Tracking a Rebirth – Cycle of the Year

Hi. It’s been (another) while.

In that while, I’ve moved across biomes and find myself in a new place – with a more fleshed out philosophical point of view to boot.

When I first started this blog, I was teaching near my home town. The landscape and its seasons were etched into my heart. I knew the names of the trees, the pattens of my lake, and I could see the figures of myth and legend in the world around me.

Since then, I’ve moved away, gone to grad school, gotten a job, and have settled in a place whose flora and fauna and yearly cycles I have yet to really come to know. I’ve also more fully embraced my view of the gods as something I want – they help me focus, they are parts of the world and myself – while coming to peace that I don’t see them as “people in the sky”, but rather “people in my head/heart”.  And that I can feel them still and call to them, even while knowing they are archetypes or forces without sentience on the one hand but powerful and real experiences/natural phenomena on the other. And I’ve come to peace with the fact that there’s a part of me that will always call to them, as if the people in my head or forces in my world can hear such a call. Even if I know in the end, any answer or revelation is a combination of luck and effort – the call is an important act.

Now, Aset and Wesir aren’t in the cypress and rivers and rain, they are the cypress and rivers and rain personified, deified (to me). But now…the land on which I dwell hasn’t had cypress or rivers for years, and while I still see them there, they are foreigners, like me.

I’ve also started to wonder how much I am appropriating another culture by claiming the title of “Kemetic-inspired”. I’ve taken something and truly made it my own, but I don’t really have any claim to it in the first place.

When I look to the things that would be less appropriated, I have a hard time getting past some of the things I built around when forming my Kemetic practice or it just doesn’t “speak” to me. Heathenism is interesting, and Odin and Freya are interesting figures. But I have a hard time coming to grips with some of its racially-charged past. Odin is an interesting queer-esque figure, but the nature that lore revolves around is entirely different from the temperate world I live in.

Wicca, being perhaps my first introduction to paganism, always pops back up as a possibility – flexible, new, modern. But there is a lot of duality inherent in Wicca – and its very hard for me to dwell spiritually in a system that puts so much emphasis on it.

So I feel like I’m starting to rebuild my spiritual practice from the ground up. Ellen Cannon Reed’s “Heart of Wicca” always spoke me to me because it firmly advocates for making your practice your own – and reading that as a younger person always made me feel valid in my changes. If you go back through my older posts, I used this approach when making my Kemetic-inspired practice. Recently, I’ve been reading “Jailbreaking the Goddess” by LaSara Firefox, which advocates for making your own gods. Now, I hear and respect the cries of those who wish to keep things “clear” for the sake of labels, and I’m not calling anything about what I’m doing “Kemeticism” or “Wicca” – though its roots lie there. And I do need someplace to begin – something to tie my initial thoughts to while I build and change what I have.

So today, I thought about two things that I’ve always sort of “keep with me” – a personalized cycle of celebrations and something I’ll call “The Gospel of Trees”. The latter is really just a collection of nature-based observations that served a ethical or spiritual lesson at the time I came to them. The former is a mash up of my Kemetic practices and the observing of the seasons that initially attracted me to Wicca. Because my Kemeticism was always rooted in the Netjeru and then morphed to fit my environment, I thought it more appropriate to start this time around with my environment and morph it to – well, whatever gods I find / make up.

My first step towards this new cycle of celebrations doesn’t have anything other than the 4 seasonal changes and the “midpoints” we find in Wicca – but I’m hoping to add in things like Thanksgiving or Feast days I’ve always enjoyed (for example, I don’t yet want to let go of something similar to the Feast of Wesir).

I’ve also got to admit that I’ve been a consumer of the Atheopagan blog for years now – and that bleeds into this process strongly. I think its safe to say I am a Naturalistic Pagan, and in as much as my gods are simply personifications of the natural world or human psyche I think it is safe to call me an Atheopagan – I definitely believe that there is a scientific explanation for all phenomena, even if we haven’t found it yet. I think I will always have a heart string tied to the “woo”- even while calling it out as such and not engaging 100%. I engage on a less literal level and then to temper the rush of connection and transcendence with reality when its all said and done.  And I definitely stole the name for one of my celebrations from the Atheopagan wheel – High Spring.

Anyway, below is my starting point for this year’s celebrations, and hopefully as the year passes, I can pepper in other meaningful dates or strike what isn’t useful.

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There are a few different elements

Going Within/Internal in the “lower half” of the circle, and Going Outside/External in the upper half. However, I’m still mulling on these – and there is definitely not a clean cut in this theme.

