Quick Notes from Retreat

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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.

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Snapshots.

One:

I am young, but old enough that we’ve just covered Egypt in our history class. I’ve been given the cutest book – a short book of facts about the ancient kingdom, its people, and of course it’s gods, written in a tabloid style. I devour the book, reading the section about the gods multiple times. Later, after school when I am playing with younger children at the after-care program, we line up in order of height and play “procession”, chanting the names of the gods while lifting our hands in the air. I can vividly remember praising Nut with particular vigor, enamored of her bright blue skin dusted with stars, the lights of the dead.

Two:

I am a few years older now, a freshman in high school. Adolescence is not kind to me. The changes of puberty have sent me on an emotional tightrope; it takes little to make me curl up on my bed in tears. One night, fed up with the isolation of being an awkward, shy teenager, I am crying and shaking and failing miserably at falling asleep. I try my hand at desperate prayer. “Please, Father – I just need this awful feeling to go away for a little while.”

For the first time in my life, I hear a reply: “Well, okay. Just for now.” This comes in a voice I will eventually grow to know as the Jackal; a warm, musical baritone at the back of my consciousness.

Link – The Book of the Celestial Cow: A Theological Interpretation

I just wanted to share a link that was added in the comments of my post about the Destruction of Mankind. The Book of the Celestial Cow: A Theological Interpretation is a very deep, scholarly analysis of the myths contained in the Book of the Celestial Cow from a Neoplatonic philosophical perspective. Be sure to settle down in a quiet place to read; it’s fascinating but totally packed with wisdom to digest, so you may want to avoid trying to juggle troubleshooting an 8-year-old’s DS and trying to grasp the nature of the gods all at the same time.

And if you enjoy what you’ve read, you’ll be glad to know that the author has a blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

Five years ago…

… I sat breathlessly in the shrine at Tawy, barely able to watch as Hemet (AUS) – who I had only just met, then – cast handfuls of shells into a tray. I was anxious – I had been overwhelmed, strangely, by my Akhu reading. Partly because the deities who were associated with that reading were Heru, Set, and Yinepu – which made me worry that Wepwawet would not be a part of my divine lineage, something I had been quietly confident about, though I swore I would approach the rite with an open mind.

The night before, we had sat in the shrine singing and drumming quietly, because we enjoyed each other’s company and the presence of the gods; the RPD candidates slept in the shrine, our mattresses lined up on the floor. The morning before that, I was welcomed with hugs and warmth from a priest of the temple – something I will never forget.

The moment of my divination is a blur of clattering cowries, whispered conversation from the observers behind me, and the rustle of papers that Hemet used to take notes. What I remember most clearly is the announcement that I had two Parents and two Beloveds, and the question: did I want to guess? I didn’t, and that seemed to be met with surprise.

I replay this moment repeatedly at this time of year. Each anniversary takes on a different meaning, as my role within the faith changes. By the second anniversary, I had done Weshem-ib and was a Shemsu-Ankh. By the fourth, I was a priest. And even beyond my changing place in the temple, my own life changes. When I was divined, I was a college freshmen, just starting my second semester. I went through my entire college career, which literally changed everything I thought I knew about myself. I bought cars, I lived on my own, I moved back home, I had relationships and heartbreak. I got bitterly wounded by both strangers and those I thought I could trust. I took on responsibility and I ran from it.

I will never stop being grateful for that day, for the gods who stepped forward to look after me, for the gods who came later, for the community I have come to love, and for every blessed moment within it.

Five years is such a long time for something that takes no time at all.

Peret.

Today is the first day of Peret, on the Kemetic Orthodox calendar. Akhet brings the flood, and Peret brings the growing.

It is also the first really wintery day here. The sky is beautifully blue and clear, and the air is dry and cold. I’ve been relying on chapstick and hand lotion pretty heavily. This is probably the season with the greatest disconnect for me, as a Shemsu in a very different climate. It is hard for me to imagine Kemet with snowy fields and frozen lakes, but that’s what Peret means here.

