Everything is falling apart and it sucks.

Drama. Chaos. Upheaval.

We struggle with these issues in our life every day. We see our friends bickering, our co-workers cheating, our superiors ignoring their duties. We see laws broken and justice ignored.

No matter what we do, we always seem to see some disruption around us. Sometimes it nudges its way into our personal life, and it feels absolutely awful. Even when we’re not directly involved, seeing the people we love hurting or feeling lost hurts us too. We ask ourselves the perennial question: how did things get so bad? Why can’t things be like they were before?

Chaos has always been a part of the human condition, and it most likely always will. There is a class of literature in Ancient Egypt often simply called “Lamentations”. I am not talking about the ritual text where Aset and Nebthet seek and mourn Wesir. I am talking about texts where JoeHotep sits down and writes the equivalent of a blog post about how miserable everything is getting. Everything is falling apart and it sucks.

And yet – Egypt endured for thousands more years after the writing of these texts. Consider The Dialogue of a Man and His Soul. It was written around the Twelfth Dynasty — and yet the world did not end. Other similar dialogues were also written long before the end of Ancient Egypt as we conceive of it today.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the present and feel like there is no solution to our suffering. It’s easy to dismiss solutions and think nothing will ever change. In times of grief and chaos I turn to these lamentations and take comfort in knowing that if these ancestors could feel so lost and yet have their words endure through the millennia, I can make it to next Tuesday without being lost in the chaos.

Doubt, existential crises, and choosing faith.

I suck at having faith. I joke to myself that I am one step away from being an atheist; if it’s not the gods of Egypt, it’s no gods at all. I disguise the seriousness of that feeling by calling it a joke — but it’s 100% truth.

I don’t know how I got to this point, honestly. One day I went to bed full of wonder at the Unseen world that surrounded me;  in the night I was gripped with terrifying doubt that left me disturbed for days straight. I shook it off, only to face it again a few years later, this time so intensely that I became physically ill for weeks, unable to eat or sleep as I grappled with the question of what happens after death.

Eventually I became distracted enough with the demands of daily life that my angst faded into a quiet hum of “what if” in the background — but it never dissipated, and I doubt it ever will. I consider myself a scientist at heart, and I am constantly trying to break my beliefs against what can be measured and tested in the lab. The evidence for atheism is strong. The chemicals released in the brain at death are the right ones to induce the feeling of religious ecstasy reported by so many people who have near-death experiences. All signs point to no. And yet I still practice. Why?

It’s a choice. If I live my life serving the gods and there are none, what have I lost? Perhaps time spent kneeling before Their shrines — but is time spent in peaceful reflection really wasted? If there are no gods, then the purpose of life is what we make of it, and I have chosen to dedicate my life to seeking moments of peace and awe, and to helping others. I have chosen to do something that makes me feel better now, instead of dwelling on what might come later.

The crash.

I remember being new to Kemetic Orthodoxy. Everything felt exhilarating. For the first time in my life I had a direct line to communicate with the gods. I felt when They were near me keenly, as vividly as I felt any human presence. I could hear Them speaking when I calmed my body and centered my mind. I was feeling things I’d never felt and experiencing things I’d never experienced. I loved Them deeply, and I was overwhelmed to feel how much They loved me.

Time passed. My relationship with the gods began to normalize. When Wepwawet’s voice spoke through the songs on the radio, I was first thrilled, then touched, and then… mildly bemused. The things that once caused my breath to catch and my spine to tingle were suddenly a part of everyday life with the gods.

And it sucked.

I felt abandoned. The excitement was gone. I began to wonder whether the gods were angry with me. Were They pulling away from me? Had I done something to offend Them and make Them withdraw? Was I losing my ability to communicate? All I knew of religion was ecstatic intensity, and suddenly I couldn’t feel that anymore.

Any new relationship is exciting, and religion is no exception. It puts us in dialogue with something greater than us, and calls to our deepest self. It is more powerful than any secular relationship — and yet it is not immune to the same pitfalls. As time passes, the thrill we feel in a new relationship fades into something calmer and more constant. We don’t live with our friends or romantic partners eternally giving us butterflies the way they did when we first met. So, too, do we not live in the same intense space that we occupied when we first met our gods.

When I felt this natural ebb for the first time, I panicked. I blamed myself. I frantically tried to reach for the powerful joy that They had brought me, and — finding only contentment and happiness — felt lost. It was frightening to think I had lost something that had brought me so much joy already.

I write about this now in an attempt to reach those new to the worship of their gods, to head off those fears and normalize this natural experience. It’s normal to lose the intensity in your relationship with the divine. It’s normal to go through cycles in your devotion. Just breathe and let it happen, be as present with the gods as you can, and keep moving. It’s a process.


Share the love.

Once upon a time, the purpose of this blog was to write about my personal experiences with the gods. After a while, I sort of veered away from that and tried to write about these vast, sweeping concepts that would possibly be useful — in my mind — to other people who might be curious about the gods and want to know what to do with Them. That shift coincided with the time when I became a priest, and I know why — it had to do with feeling pressured to write something intellectual, by virtue of my new title. (As a newly minted wife, I can write a lot about the pressure that titles can cause. Hoo boy.)

Except — the charge They give me, periodically, is to “carry Their light”. (Hence the new title of this blog.) But what’s the most effective way to carry the light of the gods? Is it scrambling to write about broad concepts of ethics and theology? Is it finding a voice of authority and preaching about Ma’at and purity? Or is it talking about the gods and Their voices, Their words — Their light?

It’s always about Them. Anything I write, anything I do — if I want to share Them with the world, it has to be about Them. Even in the fallow times, even in the times of doubt.

I don’t always have a great relationship with my gods, which makes it even harder to keep writing about Them. Leading up to the wedding, They were mostly a guilty afterthought while I sifted through different choices and rushed to fittings and tastings and meetings with this or that vendor. When work or my graduate studies heat up, I often have to set Them aside and concentrate on the work at hand. But I still feel the pressure to write, so I try to write something impersonal and cerebral, which is not in my nature — and I get stuck because it’s not. So I don’t post. And then we’re in the cycle of not posting, feeling guilty, having to write an apology for not posting, and then not posting again for weeks.

This is all just a prelude, though, to share what Sekhmet said this morning.

“Tell someone you love them. Someone who will not expect it. Don’t lie and say it to someone you don’t love, but share that love with someone who has not heard it from you yet, or has not heard it often enough. Share your love.”

I get a super love-y Sekhmet. Probably this has to do with the fact that it’s Sekhmet-Mut, not original flavor Sekhmet, but that’s conjecture. Either way, She says to share the love.

That wasn’t so hard — I’ll try to be less cerebral in the future, and work on sharing Their love. 😉

Happy (secular) New Year

I don’t know where to start. That’s my least favorite part of picking blogging back up after a long hiatus — I have no idea what to say.

I’m married now, though, so that’s awesome. Most of my lack of concentration lately has come from the fact that wedding planning is incredibly distracting and all encompassing. I never imagined how much time it would suck up, but I withdrew from nearly everything other than WEDDING.

It’s done now, though, so I can once again think about the gods and stuff. I hope. If I can ever finish all the laundry that piled up during the month of the wedding.