Sometimes, when I spend time with the gods, or go to a spiritual event, or even just a fellowship with my church, I find myself trying to predict how the event will go the night before. I come up with different ideas about what might happen, and in the end, wind up with something that may or may not be possible at all. Sometimes this is okay. There’s no harm in pondering what one might see at a museum trip, or what will be on the menu at dinner. When it comes to rituals and god-time, though, it gets a little tricky.
The biggest point where my own expectations can get in my way is during rites of initiation. The RPD was my first experience with an initiatory rite outside of my Catholic upbringing, and I had all sorts of ideas about what might happen. It was excruciatingly hard to keep my mind open for the rite. I had decided that I would not go through the RPD until I was able to keep myself free from any particular expectations or desires; I needed to be able to accept the results without attachment to them. I think I did well, although I did not do perfectly – there was still some internal drama when I started to doubt whether Wepwawet would appear in my RPD. Going through Weshem-ib, and consecration as a W’ab was a little easier, since my experiences with the RPD helped me to feel less anxious about what my expectations might be. Still, since the rites are kept secret, there was a huge amount of curiousity bubbling in my mind.
I think most of all, it’s in the small moments that I get the most caught up. When I am in my shrine, I constantly catch myself looking forward to the next part of a ritual, or thinking ahead to what comes next, rather than allowing myself to stay in the moment with the gods. Sometimes I even catch myself drafting a blog post in my head; They gently remind me not to write about an experience until it is finished, and I carry on with the ritual.
It is human nature, I think, to get caught up in expectations of the future, and I struggle with that every time I go into my shrine. I want to plan, to move on, to reach the next zep tepi and hit the ground running – but sometimes, it’s more prudent to let each moment surround me and to fill the space within it fully. The last few evenings in my shrine have been focused on doing everything slowly, with great intent, to be as present in each action as I can. It’s a beautiful exercise and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants a really deep, personal experience in their shrine. 🙂
So I’ve sort of failed at the Pagan Blog Project this year. The problem is that while I love doing organized blogging projects, I immediately balk at a deadline. Knowing that I just have to blog once a week kills it for me. So I give up on the weekly Pagan Blog Project, and instead am going to finish the alphabet on my own time. 🙂
This has been a hard post to meditate on.
Last fall, late at night as I was talking to my boyfriend on the phone about growing old together, I recognized mortality for the first time, and it scared the hell out of me. The conversation was not particularly deep; he was only telling me about an elderly woman whose home he did electrical work in that day. And in that moment, I suddenly realized all the truths of humanity – that we would both get old, and one day, there’d only be one of us. That started a long and torturous existential crisis into which I still slide from time to time. I remain uncertain and full of doubt, even when I go through astonishing spiritual experiences and life-changing moments.
In the midst of that intense anxiety, a local W’ab priest celebrated a feast for Nebthet and the Akhu. The timing couldn’t have been more appropriate. Like an icy pond in the midst of a heatwave, Nebthet’s presence in that moment cooled my fears. Not completely – ice melts around a source of heat, after all – but slowly, little by little, as I spent more time with Her and the other deities of the West (Yinepu, Hethert-Amenti, Nut) I found myself calming and centering once more.
Death is not a part of life. Death is something we all face as mortal human beings, but it is the end of life, the final transformation from which no one has returned. I can never fully understand what it means to die, but I can face that eventuality with peace knowing that – even if there is nothing waiting for me – I will go to it with the love and support of the gods of the Duat.
My approach to this whole Pagan Blog Project business is basically this: I’m pagan and I’m blogging about it, therefore my posts can be about whatever aspects of my pagan life I want them to be.
Many of my fellow Kemetics are writing really thoughtful posts about different theories or philosophical subjects; me, I’d prefer to tell you about what’s going on in my shrine.
Right now I’m on a puriy hiatus, shall we say; not much is happening in shrine. This past weekend, however, I went out to Tawy House for a small celebration of Wepwawet, and even though it was very simple, it stirred up in me a sturdiness I had not felt since last November’s crisis of faith.
I felt the warmth of the love of my gods bubbling from the deepest parts of me, like a spring reopened. That peaceful reserve of strength I now carry with me. I sort of want to bring it to everyone I meet; to do everything I do as though with it came the distribution of God’s love to each and every person.
I think I still hold many of my old Christian leanings in that way. Christians are encouraged to share Christmas by being Christ-like; I want to share my gods quietly, by being full of Their blessings and by treating others with respect, with ma’at.
All of this is pooled deep inside me quietly, a well of grace to carry me.
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This week, C is for Complicated. Not as in the Facebook relationship status that confounds and depresses us when it turns up on our profile – but as in the perplexing nature of the polytheist’s relationship with the gods.
For example: obviously, as a servant of my Kemetic gods, there is some conflict of interest in going to honor other gods in ritual. When I decided I wanted to attend the ADF ritual this past weekend, there were some negotiations that needed to take place. I asked the gods for their blessing in attending, and They in turn gave me Their requirements. Yes, I could go, but couldn’t participate in certain portions of the ritual, such as the weaving of a community Brigid’s cross with intentions for spring. The logic there is pretty sound, in my opinion. So I went, and I honored Brigid, and the experience was satisfying, and my own gods were not put off.
The strangeness of relationships with the Divine is not an uncommon theme. At that same ritual, I heard many people note the complexity of their dealings with a particular god. There are many possible reasons for this: oaths made prior to a change in path, gods from other pantheons having work or a message, curiosity on the part of the individual that leads to requests for the deity… and so on.
What I think it comes down to is this. If we say there is a single God, or a single source of Divine Power, our dealings with It become much more unilateral. We know where our prayers are going, and we know where the answers are coming from. We don’t have to negotiate different agreements to navigate the different claims spirits may have on us, because there is only one Spirit with which to have any dealings. If we expand our divine power into many gods, many facets, many faces – now we are weaving a web of relationships across the Unseen world.
And when you consider it, it really is no more complicated than our dealings with one another. The difference is that we can usually clarify any confusion we run into between us and a human acquaintance verbally, and expect that our understanding will be better following a conversation. Sometimes people can be as cryptic or indefinite as the gods – and there’s about equal chance of running into both at the supermarket.