The Return of the King

I felt completely lost when it came to the Mysteries of Wesir when I first became Kemetic. Wesir was hard for me to grasp, having quite a bit in common with the gods of the faith I had just left — died, resurrected, ruling in the place where dead people go — so maybe I steered clear of Him “accidentally-on-purpose”.

I tried to wrestle with the holiday when I was in the midst of my existential crisis. I wanted to understand it so badly. I felt like if I understood it, maybe I wouldn’t be so scared of it. I threw myself at it, and didn’t have much luck — trying to understand a god by force doesn’t work all that well, I discovered.

This year, somehow, celebrating the festival felt right for the first time. I traveled down to Virginia for a vigil ritual hosted by one of the temple’s ordained clergy, Reverend Heruakhetymose. As myself and fellow w’ab Shefytbast headed south, the landscape became more and more rural, and we noticed how the changing of the leaves mirrored the season of the death of Wesir.

The vigil itself felt like an ordeal we undertook with Wesir, standing at His side as He underwent the mysterious journey from death to life in the Duat1. Each hour, on the hour, we entered the shrine room in silence. The room was variously lit in a dim purple glow or by candle light, and I took up a drum to count the minutes until the hour struck. At the second of the hour I let the drum fall silent, and myself and fellow priests performed the ritual while the rest of those gathered offered henu. After the ritual concluded and we spent a few moments in silent contemplation, I took up the drum again, and we left as silently as we came.

And then we passed the hour until the next one.

We played games, we had snacks, we watched silly videos and talked about everything and nothing. We sat curled under blankets and watched parts of The Mummy. We shared our time and our kindness together — until our alarms chimed that it was time to prep for the next hour’s ritual, and we took up the mantle of silence for Wesir again.

By dawn, we were exhausted. Many of us had napped at least once, but we were pretty punchy. And yet, as we entered the shrine room in silence for the final ritual of resurrection, an unexpected lightness carried us onward. The gods felt… not joyful, but at peace, where the previous hours felt heavy with mourning and transformation. Wesir assumed His throne in the Duat, caring for our ancestors, and providing a home for us after our lives are done.

We made our final offerings of the day to Wesir after we had all had an opportunity to rest and sleep some. We celebrated His re-establishment to life in the Duat, we thanked Him for His sacrifice to create a home for us after death, and we thanked Him for being with us. And then — we snacked on offerings during the day. We wrapped ourselves in blankets and watched cartoons, shared stories, and laughed quite a bit. We watched a wintery storm roll in and ate leftovers. It felt like being with family. And in the end, I think that’s what He wanted: for us to be together, to honor His journey together, and to rise together after the ordeal of the vigil and come together again.

I won’t say I properly understand His mysteries now; but I will say I feel much closer to Him, and that I’m grateful for the opportunity His mysteries gave me to grow closer with my community.


Footnotes:

  1. Underworld, or afterlife, or “Unseen World”. Generally, where gods and ancestors live.

There is always love.

See to it that love continues. It is left to you to tend this work. We cannot do it for you alone. You too must serve. 

from the Year 24 Kemetic Orthodox Oracle of Aset

When I read the Oracle for this year, I was ecstatic. I am all about divine love. Love is basically the key word of my religious practice. The word ‘love’ appears more than a dozen times in the Oracle.

Love is such a big word. It encompasses so many things: friendship, family, religion, sex, partnership, enjoyment, and on and on. Love can be comforting and soothing, or so deep it causes pain. It can be so much more than four letters could ever contain. And yet – four letters contain love in its entirety.

Love is a command, it is a sensation, it is an action; in the Oracle, it is all these things. We are reminded that the gods love us — so much so that They bring us into being, suffused with this love from cradle to grave. We are commanded to act always in love — not in romantic love or friendship, but the love that recognizes that we are all children of the gods, and as such deserve respect, honesty, and dignity. We are given the power to love ourselves, to care for ourselves and our world, and reclaim our innocence.