Self on the left side, and Community/Others on the right side. Again, there isn’t a clean cut – community defines self, and vice versa.

The inner circle shows how the light of the sun changes over the course of the time. The icons shows how nature changes in my area, including (roughly) when the “wet” seasons are.

Nov 2 already shows my changing the traditional year – the Cajuns had their own rites for the day, and its also my late grandmother’s birthday. The same can be said of Christmas time (they lit bonfires), but as I’ve never engaged in that particular custom, it didn’t seem quite right.

My love of Tarot shines through in a not-so-linear journey of self-awareness. The words in the circle’s quarters outline that journey, while I have chosen a tarot card for each celebration to mark  what I see as the “theme” (though I am still playing with “Judgement” as a the Fall Equinox’s card as well), But, I tried not to place too much emphasis on gender (which sometimes comes up in Tarot).

Within this journey, the concept of “wholeness” – finding and becoming your whole self – shines through. Also, “rebirth” means both rebirth of the self (rediscovering who you are, changing who you are, or integration parts of your self to be more “whole”) as well as natural rebirth – like the rebirth of the ecosystem or the generational rebirth that happens (e.g., the corn that is “reborn” isn’t the same corn, its the next generation).

 

Why I’m Boycotting Lughnasadh Again

The Allergic Pagan

I remember when I was in high school and Indiana changed its license plate to include the phrase “Amber Waves of Grain”.  It pissed people off.  I mean, really pissed people off.  Because in Indiana, we grow corn and soybeans, not wheat.  While technically corn is a grain, it’s not amber.  While the phrase was poetic, it just did not speak of “home” to the people of the Hoosier State.  That’s kind of how I feel about Lughnasadh.

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A Mut Point: Redefining Family and Motherhood through the Goddess

REBLOGGED fro Queer Creatures: After hours staring at the computer screen, all that my agonizing has produced is another blank page. The Queer Deities Project has been on my mind for a while. I want it to be perfect. I want it t…

Source: A Mut Point: Redefining Family and Motherhood through the Goddess

Set and Aset: Epagomenal Days 3 & 4

This post will have to be short, but suffice it to say:

Set’s day was one of finding my passion in my work once more, while realizing the things I would have to cut out or away in order to succeed.

Aset is a determined, disciplined Queen who helps the world move through successions. I will need to be determined as ever if I’m to get through the next 6 months. I’ll also need some healing…no sacrifice, cutting away, and intense passion comes without a drain in energy.

This day, Aset’s birthday, felt very special to me. She was the first Netjeru that came to me, and my relationship with her has changed over the year. It is now at its most complex, but also at, what I think, is its most genuine. I see her in myself, in strong women, in rain, and in green plants. Maker of Kings, may we all become Kings.

Dua Aset! Dua Set!

The Birth of Wesir: Epogomenal Day 2 + Lammas

If yesterday’s theme was that of confidence, strategy, and diplomacy, today’s theme, for me, was that of sacrifice.

Today is also Lammas, and I did something of a slight “combo” – capitalizing on Wesir’s role as Lord of Grain to celebrate Wesir’s birth and Lammas together. It was a little odd to celebrate his birth on one hand while acknowledging the fact that he dies and is established as King in the Duat eventually in the same day…but for this moment in my life, it works. Especially given the fact that in my neck of the woods, it still is and feels very much like late summer. Its unfathomably hot and humid. Everything is crazy green…but my cucumbers are coming along swell, and other people have already harvested plenty of tomatoes. Its the peak of life for many critters and plants, and the harvests have been arriving for a while in this temperate zone.

But, the days are shortening, and the summer fruits will soon give way to their autumnal cousins. Wesir is the certainly the god of life, but there’s also a foreboding reminder playing in the background…the memory that life and death are cycles, not static states. The process of one giving way to the other. The promise of bread in a field of ripening wheat. 

I am a few months away from a huge comprehensive exam, one that requires memories numerous citations and article summaries in order to create a handful of essays over the span of 6, 8-hour days. If Heru-Wer pressed me to believe in my ability to do it, Wesir pressed me to sacrifice. Specifically, the sacrifice in my time (and, honestly, at least a little bit if not more of my well-being) and efforts to studying is due. On top of everything else I have, I am to spend about 5 hours a day, each day, until mid-November studying for this exam. Its a tall order on top of a 40+ hour work week, but its got to be done.

