Kemetic Roundtable – “Fallow Time”

Apologies for a belated post – though ironic for the subject of this particular topic!

“Fallow Time” refers to those periods when we are not being fruitful with our religious or spiritual lives; when we feel disconnected or separated from the gods. It is an incredibly broad term, I think, because it encompasses so many possible causes.

When I feel that disconnect opening up, it manifests in so many ways. I may doubt the validity of my practices. I may have trouble perceiving the presence of the gods. I may feel sluggish or disinterested in worship. I may feel like I am letting the gods down, or like I’m not good enough.

And then, these feelings can come from so many different places. It can be an internal block that causes me to feel distant: depression and anxiety taking over my ability to feel close to the gods. I might be going through a period of self-doubt, wondering if my work is effective or meaningful. And sometimes, the gods leave me to focus on the mundane. Ecstatic experiences aren’t necessarily appropriate woke km cramming for grad school midterms or dealing with a hectic work schedule.

In all of these cases, I have found that persistence helps incredibly. Even if I am not feeling the same intensity of connection, I inevitably benefit from going through with my practices anyway. It is grounding, at the very least, to spend time quietly contemplating the gods. This is, of course, a case of “do as I say, not as I do”, given my general habit of lessening my devotions during periods of stress. Still, when I’m struggling to find a connection, a constant effort helps bridge the gap.

Above all, considering the causes of the silence can be most helpful. My reaction to silence stemming from my own anxiety is likely to be different from my reaction to silence stemming from a simple withdrawal on the part of the gods. If the gods are quiet, maybe I need to concentrate on something like schoolwork or work. If I am unusually depressed or anxious, I should talk about that with my therapist, and try to keep my practices moving. If I am stressed or overwhelmed, I need to keep a constant devotion in a way that doesn’t over tax my resources.

This was kind of rambly, but I guess my point is that the only key to coping with fallow time is treating the cause, if any, and keeping your habits of devotion.

Bereft.

The other night I laid down to go to sleep, and a gaping hole of loss opened up inside of me. The house, my way of life – it’s gone. Normal will change forever; as part of this process, the entire structure of my house is being raised 10 feet. So even the parts that weren’t damaged will have a different view, a different feel.

My ability to go before the gods is gone, too, even if temporarily. I can do Senut, sure – but I am deeply missing the work of the priesthood. It is satisfying work, work that fulfills, work that feeds a part of me that I can barely even sense when I am not engaged in it. Even Senut is dicey, with housekeeping staff in and out of the room, sickness settling in due to cramped quarters, and the restrictions on candles and incense as if I were back in the dorms.

What can I do? I can wait. In time, the house will be finished; we will have the ability to go back and start putting the pieces back together. The journey has been troubling – we have been blocked at what feels like every turn by politics, poor communication, policies changing last minute… we have been on a merry-go-round of paperwork. I pray, with all my heart, that this change will usher in more stability in my life.

And… I can acknowledge the gods in my own small ways: seeing the sunrise, singing in the car, teaching a child, loving a friend.

Aftermath.

It dawns on me that I haven’t spent formal time in my own shrine since October. The storm took so much from me and my family; the fallout extends far beyond just damages to the structure we inhabit. We fight every day to gain the right to repair and rebuild the house. We fight every day to prove we deserve our insurance money, that we aren’t committing fraud.

The storm has given me a few things, too, though I am still sorting out what they are. Endurance, I think, and sturdiness. It is not lost on me that, following Ptah’s year, the literal foundation of my home was ripped away and needs to be raised and repaired.

I see the hands of many gods in my life these days, but I can’t seem to bring myself to reach out and touch Them.

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.