It encompasses the depths of winter, complete with blizzards and sleet and hail. It also touches the beginnings of spring, the verbal equinox, just at the end of the season.

Peret is a word referring to coming forth, to emerging. It is the word in the Kemetic title of the Book of the Dead: the prt m hrw, the Book of Coming Forth By Day. I know I don’t feel much like coming forth at any point, day or night, during the winter. And yet, I will always emerge on the other side, cautiously peering out in the spring. Perhaps the coming Forth is not something done during this month, but at the end – after I have spent time withdrawn, curled in a quiet space, growing in my own way.

This season, my thoughts turn to the colder gods. To Sokar, to Nebthet, to Set, Yinepu, Nut. And especially to my Akhu, whose stars are more visible in the clear winter sky, and mirrored in the holiday decorations around town. May we be blessed in this season of quiet growth.

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ Tomorrow, I’ll post about Wep Ronpet itself. Enjoy!

Shrine Tour

I’m a little under the weather this week, it seems. So instead of trying to kick my brain into gear for an actual post, have a tour of the shrines in my home. I just undertook a huge cleaning of my room, which included tidying the shrines in my life. Have a look!

This is my Akhu shrine. It’s full of things that remind me of my ancestors, by blood, by kinship or by faith. There are little pyramids and Egyptian style images for the people of Kemet, whose gods I worship; there is a hymnal, some prayer cards and a rosary for my Catholic ancestors; there are a few pictures of my ancestors, tucked in there in places, and little things that the people who I knew would like – a miniature clarinet, flower shaped candles, stained glass hummingbird, a doll’s tea set.

This is a tiny shrine to Djehuty, kind of. This sits next to my computer desk, as evidenced by the external hard drive and the speaker. I’m not sure it’s a shrine to Djehuty as much as it is a shrine to wisdom and prosperity in a myriad of forms. It’s got an owl, a little toy Djehuty, a fountain pen and a few other things that seemed appropriate at the time. Most of the things here were given to me as gifts.

This is a very small shrine to Khonsu, and kind of also Mut and Amun-Ra. A few years ago, Khonsu demanded my attention. He insisted I add Him to my shrine, and listen to Him – obviously I listened. On His shrine are some white beads, a clear glass ball, a nutty essential oil perfume, and some white shells.

This is my shrine for the year of Zep Tepi. I have a small electric tea-light for each season of the year, and ribbons for each of the gods assigned to each season: Ra, Mut, and Mehet-Weret. The blue bowl is full of water, for the Nun, the potential from which Zep Tepi occurred.

This shrine is for my Beloveds, Bast and Nut. Bast is on the right, and Nut is on the left. Bast’s shrine has offerings of a small fountain, a tambourine, a christmas ornament, seashells, sea glass, smooth stones, perfume and jewelry. Nut’s shrine has offerings of feathers and dried flowers, a milky-way paperweight, a stone egg, blue stones and coins, and a drawing by Shemsu Kefetmisenu. The image of Nut I am using is not specifically Her, but it is the representation She said I should use.

Last but not least is my personal shrine, my Senut shrine. Here are offerings to my two Parents, Wepwawet and Sekhmet-Mut. They have two christmas ornaments, their shenu (in the silver boxes under candles), my Shemsu-Ankh scarab, an hourglass, a stone box full of coins, perfumes, a glass prism, tea leaves, rose quartz, jewelry, obsidian, arrowheads, and more things I can’t even begin to count. Wepwawet wears a snowflake obsidian bracelet and a wooden skull necklace; Sekhmet-Mut wears an amber bracelet and a hematite/rose quartz necklace.

So those are my shrines – small pictures, yes, because I only have my phone to take pictures. I know that when I was first starting out on my path, seeing other people’s altars inspired me to build one of my own; and now, seeing another person’s shrine is like getting a physical glimpse of their relationship with their God(s). So there you have it – God takes up a lot of space in my life, and has a lot of my stuff. ๐Ÿ˜‰