Momma Aset

“You are insane, my son. I’ve always known that,” she told me.

It was a relief to hear her say so. I waste so much effort pretending not to be, especially to myself. “It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an I.” I don’t know where that quote originated, but I’ve seen it floating around and it always seems relevant.

My “I” is not very strong. Maybe that’s not completely true. When I complained about being weak, she argued. Afterall, I am still here. I just have other, stronger priorities. When I open my heart to discover what it really wants, I find the Netjer, ALL of Them. It is a love that is too big for my body. It is too big for my “I.” I inhale Ra’s fire and I want to bring that warmth to all of them. Then I ask, “What’s that burning smell? Oh, right, it’s me.” Aset cools me. She cares more about my “I” than I do. I cannot and do not want to live without them. Somewhere in my soul is a memory of that nightmare when they faded from sight. Die for them? Kill for them? Whore myself out? Why not?

But Aset says no. At least, not that first one.

Back in college I had a dream where I was at a party. We were celebrating Gandhi’s enlightenment and ascension. I found him sitting alone on a blanket and he looked sad. I asked him what was wrong. He said, “My mother won’t let me die.” No ascension for you then. I understood how he felt. There was the story of Aset and baby Heru when he was poisoned. She stopped the sun in the sky to make him live. I imagined Horus in those later years watching his family fade away and secretly hating her for the magic that would not allow him to join them. “My mother commanded me to live,” he told me.

But they’re not gone. I can feel them. This new seedling is small, and I don’t know if it will live, but that is how all seedlings begin. It seems healthy and that gives me hope.

Aset loves me in the same way that I love Them. Years ago, I prayed to a winged blue goddess. Part of me knew it looked like her. Part of me wasn’t willing to admit the connection, so I called her by a made up name. I kneeled before her with my fist over my heart. I told her everything. When nothing else in my life made sense, I knew that the blue goddess loved me.

When the sunlight burns too hot, she cools me. Ra is the crown and Aset is the throne. I am not myself without either of them. She asked me to wear her pendant so she could keep me cool. The necklace broke a few weeks ago. I replaced it with another one with a falcon head. Wasn’t it time for my own god to take care of me? Wasn’t it time for me to take care of myself? Meanwhile, my energy started running wild again. Sunrise felt like torture in a way that it hadn’t in a while. I’m wearing Aset’s pendant now. I thought I could handle it on my own. I tried covering my heart, denying it. I wanted to pretend that “I” was strong enough. But, I’m not. I still need her. She lets me follow my heart. She helps me handle Ra’s fire without tearing myself apart.

So Mom, what do you think? Can we do this? Will you show me how to breathe fire without tearing myself apart? Can we keep them warm?

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Netjeri

I’m a little late this time. The Fourth of July and related fun delayed me a bit. I wanted to do a normal subject, like Names. Maybe I’ll do that one next week. This is the one that keeps coming up in my thoughts. I guess it wants to be told. Yes, it’s full of crack, woo, fluff, etc. You’ve been warned. If you don’t believe or agree with me, that’s fine. That is your right.

It is said that the Nisut, the Pharaoh, is the Living Heru, one who has the Kingly Ka. The Kingly Ka is said to contain the memory-impressions of former kings. That is not what I have. I haven’t made a huge secret about being otherkin, but I haven’t talked about it much on here either. My memory-impressions are not human, other than that they are being experienced and interpreted by a human mind at this time. This most likely colors them. I take them more as symbolic truth than as literal truth. They serve as a starting point for the contemplation of Netjer and netjeri.

Netjeri are usually equated with kemetic spirits, djinn, genus locii and others. It’s a pretty broad term. It can even refer to animal spirits, basically any noncorporeal being that is not human or god. The gods are capable of having a piece split off, either deliberately to make a servitor, or accidentally through trauma. That piece goes on living its own life as a netjeri. The line between netjeri and Netjer can get a little blurry in that area. Sometimes Kemetics talk about a netjeri that lives in a god’s statue that looks and talks much the same way that the god would. There can be thousands of these running around.

