Returning Home.

My bag is packed and safely in the hands of airline attendants. Fellowship was had, the rites were performed; the year of Heru-sa-Aset begins. As I sit at the gate waiting for my flight home from the annual Wep Ronpet celebrations, I can feel both pangs of loss and waves of joy. Loss, because some of the dearest people to my heart will once again, for all too long, be reachable only though the Internet or by phone; joy, because I have been blessed with a week spent in fellowship with all of them.

Every year I return more invigorated, renewed in my desire to serve the Netjeru and Their people. I refocus myself. It’s almost like recalibrating my navigational systems. I adjust in small, sometimes imperceptible ways, realigning myself with the path I am taking.

It’s just about time to board, but I have much and more to say here. I just wanted to leave my note here, while the feelings are still fresh.

Back to Normal.

Life continues to slowly return back to normal. I re-opened my State shrine on Sunday. I am still only working a part-time priest’s schedule, as I ease myself back into normal life.

Having been away for so long, I expected I would have forgotten how to do the Rite; I expected I would have been awkward, stumbling through the ritual haltingly, like it was my first time. I was surprised to find tht it was as though I hadn’t spent a day away — much less more than half a year. There were some things that were more clumsy than they had been, but I suspect that had more to do with the changes I made to the shrine in reopening it.

As a gift to the gods, in gratitude for the ability to serve them, I was able to get Them the Icons they have been wanting to use; I also commissioned a pair of paintings for Them. I am absolutely thrilled with the paintings, and so are They. The paintings were done by another Kemetic Orthodox Shemsu, whose work can be found at her Etsy shop, Fall to Earth.

Paintings of Wepwawet and Sekhmet-Mut, and the Artisan's Guild statue of Wepwawet-Yinepu.
Paintings of Wepwawet and Sekhmet-Mut, and the Artisan’s Guild statue of Wepwawet-Yinepu.

 

Part of me feels guilty only returning part-time; the other part knows that I would burn out way too fast if I dove right back in. I worked my way up to a daily rite when I first applied to the priesthood. I started with weekly Senut, and eventually shifted to daily Senut, in preparation for the daily Rite. So I pace myself. I look forward to sharing more of my experiences here, as I have them with the gods.

And what was Their reaction to my return? It was quieter than I expected. We spent time together, and the candlelight was brighter than I remember. And that was good.

What I am thinking about today.

It is sort of astounding how we can dive into one spiritual endeavor and find that the work that needs doing and the changes that need making are so wildly different from what we expected. I find myself surprised – not unpleasantly – by some of the choices and decisions I am presented with right now. Nothing bad or painful, thankfully – but choices nonetheless. Is who I am now effective for what I am about to undertake? How can I become more effective? How appropriate is my identity at this time? Can I refine myself to a more balanced place, a state more in Ma’at?

Cryptic thoughts for a Tuesday morning.

Back in the Swing of Things.

When I became a priest nearly two years ago, I didn’t think much about how my interaction with the Unseen world would change. Mostly, that was because I wasn’t concentrating on the Unseen world. I knew what it was, but I didn’t stick my nose in it much. This had become the norm for me, after years of slowly abandoning a practice of what many would call “good spiritual hygiene”: regular grounding, centering, and psychic shielding. At the outset of my investigation into Kemetic Orthodoxy, I decided to abandon such things. There was no mention of psychic shielding in antiquity, so how could it possibly be useful to me?

Fast forward to this fall. I am pushed to take a few steps back from my work with the gods due to family illness and personal reasons. I don’t feel any different, save for feeling guilty that I can’t uphold my duties. I slowly spend less and less time on anything spiritual, doing only the bare minimum needed to get my work done – until one day in February, when I walked into a local woo-shop and found myself informed that I needed to work on grounding and shielding myself. Well.

Following that, I found myself moving back in a direction of spiritual hygiene. I started to practice regular grounding. I kept a check on my Unseen self. I made my way to my shrine more often, doing more and more work with the gods (though not without potholes and pitfalls!) – until this month, when I finally made my way back to full time work.

As I stepped back up to the plate, I found myself amazed at how vivid all of my experiences in shrine felt all of a sudden. Suddenly, I could feel the energy of the rituals I perform pouring over the shrine; I could feel the purifications and the reversion of offerings. In a way it was like watching my actions burst into a life of their own.

I don’t know why it feels so different this time around. I have two suspicions: one, that I came to the priesthood already making regular worship of the gods, and therefore was already acclimated to being in the Divine presence; two, that I have combined my worship practices with exercises that will naturally heighten my perception of things Unseen, and therefore make me more acutely aware of the goings on. Or alternatively: both.

All of this has certainly drawn my attention to just how far I have climbed from the depths of existential angst that I tumbled into in November 2010. I can see the Gods. I can feel Their presences. I know They live, They are a part of my life, and I honor Them. I pray that all of you may know Them as deeply and as fully as you seek.

God’s Eyes.

It is late. The day’s events have delayed my attendance in shrine until long after dark, and as I light the main lamp of my shrine I find myself urged not to light any other candles. The room is dark and shadowy, and I hesitate to speak for fear my words might splinter in the silence.

In spite of the beauty and atmosphere of the shrine, I am struggling to focus. My mind is pulled several different directions. Busy days loom ahead; thoughts of Retreat rattle through my consciousness; concerns about my life drag me away from my center. I am absentminded as I tend to my Father’s Icon.

Look me in the Eyes.

I turn my gaze toward the Icon’s face, watching for a moment, then look to the next part of the Rite.

No. Look me in the Eyes.

I pause. I do.

Keep looking.

“What if I drop something? I need to see what I’m doing, and it’s dark.”

Nonsense. You’ve done this Rite more than a hundred times. You could do it blindfolded. Keep your eyes on Mine.

I do. My hands move slowly, reaching with muscle memory for the tools of the Rite and my offerings. The words are formed carefully, with stolen glances at the ritual script to be sure I do not stumble. The face of the Icon is animated in the candle light: grinning and smirking and looking about; alive. The Rite goes flawlessly; in the darkness and silence of the shrine, Netjer is brilliant.