I found ma’at between my couch cushions.

My ma’at feather necklace had been missing for a few weeks. I couldn’t quite recall where I had taken it off; normally I would have laid it on the nightstand with my wedding ring, after taking off my jewelry for the day. At some point I had deviated from the norm, and it was missing. I muddled through in spite of its disappearance.

I didn’t have much time to think about it. I worked 10 days without a break, sometimes 18 hours a day. I pushed myself into socializing, into taking on responsibilities, into sneaking into my work email to check on things even when I was supposed to be relaxing. I pushed and pushed myself. I spent my one day off doing chores and cleaning, and I hurt my back cleaning the cat litter. I kept working. I kept pushing.

I had fallen into a pattern of neglecting my own needs. It went beyond trampling my own boundaries at work — I wasn’t eating well, I wasn’t sleeping well, I wasn’t giving myself the space to breathe in my daily life.

Finally, on a Sunday, I caught a cold. Just a cold, complete with runny nose, scratchy throat, and fatigue. I worked Monday, and pushed through feeling run-down and crummy. That night I fought with myself. Would I push through and go to work, or would I pull back, rest, and allow myself to do better the rest of the week? Finally, I put my own foot down. I would rest.

On my sick day, I was fluffing the couch cushions to prepare for some extra-strength Doing Absolutely Nothing when something caught my eye between the cushions — a silver chain. I picked it up and there it was — my ma’at feather.

All at once the symbolism of the moment struck me. This was my life. My priorities were all mixed up. I was working too hard and ignoring my needs. My self-care was in the toilet, and ma’at was shoved in between the couch cushions. Pulling my life back into ma’at by taking care of myself allowed me to pull my pendant back out from hiding.

This is my new commitment: to focus back in on what is important and necessary to live according to ma’at. To balance my work–which very much feeds my heart and soul, but is also emotionally draining–with my religious practice and social needs, but also with basic self-care: making time to eat right, sleep well, and care for my physical and mental health.

Back to Reality

Once again the year has reached its end and then its beginning, and I am returning from the House of Netjer’s annual Wep Ronpet Retreat. This year was different. Rather than being held near the House’s temple building in Illinois, the retreat was held in Portland — Oregon, not Maine, as I found I would have to clarify multiple times when talking with family and friends.

I was worried that holding our celebrations outside of a formal temple environment would diminish them, somehow. Instead, I found that it reinvigorated them. First: the Kennedy School, where we held our celebrations, was absolutely delightful. The accommodations were well-furnished and pleasant, the conference spaces were comfortable and beautiful, and the staff were respectful and even curious about our activities. In past years, we were asked to make our own arrangements for dining. This year we were served multiple meals and ate together as a group, sharing breakfast and having comfortable, easy conversation in the bright light filtering through the windows. The room where we held our pre-Retreat priests’ meeting was furnished with soft couches for everyone, for goodness’ sake!

More to the point — the gods and ancestors were present. From the moment we opened with amulet-making to the dawn rites of New Year’s morning, They made Themselves known. Sekhmet was present in Saq at Her ceremony — made even more special because it is Her year. The gods were pleased with our morning celebrations, with Ra appearing and blessing our rites. And the Ordeal of Weshem-ib went smoothly, bringing four more children of Netjer into the order of the Shemsu-Ankh.

Change is good, it would seem. And also inevitable. Change is part of being human, being mortal. Even the gods Themselves have been known to change, temporarily and permanently. I am looking forward to sharing some changes here, and making changes in my personal life and religious life. It will be good.

Money – it’s a drag.

Thanks to Pink Floyd for the title inspiration. 😉

Money is a fraught subject, especially when it comes to donations to religious organizations. Most polytheists and pagans are converts from “mainstream” religions, where collection plates are passed around during services each week, and tithing from one’s paycheck is to be expected.

We are also taught by concerned friends and family that we need to beware of groups that seek our financial contributions. We are warned away from religions that require numerous financial donations, because they could be dangerous cults.

And culturally (at least in the West) we are taught that one should never spend money without getting something in return.

A request for donations from a religious group, therefore, can feel like a major affront. What will I get in exchange for my donation? Is this the start of a sinister series of attempts to drain my bank account? This is just like my Christian church, isn’t it.

