Aset and Set

Fiercely Bright One

Set was the brother of Aset and her siblings Wesir, Nebet Het, and Heru Wer. His parents were Geb and Nut. His wife was Nebet Het and his son by her was Yinepu. His other consorts were Nit, and the Semitic goddesses Anat and Astarte. Sobek, the crocodile god was the son of Nit and Set. Like Nebet Het, Set was associated with “drunkenness, violence and other forms of liminality” (Siuda, 16; footnote 63).

Set was the god of the desert, foreign lands, storms, strength and male sexuality. Set was originally a god of Kingship alongside Heru Wer. As far back as the Pyramid Texts, he is said to have murdered Wesir which allowed Wesir to become King of the Duat.

Set was also the only god who could slay Apep each night on his journey with Ra in the Sun Bark. He was especially venerated in Upper Egypt and…

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Falling of the horse

Sometimes, there is so much going on in life that the simplicity of scheduled routine is the best coping mechanism. Regularity is comforting and stabilizing. Spiritual schedules are a strong anchor in such times.  But lately, its been hard to muster the energy. Of course, faith isn’t the only productive routine that’s fallen by the way side. I haven’t seen a gym or had a go in the kayak in months. But that’s another story for another time.

Its been one thing after another in every sphere of life; when one realm of my reality begins to return to normal, another realm gets thrown off track. Its gotten to the point where I’m so scattered, I’m now making mistakes that create problems. Wonderful.

And piety is fantastic, but prayer, devotion, ritual, and meditation don’t solve anything in and of themselves. They just provide a mental environment conducive to better choices, stronger focus, and a more objective perspective. They feed your ka. They make waiting a little more bearable. There’s so much waiting right now. I hate that.

So why can’t I bring myself to do it? Don’t get me wrong, I’ll sit in the woods and meditate twice a week. I’ll pray informally every day. Every now and again I still light incense and a little water on my shrine. But to do a formal ritual, with flowers and food as offerings and a purifying bath and historical hymns or contemporary prose–I crave it but for some reason I’m just too restless to complete it.

Even now, I’m looking over at my shrine as I write. I’m upset by my neglect; I reprove myself regularly for letting it get to this point, but interestingly enough have failed to take action. I need to wash the little icons, launder the altar cloth, clean the burner, buy fresh candles. And honestly, use it at least once a week again. Things could get out of whack in the past, but my connection to my values and my Netjeru kept me grounded.

It used to be the center of my day, my practice, my routine. Now its peripheral. Its the random offering here and there when the longing or the shame remind me of what I’ve not made time for. There’s incense there still, left unburnt from the week before. Like so many other things, its in limbo. Its lingering, waiting to be used. I hate waiting.

Maybe if I get the center back in order, the rest of the chaos will be more easily managed.

I’m beginning to think I fall off of so many horses because I have crappy saddles. Time for the remount.

Maker of Kings

Not so long ago, a KRT topic came up that I just didn’t have time to write on: Does the concept of Kingship/Pharaoh impact your practice, and if so, how? It impacts my practice, but not in the traditional Kemetic way. Let me explain.

The Pharaoh had a Kingly Ka; one that would retain its “identity” so to speak after death (Naydler). The King was a Netjer on earth, responsible for the ensuring Ma’at in all of Egypt. He was expected to be fair, just, logically minded, compassionate, patient, and, when need be, fierce and fearsome.

I tend to see this as a symbol for what I should become. Perhaps its just the Tarot-reader in me, but I see the “King” in this case as something we should all embody. No, we can’t all command the economic, military, and legal affairs of a nation. But we can control ourselves, and act as a King in each of our lives, acting as an ambassador of Ma’at wherever we go. Even when we fail, as Kings often do, we should rise resilient on our journey and contemplate our failure to ensure future success.

Its at this point the Kemetic in me fades into my larger spirituality, which brought me to Kemeticism but oftentimes reaches out beyond it.

When I look at what a King is in the world of literature, mythology, and archetypes, I picture someone who has sometimes gone through many hardships to gain or keep the right to rule, though it was “destined” to always be that way. Even if the throne was his (or hers) since birth, stories need conflict! (Or in the case of Oedipus, sometimes the fact that its yours by birth brings trouble!)

Ideally, kings are to be beacons of integrity, character, intellect, diplomacy (unless you prefer Machiavellian rulers; but even by this standard, kings are to rise to their potential as a ruler and forge a better country). But they aren’t always…and they can still be good kings. Gilgamesh wasn’t the nicest guy. Alexander the great slaughtered native people in his conquering, sometimes unnecessarily. Frederick Barbarossa wasn’t too cuddly, even with that epic beard, but he did have some military prowess, conquering Italian cities and all.Ghengis Khan was violent and malicious, but he expanded and united his territories (granted you actually consider this good; for the sake of the symbolism it works. I’m an not advocating imperialism, just self-development).  But a good king obviously isn’t limited to how well he can expand and protect his territory; kings should also bring peace to their citizens, ensure that they are provided for, and take care of domestic as well as foreign affairs with agility and knowledge.

Not all leaders do all things perfectly either; one can have expand the country by whole empires while their citizens lack basic human rights. