New Year and New Ways

The Pagan Blog Project is over for the year. I’m glad I finished it. At the same time, I’m glad I finished it. It was a good challenge, but I don’t think I’m going to go again next year. I’d still like to set a goal of posting at least once a week, but this time not have to scramble for certain topics. I noticed that occasionally I had ideas for things to post about, but I didn’t get around to doing them because I was trying to fill the alphabet.

I have plans for the New Year. New vows, and a new kind of practice. At the same time, it’s really just a formal acknowledgement of something I’ve been doing anyway. I have not heard of any one else doing this thing. That makes me a little nervous because I’m sure there will be those who would swear that it does not, or should not, exist. But if I don’t start talking, then it is almost like I don’t exist. That is starting to get old. I don’t need to be believed or followed or recognized. I just need to exist.

I’ve also been hesitant to write about my experiences because I don’t really want anyone to follow in my footsteps. Gods know I do everything the hard way! I regret none of it, but I’d also be the first to tell you not to do half the crazy stuff I’ve done. Lack of regret is not the same as lack of consequences. A year ago, my chi was badly depleted, enough that I secretly wondered if I would even see another year.

I’m Kemetic because the Kemetic gods wouldn’t take no for an answer. I’m not here out of any sense of historical integrity. I think there are a lot of old things that ought to stay buried. I also think there is a lot that can add value to the present. I’m not a recon. I’m not a ritualist. I’m not a historian. I do read, real books with paper pages and named authors and everything, but not with the idea of trying to recreate the past.

In truth, I am a shaman-broke half-crazy journyworkin’ energy channeler. I know how to do magic on a city-wide scale. I don’t actually recommend it, even if it was awesome. I worried over 9/11, and drug wars, and droughts, and freezes. I’ve fought battles and I’ve given myself to the spirits of the land. It wore me out. It seemed like I could never do enough no matter how much I gave of myself. I regret nothing, but it did burn out my chi. Ra has been working hard to fix that. I’m lucky. But for all that effort, there will never be any concrete way for me to know if I had any hand in the good that has come about. It still might be just my imagination. I may have done it all for nothing.

I’m semi-retired from that now. I’m still an energy channeler though. I’m just not quite as reckless about it as I used to be. I still love the rush. I’m not quite as enamored of the hangover. I’m trying to learn a better way. Slow and steady is better. (Aw crap, does this mean I’m growing up? Gods, I hope not!)

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YMMV

(This is my last PBP2013 blog post. I think I’m all caught up now. I’m surprised I kept up with it. I started last year on a whim and somehow kept them going.)

Your Mileage May Vary

In fact, it probably will. Wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same? I don’t do the same things that others do, and they don’t do the same things that I do. I still enjoy hearing about them. I like hearing what people dig up in historical reference to ancient cultures. I enjoy hearing about the rituals and seeing the artwork. I enjoy the quiet reflective moments where it feels that I can be there right with you. I enjoy hearing the questions and uncertainties, and I feel honored that you feel comfortable enough to share those things.

Where did we get this stupid notion that we should be the same? I thought the whole point of having many gods was that one size does not fit all. Even those many gods have many aspects and many time frames and manifestations. Even if we use the same names, that doesn’t mean they have to act the same in every situation. Gods are complex beings, not paper cut outs. I sometimes believe that if I make a statement about something my gods would NEVER do, that they would take great pleasure in proving me wrong. Never say never.

I often look at spirituality as being like medicine. The right medicine can heal, but the wrong medicine can act like a poison. That’s why you should only take your own prescription and not someone else’s. And what good does it do to try to discourage another from taking the medicine that they require? Are you their doctor? The correct answer is no, you’re not. Some people need more security and stability to help them feel safe in an unsafe world. Some people need to learn how to break out of their shells and take risks. Some need to learn compassion for others, and some need to learn how to start caring for themselves before they are depleted. Everyone has preexisting conditions.