Year in and year out, as I see it, Wesir sacrifices himself for all of us. Plants and crops are planted, sprout, bloom, and ripen their fruits, simply to sacrifice those fruits, seemingly, to other animals for food, or the ground. But that sacrifice is not for naught, because it perpetuates the species or feeds other species. Wesir was established as King of the Duat, and in the mythology, this meant “a place for the Akhu”. It meant the King (and eventually, anyone else) could live like him. I don’t necessarily believe that verbatim, but the metaphor is endearing – the old gives birth to the new; without sacrifice, little survives.

O Wesir, you who sacrifice for others, teach me to sacrifice for myself.

The (Re)Birth of Heru-Wer: Epogomenal Day 1

My Epogomenal Days have started (I’m celebrating Wep Ronpet on August 5th). Today, I learned a bit more about this Netjer, and how I personally allow myself to “tweak” the gods to fit my own time and space in the universe. *UPG ahead, folks*

I’ve had a great experience with Heru-Wer. Traditionally, I’ve seen Him as the forces of victory, confidence, power, justice, and the sky. But today, I tried something new. I felt the “push” to see Him even more as the sky, as well as diplomacy, a uniter, ambition, and a clever and cunning planner/strategist/thinker. When He arrived in ritual, these were the feelings, thoughts, and wisdom that were shared. I think the role of “uniting/conquering with diplomacy, strategy, and peace” rings particularly true because this is what our society needs most right now (particularly with the systemic racism, unjust justice system, instances of police brutality, the murdering of police, and the general misunderstanding and fear of one another that occurs in general in society). So today, I came to see Heru-Wer as a force to be reckoned with, one of great brute strength and power, but also a Name who knows this type of conquering has a time and place. I came to see him as  a Name of diplomacy, of talking it out, of listening, of understanding, of using wisdom and enlightenment to forward peace and unity. I came to know him as a Name of solidarity, of fraternity, of harmony. I came to know him as a Name of confidence, ambition, will, and discipline. I came to know him as the Uniter of Lands.

Heru-Wer is without a doubt a strong and fierce warrior, but his strength is not limited to the battle ax or the chariot or the sword. If anything, I think I’ve come upon the conception of this King as one who saves these things for when they are needed and first relies upon his brain and words (and the brain and words of others) to pave the path to victory. We’ve already tried brute strength and violence to solve our problems. Sure, sometimes this is the answer…but I don’t think that’s the answer right now.

The sky is limitless, open, and rests above us all…no matter who or what we are, the same sky blankets us. Heru-Wer is the day time sky…the one we all rest beneath, the atmosphere that protects us all from solar flares, the sky that gives us breath and beauty alike – each of us, without exception. We share the earth, whether we want to or not.

I know this isn’t traditional, but I am also of the mind set that (1) the Netjeru can change over time; while the core of what they are remains stable, the fringe can morph…mainly because our understanding morphs. Heru-Wer is primarily a Netjer of victory, kingship, and power to me – a uniter of people. This core is the same, but the understanding has shifted. In ritual, when he comes to me, he is a strong and confident force, but it is tempered with eloquence, logic, and inspiration. (2) The Netjeru can bring us what we need. I feel, right now, in the US, we don’t need war or a great conquerer. We need understanding and boldness without fear. More than anything, we need to cast away our unhealthy relationships with power. (3) I don’t see the Netjeru as “big men and women in the sky” so much as they are forces in the universe/the universe itself. In ritual, they come to me as “people in the sky”, but I feel they are more than this, and that this perception is based on the capacity/attempt of my mind to grasp certain things. These forces speak to me in this manner during ritual – its how I connect to them. Because of the belief that the Netjeru are the forces of and the actual universe itself combined with the ways in which I perceive those forces, I feel free to allow these new, nontraditional associations to become incorporated into my path, especially when I feel they better serve to provide wisdom in our current situations.

Dua O Distant One, King of the Sky, Uniter of Lands! Here is the prayer I wrote during my rite today.

Distant Hawk with bright eyes
who feathers are mottled with cloud and wind
who scales the heights of the airy dome above us
who rests beneath his mother, Nut
Whose wings cover the Earth, from horizon to horizon, and cast a mantle of blue
and white over his father
Eldest of the Five, King of the Sky, You are victorious in all your battles
ambitious and unstoppable, but peaceful enough to unit all people
Your eyes are alight with glory and cunning
what you will is done, Eternal Victor
The heights of your ambitions and ideas pierce the blue above
You bring together what was apart
You join all men in solidarity and seat them at the table of fraternity and peace
O Netjer of unmovable strength and power
Whose discipline and tenacity is a steady gale
whose diplomacy is sweet
who fixates on goals and achieves
I sing to you, O Distant One!
Just King!
I laud your praises, Heru-Wer,
God of the Wild Blue Yonder,
Lord of Heaven
He of Dappled Plummage
Uniter who brings society together

 

On Nut and Geb’s Pain

worshiping the sun

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In order for there to be life, in order for there to be space on Earth for life to be, Nut, the sky, was ripped away from her husband Geb, the earth. She is held in place above us by her father and mother, Shu and Tefnut. But despite this, Nut struggles to get back to her husband; she struggles so hard that her mother is sometimes brought to tears.