I remember a time before I had a form, a time before I had purpose. All my siblings were with me. We didn’t have names, because we didn’t need them. There was nothing to distinguish one from another, and no reason to do so. We flowed together, like in a cloud. It was difficult or impossible to tell where one left off and another began. It was peaceful. The absolute feeling of family and togetherness is difficult to describe. It was the time before separation. Part of me misses it, but the price of going back is the loss of everything I have now. I’m not ready to do that, yet. Another century? Ten? A thousand centuries? Maybe then. We’ll see, but not yet.

The Nun actually wasn’t a bad place to be. They describe it as the primordial waters, a vast ocean. I called it a cloud, but I can see the ocean thing too. It was very fluid with no real sense of up or down. They say it was dark. I tend to picture it as sky blue, but then, I like blue. I might describe it more like Nirvana. They say the gods were inert. Inert is not quite the same thing as dead. I definitely felt alive. You might ask if I would get bored when there’s nothing to do. The answer is no. The human mind is always a little bit unstable. It seeks stimulation to right itself in an ongoing battle. I was at peace there. There was no need to look for something to do just for the sake of doing something.

They say that Shu kicked it all off. He stirred the creator into motion. Shu is a god of separation. He separates the earth from the sky. I’m not sure he realized what he was getting everyone into. I imagine it as if he was saying, “Hey, look what I can do!” We were all a lot more innocent then.

I remember tearing across a battlefield like a horrifying force of nature. The Song flowed through my entire being. My Dance was perfection itself. Any who came near me, fell to my blade. No one could stop me or slow me down. Except…it started to dawn on me that those who stood before me were my own family. I couldn’t stop. The Song was too loud, but the discord of that realization slowed my movements. Finally, someone did stop me. I was glad that they did, but I was never quite the same after that.

Was this Heru-wer’s battle? Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know why I was fighting, or how it turned out to be against my own people. I was definitely not in a normal state of consciousness.  Athletes and martial artists refer to it as being “in the zone.” It was like that, times a thousand. I was barely aware of anything beyond the dance itself. I know how dangerous “He Who Has No Eyes” can be. I feel sympathy for Sekhmet and her rampage. That doesn’t make it any less terrible, but I see how it could happen.

I remember standing guard in an unremarkable hallway in a divine palace. This time the Song was about doing exactly what I was made to do. I was so proud of my job that I glowed. I could have been standing there for five minutes, or for five thousand years. It would have made no difference to me. If someone who didn’t belong tried to walk through there, I would have shredded them with the exact same sense of pride. The goddess who owned the palace came to see me. Out of the hundreds of guards who were exactly the same, she came to see me! I knew I would do anything she asked without hesitation or question, and I did.

This last one seems more netjeri than Netjer. I knew there were hundreds of other guards in the palace. I couldn’t see them, but I could feel them through the Song. Again, time made no difference to me. I had no idea that violence might be a bad thing. No one ever told me that. I was as happy to see the goddess as a dog feels when its owner comes home from work. I was a simple being back then. Which goddess was it? I’m not entirely sure. I suspect Ma’at. I’m not sure who else would get that kind of starstruck reaction from me.

There was one more. It wasn’t exactly my memory. I did something like a soul-retrieval and ended up with another soul-fragment living with me. Part of the time he had the feel of someone just waking up from a nightmare, a little bit panicked and full of shock. Other times he felt very sensory-starved. He craved music, good food, dance, anything he could get. I asked Djehuty why he was like that. I felt as if my skin were turning to stone and I could feel him panicking in the back of my mind.

I believe he had been a statue netjeri who was abandoned. I know wars and disasters happen, but abandoning an open statue is a bad thing. They need to be decommissioned properly. The smaller ones aren’t much more than a spark, but the larger ones can persist in the darkness. Caring for an open statue is a real responsibility not to be entered lightly.  Treat the netjeri with the same respect that you would the god itself.