This isn’t a contest. There is no prize to be won for being the most devoted, the most magical, or the most pure. The only prize is the one you get for being the most You. I believe that everyone contains a divine spark. We’re here to nurture that spark and make it shine. It doesn’t matter how you do that. There are many gods and many spirits, and there are many forms of divinity. If you’re not sure, then go ahead and try different things until you discover what works. Don’t feel bad if something doesn’t work out the way you planned. Exploration is part of the process. We are all works in progress.

Zombie (No More)

I’m speaking in the metaphorical sense here, not the practice of enslavement through poison and trickery, or of the pop culture brain eating phenomenon.

Back when I was in high school, a combination of undiagnosed SAD and high stress, that contributed to actual depression, turned me into what I’ve called a walking zombie, still in motion, but more or less dead inside. It happened every year. I knew it was coming, and I feared its creeping slow onset. Once it took over, I couldn’t feel much of anything.

I remember being called up to the teacher’s desk for yet another exasperated lecture. My instinctive warrior’s temperament told me to show no weakness. I stood, stone faced, until they got done telling me whatever they thought might work on me. My lack of reaction worked nicely against kids who only wanted a cheap form of entertainment. But the teachers took it to mean that I didn’t care at all, and that only infuriated them more. The problem with the stone face is that if you practice it too long, it starts to sink under the skin. You pretend not to feel, and eventually you find that you’re not pretending anymore.

A good portion of my spiritual life has been a reaction against those times. My interpretation of how one should interact with the divine tends to be a bit more lively, or colorful, than what you normally hear about. I joke around a lot. I use foul language. I threaten and tease. I yell and scream. I break down in tears of joy and sorrow and anger. I confess my love quite often. I’ve broken a few unnecessary taboos while I’ve been at it too.

It has been working. The shadow work, and the light work, has been paying off. I’ve been working intensely with Ra. I took risks. I trusted him. It all seemed so strange, but it worked. I feel stronger than I did at this time last year. He gave me a name a year ago, when I finally decided to open up to him, and he’s been teaching me how to embody that. The name has always been there, but it takes encouragement to bring it to the front. He reminds me of what is important and what is not. He has taught me the same lesson over and over all year long: love, relation, connection.

When I want to be proud and aloof, he brings me back to my knees. When I feel cold, he brings me warmth. When I am alone, he tells me to spend time with the family. When I yell, he tries to find out what is wrong instead of yelling back or telling me that I’m wrong. When I feel unworthy, he insists that he will be the one to make that judgement. I call him “Sir.” I hardly ever call anyone that.

I stopped running, and finally admitted that I need him in my life. I’m stronger with him than I was without him. I’m more alive now, even in the dark side of the year.

Holidays Kemetic Style (KRT)

How do we negotiate Western secular and/or popular religious holidays? Do we ignore them? Do we co-opt them? Do we have celebrations with our non-Kemetic friends/family and then hold our own celebrations, if we have any Kemetic festivals around that particular time?

In just a little while, I’m going over to my Mom’s house to celebrate Christmas. I don’t think there are going to be any actual Christians at that gathering. My Mom is agnostic who would claim to be Christian if asked, just in case. I don’t think that really counts. So, if you take Christ out of Christmas, which real Christians naturally object to, but can’t seem to stop, what is left? Like most secularized holidays, it becomes a celebration of family and feasting. We give the little one gifts because unlike the adults, she can’t just go out and buy herself what she wants. We give the adults gifts too, but we all know darn well that the kid gets more out of that tradition than we do.

I’ve been a pagan since high school, which is longer ago than you might think, and I still call it Christmas. I’ve had friends who have insisted on changing the name to Yule, but it didn’t really stick with me. I grew up with Christmas, even if I didn’t exactly grow up with Christianity. My Dad wasn’t Christian either. He was a Deist.