Nut is the mother of the netjeru; of Ausir, Sutekh, Heru, Aset, and Nebhet. Because she was cursed by Re, she carried them long past her due date, suffering until Djehuty finally found a way to relieve her pain. Even then, her pain still wasn’t over; Sutekh himself was said to claw his way out of her.

Nut’s separation from Geb, and the pain that she subsequently felt due to it, is something that I think about every time I see the…

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We are the Pharaoh, we uphold Ma’at

This is an interesting article about how we are all, each of us, a King. I found it when VeggieWolf reblogged it on her blog.You can read the article for further details, but I thought I’d connect it to my own thoughts. Go ahead. Go read it. I’ll wait. Here’s the link to the original post: Hills of the Horizon: A Defense of Sacred Kingship

So, as someone who works with Aset, one of whose epithets is “Maker of Kings”, I share many sentiments within this article. I do feel that, as moderns, using the King/Pharaoh as a symbol for what any of us can be in reaching our potential is apt. As the King /Pharaoh was, at least according to what the state material would tell us, literally Ra/Heru on earth, so can we also be Ra/Heru on earth. The Netjeru are as much us as they are the world about us. For me, Aset is one who can help you to plunge the depths of your mind and development, discover your desires and demons and strengths and weaknesses, and mold you into the Pharaoh you can become.

As much as the King/Pharaoh was responsible for upholding Ma’at, so are we responsible for upholding Ma’at. The King/Pharaoh works through us; we can all become Kings/Pharaohs when we uphold Ma’at and strive for our potential (I’ve read that even the ancients eventually democratized the afterlife, allowing all people to access eternity after death. I think its an interesting idea to extent the other perks and responsibilities as well). This article focuses on social justice, but there are other aspects of Ma’at as well (well, in my version of Ma’at. YMMV, of course 😀 ). There is “personal Ma’at”, which is akin to learning to accept and understand your inner “demons” or “shadow”, learning your strengths and weaknesses, learning who you are, what you want to be, and how to get there, learning to be disciplined but also self-compassionate, and striving to be contented and “successful”, however you define those things. There is also “ecological Ma’at”, which entails doing your part to either help the environment/world you live in or avoid doing harm. I’m sure there are many other forms/versions of Ma’at…things that are “orderly” or most beneficial for all persons. But in any arena, while we usually aren’t entirely responsible for the outcome of whether Ma’at is established/upheld, we are connected enough to the world about us to have an influence.

In short, we can all “bloom”. We all affect the world around us. We are one way the gods can uphold Ma’at in this world, because the gods are within and around us. In a sense, as the Pharaoh was seen as a Netjer, so are we Netjeru.

I am very much reminded of part of St. Teresa of Avila’s poem, “Christ Has No Body”.

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Intuitive Understanding and “Divination”

Atheopaganism

I read Tarot cards. Not as much as I used to, but I still do it.

I don’t think of it as “fortune telling”. I think of the Tarot as a magnificently complex set of symbols from which I randomly choose, creating therefrom a narrative which draws up my intuitive understanding of a situation or question and illuminates it in complex, interesting and often surprising ways. In a way, Tarot is like a Rorschach test, only with much richer set of available symbols and a long history of interpretation and lore.

Besides, it’s really, really cool. Tarot by candlelight, with a bit of incense? You won’t feel much witchier than that, short of dancing naked around a fire.

In the Atheist community, I see a lot of hyperfocus on rationality, and discounting of intuitive thinking (and of emotion, generally). What cannot be logically explained is often dismissed entirely, to a fault…

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Reblog: How the Present Changes the Past

For whatever reason, I can’t reblog this, so I’ll put the link here and you can check it out.

Nimue Brown discusses briefly how the meanings we attribute to graves can send our biases to the past. An interesting thought experiment. What are your opinions? Is there credit to questioning the meanings we assign to objects found with bodies in graves and the inferences we make from them? Is it more relevant in some cultures (from which we have more information from the mouth of the culture itself via art or writing) than others?

https://druidlife.wordpress.com/2016/04/29/how-the-present-changes-the-past/

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