KRT: How did I get here?

How did you get started in Kemeticism? Tips? Stories?

My first reaction to this prompt is, “Dear gods, I don’t want to tell that story again!”

Short version is that Sekhmet showed up in a vision and I promptly ignored her and avoided all things Egyptian like the plague for years. What do you expect from Sekhmet? Her message was not a gentle one. Ra decided later that that kind of behavior simply wouldn’t stand, and he got involved. I reluctantly began to acknowledge Their existence and influence, but I was still the stubborn horse. They couldn’t make me drink.

Fast forward to the dream. I guess that’s where my formal interest in Kemeticism started.

I was in an old hotel room in a foreign country. I thought it looked like Mexico. The paint was an odd turquoise color that was cracked and peeling in a few places. I stood at the window with my cab driver. He looked tanned and athletic, with short greying hair. He brought my attention to the square out the window, with the park across the street, the shops and the street vendors outside. He especially wanted me to see the Egyptian trinkets they had for sale, the Eye of Horus necklaces and a bust of Nefertiti in the shop. I wondered why he thought I’d be interested in that cheap tourist trash, and yet, there was something I really wanted to tell him, but I couldn’t find the words.

The next morning, I had a change of heart. I thought that maybe one Horus statue couldn’t hurt. I even had an image of one I’d like to have, hand carved from some grey marbled stone, about six or seven inches high. I haven’t actually seen one like that. I looked. Anyway, I realized that some of my previous aversions had let up a little. I found the Kemetic Orthodoxy online, and, here I am. (I’m fairly sure now that the cab driver was Wepwawet, who “opened the way” for this change.)

Unfortunately, not even the gods own “magic wands.” Not even Wepwawet could make old habits disappear completely. My aversions and resistances still crop up. It takes more “spoons” than it should to participate on the forums, or chats. Research sometimes makes me feel ill. Instead of making me feel close to the gods and being a safe relaxing space, I struggle with shrine time, as it only seems to emphasize our separation. I tend to stick to journeywork, random hellos, and the odd project or hobby, but I do those every day. Kemeticism isn’t something I do. It’s something I breathe.

My advice? Join a group, or don’t. Follow the advice, or don’t. Give it a fair try and see if it works. If it doesn’t then keep trying until you find what does work. I can’t really tell you how your practice is supposed to look. No one can. If They want you, it’s usually better to play along than to stick your fingers in your ears and pretend not to hear. There’s only so much of that They will tolerate.

Kemetic

So, what does it mean to be Kemetic? I’m sure there are varying opinions on that topic, but basically we’re the folks who have made Ancient Egypt part of our spiritual lives. I’m trying to stick to general, and hopefully noncontroversial information, but if something doesn’t seem right, or if you think something needs clarification, go ahead and leave a comment so that the readers can see what other views are out there. I’m not a scholar. I’m just someone who the gods dragged in.

A Kemetic may follow the deities of Ancient Egypt in one way or another. The names of the Names can get confusing here. Most of the names you probably learned in school are the Greek versions. Heru became Horus, and Aset became Isis, but Sekhmet is still Sekhmet. So what are the real names? That can vary depending on who you ask. I go with the spellings used in the Kemetic Orthodoxy, because those are the ones that I’ve learned. I’ve seen other variations used here and there, and I still know who they’re talking about without blinking an eye. I know that Anubis is Yinepu is Anpu, for example. Why all the variation? The ancients had this thing about not writing down all the vowels, so a best guess is simply a best guess. There is also a huge time span to look at and a lot of geography for ancient people to cover. That results in changes to the language itself. Not to worry though. It is generally understood that the names the humans know are not the gods’ true names anyway. They still answer to the various nicknames that they’ve accumulated over the years, no matter how badly we may be pronouncing them now.