There are Kemetic holidays around this time of year that can be co-opted. There are Kemetic holidays at any time of year. Part of that is because different cities celebrated different ones. If you were to celebrate all of the Kemetic holidays, you’d never go to work again! The majority of us live in regions other than the Nile valley, so it would make sense for us to have our own holidays too. I’ve seen a few people co-opt Christmas for the birth of Heru-sa-Aset. The symbols sure look a lot alike, and Jesus wasn’t actually born in the winter either. The Kemetic Orthodoxy celebrates “Moomas,” or the Return of the Celestial Cow. I see the time around the solstice as being the turning of Ra’s boat. I’m seasonally affective, so this is a big deal to me. There’s no reason why you have to celebrate the same thing as everyone else, unless you want to get in on the community vibes.

I don’t see any reason to stop celebrating your local holidays either. Family and community are both very important cornerstones of Kemeticism. It’s far better to celebrate a meal with your family, or to attend an event in your city, than to light candles all by yourself. In other words, don’t get snobby about Christmas, or whatever holidays your family or community celebrates. Have fun and celebrate while you can! You can still light candles later.

Zep Tepi

“Once upon a time…”

When the world was brand new, gods and humans lived together. A lot of fun stuff happened way back then.

This time between the old year and the new is like that time. The new year is about to start, but it hasn’t yet. What will we become in this new time?

Zep tepi isn’t just “the good old days.” It’s not just “long long ago.” It still exists in the here and now, like the dream time. What do you dream about when the nights are longest?

The stories are not all in the past. There are new ones waiting to be born. We whisper to each other in the dark. Some of those whispers find a voice. Some voices carry in song and verse. Some verses find their way to paper. Some papers persist through decades and centuries. You never know which ones, so they always seem to come from the far off past.

Will your whispers find a voice this year? What stories will you tell?

Y No Post? A.K.A. Alernate Shielding Method

My mom had a partial knee replacement on Monday the 2nd. I’ve been caring for her, in the hospital and later at her home, for the past two weeks. Originally, the deal was that I would stay at her place “for a few days.” She’s doing fine, but her estimate was on the optimistic side.

She has no internet at her house and I’m often reminded of why I don’t have cable TV. I’m sick of Michael Bolton (No offense, but having him randomly appear in the back of my car would be creepy.) and hijacked background Christmas music that changes the notes just enough to not get sued. (Yeah, I like that song from Nightmare Before Christmas too, but I don’t like how you mangled it.) I don’t want to buy a car or jewelry, or sue anyone for injury. I can’t imagine paying so much a month to have endless reality shows, reruns and commercials piped into my house. My brain is going to start melting out of my ears before this is over. /endrant

The hospital thing reminds me that there is something halfway pagany that I could talk about.

I’m empathic. I have been since high school. I have a few friends who are too. Sitting for hours in a waiting room full of nervous and ill people, or in hospital room with a family member who is nauseous and in pain would be a nightmare for any of them. I’ve had bad experiences with that kind of thing before, which is why I could never go into nursing as my mother did.

This time, I got through it with very few problems because I changed the way I thought about shielding. Most of the time, people talk about shielding as a way to keep bad stuff out. I flipped the concept to keep myself “in.” Whenever I started feeling a little off, I visualized something like a strip of athletic tape being placed on my skin in accordance to which ever energy channel was causing the problem. The “athletic tape” restricts my movement, not so much that I can’t move, but enough to remind me to keep myself to myself. That worked pretty well.

When my mom was delayed while being transferred from recovery to her private room, I was tempted to reach out and try to get some info on her status. That was when Djehuty threatened to get the duct tape, and the honey, and the ants. I called him a perv, because I learned my manners from a Thunder Being. The point was still taken. Why make myself feel ill when there really wasn’t anything that I could do about it?

My energy body is much larger and more diffuse than my physical body. I’m in the habit of expanding outwards to get in touch with my surroundings. I don’t even notice that I’m doing it most of the time. Then, a few years ago, I strained too hard and was ordered to take a rest for a few days, no reaching out allowed at all. It drove me nuts.

So, if you’re an empath who has difficulty with shielding. The problem might just be that you can’t keep yourself to yourself. The tape worked as a good temporary fix for limited time use. I wouldn’t want to be on lock down all the time. With conventional shielding methods, I often felt like I couldn’t “breathe.” This is a more gentle method that, while it was a little restrictive, didn’t feel suffocating.