other chair write angry letters to congress and troll Cruz’s Facebook page. He’s good at that.

10. Favorite season.

Monsoon season! That’s when the summer heat builds towering cloud castles on a daily basis. Sometimes it rains and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it rains a block away but not here.

Questions for the next round:

1. What is your quest?

2. What is your favorite color?

3. What is the airspeed velocity of a flying rodent’s tail-end? And who is not worthy of receiving such a gift?

4. Write an excerpt from the lyrics of a song that you enjoy. What does it mean to you?

5. What is your favorite bad movie?

6. What is the best, or most favorite, thing that you can cook?

7. Share a bit of fun UPG gossip about a spiritual entity. (Remember to wear rubber-soled shoes!)

8. Name a book that has influenced your current beliefs.

9. If your child self met you now, what would they have to say?

10. What’s for dessert?

The next victims nominees are…… (Unless you’ve already done this a dozen times and/or don’t feel like it.)

Jack-a-dreams

Reconstructing the Labyrinth

The Jackal’s Dance

The Magical Pen

The Silver Sun