One thing you notice right away is that the gods are not human. They can appear human. They can appear animal. They can be somewhere in between. Do my divined fathers literally have falcon heads and human bodies? No, I don’t believe so, unless they just decide that’s what they want to look like on that particular day. Animals are an easy shorthand to remind us that our gods are beyond human. They are something other. They can look like us and talk like us, but only because they choose to do so. Your interpretation of “beyond human” may vary. If the animal thing wasn’t enough, the gods also aspect and syncretize. Sometimes they blend together. Sometimes one may change into another, or simply take up another’s role under a different name. The variations can give you headaches at times. Kemetic gods are very difficult to pin down. It reminds us to be a little cautious in case we start getting too comfortable in thinking we know everything there is to know about Them.

Another thing that Kemetics all seem to have in common is ma’at, the concept, and Ma’at, the goddess. There are different ways of describing ma’at. Most non Kemetics may recognize her as the feather on the scales that is weighed against a human heart in the afterlife. She is most recognizably a symbol of justice, and the scales are still a symbol of justice in our courtrooms today. We do have that weighing of the heart thing going on. We do know that someday we will have to answer for the way that we have lived. Some pagans may rail against the similarities to Christianity, but hey, the Kemetics were there first. But there’s more to ma’at than simply “justice.” It is also the balance that keeps life, and the universe itself, running smoothly. Ma’at can range from societal laws, to the laws of instinct and survival, to the actual physical laws of the universe. We can’t really go through life without breaking some of these here or there. We’re not perfect. Ma’at is more concerned with the overall balance that evens the scales over time, action and reaction, cause and effect. Maybe even karma, in the various meanings of the word.

And then there’s the opposite of ma’at, Apep. Every morning at dawn, the giant serpent tries to devour the sun. The forces of existence and nonexistence are perpetually at war. We have no end of the world thing to “look forward to.” Our “end of the world” threatens every single day, and every single day, our gods fight to keep us all going. We have no talk of the End Times, or Final Judgement. My gods’ response to end of the world talk? “Not on MY watch!” The end of the world isn’t a glorious thing. It isn’t a game. It is something to be fought every day and forever. I don’t know about other Kemetics, but I don’t make jokes about nuking anyone, ever.

Then there are the principles of family and community. The gods are all family to each other. Egypt, or Kemet, was one of the first great civilizations, sporting a centralized government. It may be hard to come to terms with those ideas in the current situation where Kemetics often live many miles apart. Many of us are converts who do not have family backing in our spiritual pursuits. Still, the themes of community and family, including departed family members, come up repeatedly in our texts. It is a big deal. It is something we must strive toward as being a manifestation of ma’at. We are stronger when we work together. We can build wonders.

Reemergence

I do not think of myself as a reconstructionist. I’m not really a builder. I do not cut and reassemble inanimate parts to make structures. There are some great architects and builders around. I’m just not one of them. Kemet is more than buildings and forms. I’m not sure it can be reconstructed.

Then there’s revivalist. In theory, that word sounds a little better, as it concerns itself with the essence of life. It still doesn’t sound quite right to me though. I think of a patient being brought back from the brink of death. Death is not my thing, really. The patient I see implied by this is already dead. We can’t revive Her. Only by accepting that, am I able to mourn Her in a proper way and release Her to the Shining Ones. Kemet isn’t coming back, at least, not the way She once was.

Tonight, in the dark, when I should have been sleeping, I found another R word, reemergence. It doesn’t really sound like a replacement for those other R’s. Slapping an “ist” onto the end sounds awkward. Maybe I’m not an “ist” either. Maybe the problem is that this word describes something from the other side. I’m not the one doing it. It’s just something that appears to be happening, and that is the thing that brought me here.

The Netjeru are waking up from their long slumber. Some have rested peacefully, practically unaware of the passing of years. Others have slept fitfully, not quite settling down. Heru slept with one eye open upon the world. In diminished form, He stayed with those who mistook His gesture as a call for silence. But He is not a god of silence. Heru, son of Aset, learned the power of words from His mother. “Reemergence” is the word He’s saying now. Now the Netjeru speak their words of power to those whose hearts can hear Them.