Carrying Their Light, Every Day

I’ve known for years that I was meant to work in a service-oriented position. In elementary school I thought that meant being a teacher. In high school, I waffled between psychology and music education. As an undergraduate student, I landed squarely on the side of psychology, in a tiny corner called “counseling”.

The funny thing about counseling is that you don’t really get to experience it until you’ve already expended significant effort training in it. The work of counseling is so delicate that you have to be carefully trained – and even then, it takes years of supervised practice in most states before you’re permitted to launch your own counseling practice. So for years, I was chasing a goal that felt as alien as the moon — and yet as dear as the grass beneath my feet. How could I love this field so deeply without experiencing it? Real talk — I have no freaking idea. I loved counseling wildly for all four years of my undergraduate training and for all five, laborious, snail-slow years of my graduate training, and I have no idea how.

Now I have the luxury of sitting in my office, embracing the trials of the clients who come through my door. I love every minute of the chaos, of the heartbreak, of the frustration, of the anxiety. I love seeing the face of someone who hears “I’m in your corner” from another person for the first time. I even love the hard stuff. I love sitting with someone in the depths of psychosis, sick and scared and a world apart, compassionately assessing their needs, and advocating for their treatment. I love extending my hands to hold someone’s grief with them for a short space of time.

I first met my gods when I sought out gods for the work that I wanted to do. Sekhmet was the first deity of healing I encountered; Wepwawet just felt right, for reasons I have difficulty articulating. Wepwawet opens the door to healing, creates the space of safety I try to create in my office. Sekhmet illuminates the space with Her light, chasing away the darkness. My Beloveds, too: Bast brings music and joy, the compassion needed to embrace sorrow; Nut brings patience, endurance, wisdom; Khonsu, the surgical precision that carves out pain and exposes bitter truths; and Nebthet, most recently come to my shrine, brings quiet comfort, a gentle mirror to gaze into and reflect.

Even on the hardest days — the days when I’m leaving job #2 at 11 PM after starting job #1 at 5:30 AM, after I’ve been yelled at, told off, had my training questioned, written and re-written assessments, made mistakes and cleaned them up — I still walk out full of joy, with my chin up, feeling like I am finally in the right place.

My goal since becoming Kemetic has been to carry the light of my gods wherever I go. Through the work I’m doing now, I believe I can.

Seasons and Gods

My gods seem to have an arrangement. In the summer, when the air is thick and humid and the sun is an unforgettable presence in the sky, my Mother comes forward. She teaches me about healing, about mercy, about justice. I feel Her wrap Her arms around me as the heat presses against my skin and the sun beats down on my shoulders. It feels like a dance, spun with red linen and turquoise, gold and lapis.

Slowly, as the heat wanes, She retreats and my Father comes forward. As the trees turn burning red and shed their leaves, He starts to whisper in my ear. He teaches me about magic, and authority, and the power to move effortlessly between any two places or roles. He is as crystal clear as the frigid air that starts to show my breath; strong and steadfast, the silence space between the mountains.

I am always my Mother’s child, and I am always my Father’s child — but as the seasons shift, so do They. Perhaps my Mother follows the Wandering Eye myth cycle, being distant at the winter solstice. Perhaps They just want to make things easy on me. Perhaps I’m the one making the division. Who knows? There are some things I just… don’t question, when it comes to the gods. 😉

Milestones

Well, I did it. I finished my master’s degree in counseling. I also passed my licensing exam. Now the only thing standing between me and my dream job is a boatload of paperwork — and hopefully not too many job applications.

I’ve been longing to do this work since before I even knew what it was. My youthful drive to be a teacher was spurred by my desire to be a source of support and an open ear to my students. It wasn’t until I had already sent applications to get my bachelor’s degree in music education that I realized that what I really wanted was to become a therapist.

I didn’t know what that meant when I started my undergraduate work in psychology. I figured I’d learn what I needed to know by the time I got to the end of my bachelor’s degree. I didn’t. I took a year off to get my ducks in a row, and took up a master’s program in mental health counseling.

Through it all, I knew that the work I was learning to do is the work that I was meant to do. Even as an undergraduate, I felt driven towards this goal. It feels like a service to my gods, to heal and to serve. I walk with my clients as their guide through their troubles, and I show them compassion and help them to heal. I see this as the greatest offering I could make – to give my daily work in service to my gods. And now here I am.

Top Ten Tunes: #TeamWepwawet

There is an old adage that music is the universal language. Music is so deep a part of the human experience that it affects our brains in a way that no other activity or creative art does. It makes sense, therefore, that music would be such a popular language of expression for the relationships we have with the gods. We use music to help us focus our meditations, to communicate our experiences, to engage in worship — even just to feel connected in our everyday lives.

Here are my top ten tunes for Wepwawet, presented in no particular order, for your listening pleasure. Some of them have been shared for Music Monday before, so I’ll try to give you a little commentary this time to keep things interesting. 😉

Continue reading “Top Ten Tunes: #TeamWepwawet”

Go Team Wepwawet!

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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?

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I mean, look at that face.

#TeamWepwawet – let’s get this done!

(You can check the leaderboard here!)

Beware the Pigeon-Hole!

I recently had lunch with a handful of friends for the sake of discussing Wepwawet. It felt good to really dig into a conversation about Him with others who were interested in really engaging — something I’ve missed. I’ve held back from writing about all but my most outstanding experiences with Him over the past few years. I haven’t felt like my perspective was worth sharing, nor did I feel it would be well-received. So I kept quiet. In sharing at lunch, however, I was reminded that even those I consider well-versed in Jackal lore enjoy a good conversation — so I’ll give it a go.

I think we are coming dangerously close to pigeon-holing Wepwawet as “God of Opening the Way”.

Yes, that’s what His name literally translates to — but there’s much more than that. He is connected with the legitimization of the rule of the King; with transforming the King into a royal akh after death; with guiding the dead and opening the mouth; with war and victory; and more. He can be called the First Son and is often associated with Heru-sa-Aset, especially as Heru-Nedjitef, or Avenger of His Father.

It’s important to acknowledge that our gods are multifaceted and complex. Hethert, for example, is a goddess of love and women, but also of the dead and the afterlife. Set is the storm and the Outsider, but also the champion of Ra. Bast is a goddess of creativity and joy, but also a fierce protector and a powerful Eye of Ra. Even if we never need Wepwawet to connect us with the royal ancestors, or to authorize the King to rule*, or to guide us into war, it’s important to acknowledge that this is a part of His work. We don’t pigeon-hole our friends and family, and it would serve us not to do the same to the gods.

* if you’re Kemetic Orthodox like I am, you do need this part of Him!