Love is the foundation of my worship. Everything springs from love. The gods love me, so They call to me to honor Them. I love the gods, so I bring them offerings and kneel before the shrine. I learned about the term bhakti yoga (or bhakti marga) in my brief study of Hinduism, and it springs to mind every time I try to describe my religious ideology. Bhakti yoga can refer to the path to moksha, or freedom, attained by love and devotion to a god or to the Divine as a whole. The goal is to be devoted without pretense or desire for reward; to love God for the sake of loving God, and to allow oneself to become absorbed by the love that joins God and devotee.1

I sometimes describe this feeling as grace, though that word has its own Judeo-Christian connotations. There is this lightness, this breathless joy that I feel when I walk out of Their shrine drenched in Their love. It is this feeling that I try to carry with me through the world. It is this feeling that inspired the name change of this blog. This love is powerful and intoxicating. It changes everything it touches. It has certainly changed me.

We are tasked to serve love, this year. We are instructed to ensure that the love They have given us — pure, strong love — continues to move through the world with us. We are expected to share love with each other, to heal each other and support each other.

I am so ready to carry Their love.


  1. This is a way watered down summary of the concept of bhakti yoga. If you are interested in learning, you may wish to seek out someone currently practicing Hinduism who may be more deeply familiar with the concept. My study of Hinduism was purely academic.

Why all the photos of altars?

I had a bit of a run-away train of thought this afternoon while I was buying a set of lenses to enhance my iPhone photography skills. One of the brief stops was to wonder just why it is that during every Kemetic Orthodox group ritual I’ve attended, we pause to take photos of the altar — and not just one or two quick snapshots, either. There’s a good ten minute chunk of time devoted to making sure that each assemblage of candles, offerings, and images of Netjer is properly documented. We very occasionally take pictures of our fellowship before and after, and almost never take any photos during the ritual. It’s become something of a good-natured joke, now, that for every 20 photos of an altar, you’ll find one or two from the rest of the day.

I can see some sense in not taking pictures of each other relaxing and socializing. For one, not everyone is open about being Kemetic, and it can be hard to know who might be concerned about privacy and keeping their identity under wraps. For another, many people just don’t like being photographed, and don’t particularly want to be in front of the camera lens no matter how nice it would be to share photos of the event later.

I can see quite a bit of sense in not taking photos during the ritual. Taking photos during a sacred experience is distracting both to the photographer and the participants. These rituals are meant to be experienced in the moment. Even though having images to share with those who are unable to be physically present could be an asset, it would detract from the overall experience so greatly that we might lose more than we gain.

Still, I think a part of us wants to capture the closeness of community and the beauty of ritual without transgressing either of these boundaries — and what better to capture the spirit and essence of group worship than the altar around which we all gather? The ritual revolves around this focal point, and our fellowship revolves around the ritual. An altar is a carefully constructed place of devotion, and often for group worship we build it as a group. In lieu of photos of each other or of the actual ritual, therefore, we take pictures of the center point that draws us all in.

What we really seek to share, after all, is something intangible. The feeling of grace kneeling before the gods. The closeness in sharing laughter with others who believe as we do. These things can’t be captured on camera. From that perspective, why not take dozens of photos of the same altar? It is the nearest thing that can represent what we truly share when we worship together.

Music Monday: January 12th (Red Week Special Edition)

Atreyu – Honor (Metal/Hardcore)

This has always been one of my go-to tracks for thinking about Set. Not only does it have the kind of endless, driving intensity that I associate with Him, but it speaks of fighting the darkness at dawn — which is kind of His thing.

Thanks for killing the darkness, Sir. I’m very glad You are on our side.

Red Week!

Oh yes, and happy RED WEEK!

In honor of the feast of Set Killing the Rebel, the Kemetic Orthodox community is having a week long celebration of Set.

If you’ve followed my blog long enough, you know I have a complicated relationship with Himself. I haven’t always been on speaking terms with Him. Things have improved, however, so I’ll be jumping on the Red Week bandwagon as well, and hopefully making some contributions on the son of Nut.

For today, here is a link to a prayer I wrote for Set on His birthday, back in 2011: Prayer for Set.