Let’s be real. Any organization incurs operational costs. If the organization has a website, that’s a cost right there — for web-hosting and domain registration and general upkeep and maintenance. Does the group have insurance? That’s a cost. Does the group own property? That’s another cost. Is the group tax exempt? Does the group employ an accountant or any other external vendors to help manage operations? Does the group pay any full-time clergy or staff?

It adds up fast.

So what do you get in exchange for your donation? You get all the services and resources that you enjoy as a member of your organization. Sure, nobody is going to turn you away if you don’t make a contribution, but the costs are still going to be there.

How can you tell if a donation request is genuine or an attempt to steal all your money? Well, is the group pushing you to go beyond your means, or are they asking for a donation of “whatever you can contribute”? Is the group trying to sell you on expensive retreats or equipment that you can’t afford, and then questioning your dedication if you don’t buy in? Is the group open to you whether you donate or not? A dangerous cult will push you beyond your means, and ridicule you or shun you when you can’t exceed them. A group that is asking for donations in earnest will encourage you to give what you can on a regular basis, and be understanding when you can’t.

Is this just like your Christian church? Maybe. Part of the reason Christian churches do so well is that there is an expectation that members will make contributions to the operations of the church. Many churches and parishes have financial support from a central leadership — and many pagan or polytheist groups are the only one of their kind, so they lack that support.

Don’t be hasty to judge a group for asking for money. If you participate in a group, and you have some cash to spare, consider making a donation towards the services you receive as a member. It’s not rude, or money-grubbing, or sinister to ask your members for money. It’s reality!

The House of Netjer is asking for money. We are asking our members to make whatever contributions they can to the operations of our temple. If you are a member, and you can make a contribution of even $5, it can go a long way. (Does anyone else remember that commercial with Roma Downey for some children’s charity — “With your $5 and your $5…” — just me? Right, then.) And if you can’t spare $5, then don’t.

Even if you aren’t a member, if you believe in supporting organized polytheist religion, you are invited to contribute. We may not honor the same gods, but we do well when we support each other.

Hand Crafted (1)
Click here to make a donation.

Go Team Wepwawet!

So here’s the thing… you know that jackal-headed guy?

anubis_attending_the_mummy_of_sennedjem
Source

No, not him — that’s Anubis (or Yinepu, or Anoup, or Anpu, or… you get the idea).

This guy! This is Wepwawet. Sometimes you might hear him called Upwawet, or Upwaut, or Upuat, or even just Wpwwt. And he’s kind of a big deal.

tumblr_o50rjyxdo61sngcuwo1_540
Source

His name means “Opener of Ways”, and that can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. A lot. Sometimes it means opening the way for the dead.

wepwawet2bguiding2bseti2bi
Source

Sometimes it means opening the way for the military, being carried on a standard.

ivorylabelofden-britishmuseum-august19-08
Source

Sometimes there’s even TWO of him, that’s how important he is.

1174px-kom_ombo_0347-d
Source

He has associations with legitimizing the king’s reign through this thing called the Sed festival. He also makes sure the king gets to the right place in the afterlife. Here he is hangin’ with his BFF, Seti I.

14_seti_abydos
Source

He looks pretty much like any other jackal-headed deity, to be honest. He gets confused with Anubis/Yinepu/Anpu/etc. quite a lot.  It’s a little confusing, especially when they show up in the same place from time to time.

aedd2b87fc0dc402406382ccb98c1b27
Source

He’s  got some bitchin’ nicknames, too. Some people call him He Who Possesses the Two Lands in Triumph. Some people call him Lord of Carnage. Others call him Lord of Joy. (He’s got a pretty good reputation.)

teamwepwawet_zpsl8quoalgSo why am I raving about this most excellent dude? Well, every year the House of Netjer holds a contest as a fundraiser. It’s almost like the Penny Wars, if you ever played those in high school or summer camp. The goal is to collect the most votes for your team. Each vote is a small donation (in this case, anything over $1), limit 1 per day. Don’t forget to write that you’re voting for Wepwawet in the donation notes!

This year, I am pushing HARD to get Himself a spot in the winners’ circle. Don’t you think he deserves it?

dp310779
Source

I mean, look at that face.

#TeamWepwawet – let’s get this done!

(You can check the leaderboard here!)