It’s okay to be different.

When we talk about Ancient Egypt, we’re really talking about a society that spanned thousands of years. The culture varied, social norms varied — while the ancient people valued ma’at, tradition, and consistency, there is evidence in surviving art and literature of an evolving people.

I’ll be honest – I don’t really follow what’s going on with the larger polytheist community. Even though I have a tumblr, I don’t really use it to socialize. I haven’t had that kind of time (though now that I’m about to finish my master’s degree, that might change). But I’ve seen some talk about people feeling unwelcome — or being unwelcome — because of how they worship.

Here’s the thing: if Kemet itself varied over time, and we are basing what we do off of Kemet, doesn’t it stand to reason that there’s room for all of us under the umbrella? I might not agree with how some people choose to honor the gods, but I certainly won’t tell them not to do it that way. And if someone tells me I’m worshiping wrong, I don’t immediately assume I’m in the wrong.

I can’t tell anyone what to do. I will suggest that anyone who is thinking of telling someone they’re wrong in their relationship with the gods, should take a step back and question why they are so concerned with what other people are doing, and not what they are doing. I will also suggest that anyone who hears that what they are doing is wrong should remember that Kemet itself contained a variety of attitudes toward the gods.

I’m told that even the ancients were making complaints about each other – see “The Admonitions of Ipu-wer” or “The Discourse of a Man and his Ba”. And somehow, they survived thousands of years. If they can do it, so can we.

Seven.

A letter to the blogger, seven years in the past.

Dear… you (because seven years ago we were not Sobeq yet, nor the magpie, nor any of the things we would yet become),

You cannot see where we are going, but from my vantage point seven years in the future, I can see where we have been. You will never read this letter, but I need to write it nonetheless; need to tell you about the next seven brilliant years you will know.

Today you take a single step on a lengthy journey. It will feel like the culmination of miles of travel; it will feel like a homecoming. Don’t be fooled. It is the first step, not the final one. You are now walking on a path hand-in-hand with these gods. Everything you do will be tempered by your relationship with Them, from now on. You will find yourself trying foods that remind you of Them – and loving them. You will buy clothes that feel “Jackal-y”, wear jewelry that reminds you that you are the daughter of the mother of the gods. You will try to please your Beloveds, earnestly trying almond milk and hazelnut lattes to connect with Them.

You will meet people, too. You will make friends who enrich your life in ways you never knew it needed enriching. You will find yourself with friends old enough to be your mother or father (you will try hard not to remind them of your age, but it will inevitably come up again and again). They will teach you how to say grace, how to pray, how to greet someone warmly. And more: how to navigate the subway, how to drink tequila, how to dance late into the night. With them you will support the mourning, celebrate milestones, travel, start and end relationships, know what it means to be hurt and to reconcile. You will know “drama”. You will gossip, and be reminded that gossip is not always productive. You will learn how to fly — not literally, but in a plane. You will learn how to navigate the complexities of airport security. You will try to learn how to take a taxi but will never really understand how to tip or know how much it’s going to cost.

You will learn manners, etiquette. Your eyes will be opened to what it really means to respect all others. The people you meet will reflect the value of what your family had been teaching; you will finally understand what they had been trying to show you over the last 18 years. You will learn humility. You will learn the value of cultural competency. You will learn time management skills, cooperation, conflict resolution. You will embarrass yourself. You will redeem yourself. You will learn how to live through failure. You will learn how to succeed with grace.

You will love these people. You will accept some, and tolerate others. You will get married with two of them at your side. You will call them part of your family. When times come that you feel you may as well abandon your faith, they will be by your side.

Today you will gain more than just a divination, more than spiritual knowledge. Today you will commit yourself to a path that will bring you to people who will change your life. Walk it, love it, and live it to the very fullest.

To seven more years as full as the last,

Your future self.

 

[KRT] Live and Let Live

Hey, I’m finally jumping back on the wagon for the Kemetic Roundtable! Let’s see what this topic is…

Differences in practices: How do you deal with them? How do we overlook our differences in practice and UPG? What do we do if our experiences don’t line up with others?

In the past, differences in practice have been such a point of contention in the Kemetic community. Kemetic Orthodox Shemsu were cliquish and brainwashed idiots practicing watered down tripe; independent Kemetics were antagonistic anarchists who wanted to steal everyone else’s hard work; Tameran Wiccans were new age, fluff-headed nincompoops… it goes on. I am as guilty of Kemetic xenophobia as anyone else in my community. I have seen the rituals of some other groups and of some solitary Kemetics, in the past, and been baffled or even irritated by them. I have said quietly to myself, “that ninny doesn’t know what s/he is doing”.

I’m human, and at the outset of my Kemetic journey I was barely eighteen. Adolescents are pre-programmed to be cliquey, judgmental brats — aren’t they? It took time, some serious faux pas, and observation of my role models for me to learn how to disagree respectfully. I feel I’ve come a long way since my militant Kemetic days, and I am grateful for that. I am still fiercely proud to be Kemetic Orthodox, and I still feel a bit of a sting whenever I hear people dismissing my faith out of hand for one reason or another. Having the good sense to step down off the soapbox has helped immensely, however.

With that in mind, how do I deal with differences in practices? I don’t. My practices are my own, and I can’t dictate to someone else what they should or should not do. If they want to be Kemetic Orthodox, I will gently guide them toward what is appropriate within the Kemetic Orthodox framework – but even then, I can’t force or judge them. Each person’s path is their own to walk. Unless they start doing things that hurt themselves or other people, it’s not my place to intervene.

To be completely honest, in most cases I’m so excited to meet someone who honors the same gods that I do, that I don’t really care to pick apart the differences in our practices. This is especially true in my daily life. If I meet someone who is honoring the gods in earnest, it makes me giddy. I could liken it to finding someone who goes to your favorite secret coffee shop, or who loves your favorite poet. It’s an intimate connection, something I cherish for what it is. We may not be calling Them the same names or praising Them with the same words — but we share a love of something that feels deeply profound (more so than a coffee shop). I tend to want to honor that shared love as it is, without complicating it with criticism or advice. If they say they do things differently, I want to know why — maybe their reasoning will reveal some aspect of my gods that I have not come to know yet. To say that I have every knowledge of my gods – the vast, enduring gods whose reach spans millennia – would be hopelessly arrogant. I want to hear their perspective, in the hopes that my own will grow.

At the end of the day, if our experiences differ vastly, I can only speculate as to why. Does it hurt me and my practice if they have a wildly different relationship with my gods? Not particularly. Can I really change what they are doing? Not particularly. I can only be vocal about my own experiences, and hope that the people who seek out relationships with my gods will make their own educated decisions on their own journeys. I’d hazard a guess that no two people – even within a Kemetic community, or any religious community to be sure – have exactly the same practices, conceptions of the divine, and divine relationships. Better not to offer unsolicited advice and just enjoy what you have in common than drive unnecessary wedges between one another.

If someone asks for your help it’s a different matter entirely, of course — this all assumes you’re just coexisting. If you’re mentoring or advising someone, you may need to take a more direct approach!)

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.

Quick Notes from Retreat

image

Retreat is under way, and I’m having so many thoughts about everything already. It has been a very profound experience for me already – both personally and spiritually. I am amazed at what we as a community are capable of accomplishing; I am amazed at how close we can become with what feels like no effort. I will have much more to say as the days unfold, but for now I send you love and best wishes for Year 20, the year under Nut, Who is the Sky at Night.

Posted from WordPress for Android