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.

Loving the Moon.

In my life, Khonsu is a god of purification, exorcism, protection, and fierce cleansing; He is also a god of the moon. In spite of his stringent role, Khonsu doesn’t seem to -want- much from me. He quietly reminds me of His presence now and then, and sometimes I remember on my own and He smiles at me. He is a comfortable, well-beloved presence in my life for which I will always be grateful.

Not long after Khonsu indicated that He wanted to be added to my shrine, I’d had a divination done to confirm whether that meant He would be an additional Beloved deity for me to honor. The answer was ambiguous – He gave me a choice. At the time I elected to think about it – and I thought about it for nearly two years.

I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t just accepting a new Beloved out of a desire to “collect” the gods. I truly wanted to avoid the “Pokemon” syndrome of divine relationships. It was difficult for me to understand what it would mean for me to gain Him as a Beloved. How would this change my relationship with the gods I already honor? So many questions.

Finally, a few weeks ago, after feeling a strengthening of His presence, I came to an answer. Beloveds are unique. Their relationships with their beloved followers are individual – some people will never have a strong relationship with their Beloved gods; the gods watch over them and influence them from a distance. Others are almost closer with their Beloveds than with their Parent(s) – and still others honor Them all equally.

I am now a daughter of Wepwawet and Sekhmet-Mut, beloved of Bast, Nut, and Khonsu – daughter of the Opener of Ways and the Powerful Queen, and beloved of the sunrise, the crescent moon, and the star-speckled night sky.

Secrets secrets are no fun…

…unless they help you grow into a fuller human being and understand your role in the Universe.

That doesn’t rhyme very well, but I’m finding that it sums up my opinion of oathbound (aka secret) knowledge in religion. I was listening to a discussion in which the consensus was reached that secret knowledge is basically unnecessary. I disagree. Having participated in oathbound rituals, I will fervently support the movement to keep some wisdom out of the public eye.
Much of the “secret” material I have become privy to is kept thus because it would lack weight and meaning, were it revealed in any other way. It would lack context, and thus cease to be meaningful. This wisdom becomes valuable by the sheer fact that it is not widely distributed. Without that veil, it becomes nothing. It is the act of being given this wisdom – the context in which it is imparted – that infuses it with power.

Meaning is something that humans often make of the random happenings around us. I have recently suffered through a really rough period of a few weeks. I chose, initially, to attribute all of this to my gods. I blamed Them, and my lack of attendance in shrine due to occupational conflicts, for the pain I was experiencing. I’m still not certain I don’t believe that, but I have also attributed the meaning of these events as a realigning of my life more fully into Ma’at, like the splinting of a broken bone. Similarly, meaning is what we make it, in terms of sacred secrets. We can experience wisdom in a sacred context that would never hold any weight in a secular revelation, and thus attribute deep, holy meaning to it.

I won’t say that there are no sacred secrets which are simply kept because group members feel the privilege should only belong to certain people, or to control others. It does happen, and that is a clear abuse of the spiritual relationship formed between students of a religion and its teachers. This should not mean that true wisdom, a true experience of sacred oathbound knowledge, should be discredited entirely. When appropriate, it is never done to exclude. It is never done to shame those who have not yet partaken of the experience. When appropriate, the secrets are kept so that at the right time, each devotee may have a transformational moment, in which they are blessed with an understanding of themselves, their spirituality, and the nature of whatever sacred secret has been revealed.

Why Dice & Diamonds?

It occurs to me that I don’t actually have an explanation for the name of this website listed anywhere on it! So, in case you’ve been wondering: here’s an explanation.

The name “Dice and Diamonds” comes from my initial perceptions of my Parents following my Rite of Parent Divination. I have always seen Wepwawet as a god of chance and luck in some ways. When I would bring an image of His to a game night with my friends, I would ask for His help. Inevitably, the game would become more interesting – and not always in my favor! My initial impressions of Sekhmet-Mut were of royalty and finery. She gave off an air of nobility and expensive taste. (An air that has yet to disperse, I should add!)

The name kind of sprang forth organically from those concepts. It’s delightfully alliterative and assonant, which made it pleasant to say, and it’s accurate. Originally there was a subtitle which had changed a few times, but I gave up on it after a while and now the name stands as it is – short, sweet, and to the point.

Episode 21: Initiations: Divination and Shemsu Naming

Remember: the stuff I write about my faith is my own experience and my own opinion. If you are curious about our rituals, beliefs and practices, please go to netjer.org to learn more. 🙂

I’ve been thinking about what I could say about the Rite of Parent Divination and Shemsu Naming that isn’t just the same old ‘define the rite and then talk about my experiences’ schtick. It’s hard, because it is such an emotional experience, and I really do love talking about it. It’s been done to death, however, so I’ll just save it and give you the synopsis.

About four years ago, I underwent the Kemetic Orthodox ritual of the Rite of Parent Divination. This ritual is a divination meant to determine the deity (or deities) who are the spiritual Parent(s) and Beloved(s) of a person. The role of the Parent and Beloved deities varies from person to person, but the majority of people honor their Parent(s) as patron(s) and their Beloved(s) as some kind of auxiliary patron(s).

My RPD validated in a huge way many of the experiences I’d had. I was divined as a child of Wepwawet and Sekhmet-Mut, beloved of Bast and Nut, and got a strong but neutral message from my ancestors. Then, a few weeks later, my Shemsu Name was publicly revealed to be Sobeqsenu.

So much emphasis is put on learning one’s ‘lineup’ (a very silly word to use) and one’s name that the rite of passage aspect of these rituals is pretty well ignored, in my opinion. At their heart, I think the function of the RPD and Naming ritual is not just to spit out data, but to connect the candidate with three previously unlinked worlds: the ancestors, the gods, and the living Kemetic Orthodox community. The RPD provides a framework for communication with the dead and with the Divine, while Naming provides a formal welcome amongst the Shemsu, the followers of Netjer. Some people who have gone through these rites remark that they feel more ‘tuned in’ to the Unseen world afterwards, and I think that on many levels that’s what the RPD does. It is like installing a three way phone line in your head.

I placed an enormous amount of weight on the information gained during the RPD. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important. For me, it revealed the framework underneath my identity – explained parts of me that I never understood or explored. But at the time I never considered the implications beyond that. Now as I was ruminating on my experiences with the initiatory process, I have come to the realization that I was given much, much more than just Gods to worship or a new nickname to use.