Back from Retreat

Once again, I return from the annual Kemetic Orthodox Wep Ronpet Retreat full of energy and things to write about. I am hoping to dedicate more time to solid blogging this year, but I’ll be honest — with my final year of academic work towards my Masters, a wedding, a full-time job, and actual ritual work to do — I’ll probably be doing a lot of photoblogging and microblogging. Hopefully I can squeeze in a few juicy content posts too, as I have some really deep thoughts rattling around my head right now… but only time will tell. For now, I am just checking in to say that I am here, wishing you all the blessings that the new year has to offer. Di wep ronpet nofret! Nekhtet for Kemetic Orthodox year 22, the year of Aset.

Feminism and the Goddesses of Kemet

Lately I’ve found myself more challenged by feminism than in the past.

I do not and cannot call myself a die-hard feminist. I’m not an activist. I am a quiet supporter, who still indulges in mainstream media while acknowledging how problematic such institutions can often be. I have friends and acquaintances who are heavily involved in the modern feminist movement, however, and during a discussion about religion I felt the unasked question: how does my religion line up with femknism?

As far as dogma and structure, Kemetic Orthodoxy treats women with equality unquestionably; with women as priests and a woman as our founder and Nisut, it would be hard to imagine otherwise. We do practice menstrual taboos, which can be tricky, but the understanding is not that menstruation is “icky”, but that blood loss of any form should be treated with care. (I may be a fledgling feminist, but I really can’t get behind the idea of a period as a source of power anyway. It’s too uncomfortable for me to want to treat it as anything but a time of reservation.)

Beyond that, I have been working on finding stories and myths that offer support to feminist values. My initial thought is always Sekhmet. Her name literally means “Powerful One”, and She commands Ra’s active powers. All the Eyes do. However, Her actions are all under the domain of Ra; all that She does is because of Her Father. I can see some raising an eyebrow here. I would counter with my own UPG about Her, in which She is certainly and unequivocally Her own power.

I also think of Aset. She is the King-maker, who re-animated Her dead husband and raised Her son alone that He would become King in His Father’s succession. All this, too, is done for Her husband, one could argue – but She does other things which speak of Her independence and power, such as stealing the name of Ra for Her own use. She is powerful in Her own right, for Her own desires.

Nit is also interesting as a model of feminine power. She is a creatrix, but importantly, She is not considered particularly feminine. She is associated with war, and with the creation of the Universe – roles usually reserved for male deities. She does not conform to any sort of modern feminine stereotypes and, in my experience, exists squarely outside the traditional gender box.

Frankly, I’d say all the Goddesses of Kemet offer Their own power to the theory of feminism. Hethert offers women the power to be sexual creatures at their own discretion. Bast offers women the power to feel deep emotions and relationships. Sekhmet offers women the power to fight injustice and wickedness. Mut offers women the power to own strength and fierceness alongside ‘traditional’ feminine qualities.

Above all: Ma’at, the central order of the Universe, most highly prized and powerful, is a goddess.

That unasked question came some time ago. It’s taken me quite a while to come to any sort of coherent answer, but I would say with conviction that there isn’t a goddess in all of Kemet who does not, in some way, model a powerful, equal woman. I’d love to hear other perspectives on this. I’m working on a harder question too – that of the Gods offering meaning for the LGBT experience – so if you have any thoughts on that, please feel free to share. 🙂

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DIY Wep Ronpet: Epagomenal Days

Em hotep! In preparation for the end of the year (which is barreling towards us faster than a speeding train I might add), I thought I’d post some tips for those who will be celebrating the arrival of Wep Ronpet at home. I thought I’d break this post up in two, for the last two days of the year – convenient, eh?

First up are the Epagomenal Days – or for those of us not fond of tongue-twisters, the Days Upon The Year. For those of you playing along at home, these are the days that take place after the year has ended but before the new year has begun. Mythologically this comes from the story of the birth of the children of Nut, which was not to take place during any day of the year. Djehuty worked his sly magic, won some light from the moon, and poof – five extra days for Her children.

I like to take these days to honor each of Her children, and to reflect on what of each gods domain I need to improve or eliminate from my life. I start the day by lighting a candle to whichever deity is in festival that day, and stay mindful of what message They might have to bring to me.

The first day belongs to Wesir (Osiris). For Him, I light a green candle. I ask His blessing on my relationship with the Akhu. I will reflect on my own relationship with my ancestors, and how I can improve or better it. I will meditate on stability – where it needs to be built and where it needs to be taken away.

The second day belongs to Heru-wer (Horus the Elder). For Him, I light an orange candle. I ask Him to bring me strength and good judgment. I will reflect on where I am in control of my life, and where I am not. I will meditate on strength – where I need to carry more of it, and where I have exercised too much.

The third day belongs to Set. For Him, I light a red candle. I ask Him to keep chaos and disorder out of my life. I will reflect on what has been stagnant in my life, and what has been out of order. I will meditate on change – where I need to make more of it, and what I need to allow to settle.

The fourth day belongs to Aset (Isis). For Her, I light a blue candle. I ask Her to watch over the heka and magic I do. I will reflect on my successes and failures as a magic worker. I will mediate on wisdom – where I have used right judgment, and where I have erred in my decisions.

The fifth day belongs to Nebthet (Nephthys). For Her, I light a purple candle. I thank Her for the blessing of life for another year. I will ask Her to watch over those I love in the West, and to help me be mindful of how blessed I am to be alive. I will meditate on time – how precious it is, and how I can make the most of it.

Each day, I light a candle for each of the days upon the year that has passed. I light one on Wesir’s day, two on Heru-wer’s day – and so on. If you’re interested in celebrating at home, feel free to use my “template” and add to it as you like. 🙂 Tomorrow, I’ll post about Wep Ronpet itself. Enjoy!

Aset Luminous 2011

Today is Aset Luminous! In the past the feast celebrating Aset and light has fallen on the 4th of July, making the fireworks displays of the United States very appropriate. This year there will be less fanfare, but I will still celebrate with candles and light. I would float my own prayer boat down the local river, but I worry about the environmental implications, especially since it’s already pretty littered and yucky. It’s also still the feast of the Beautiful Reunion – the celebration of the marriage of Heru-wer and Hethert – so it’s a doubly joyful day. Have a wonderful, festive day! 😀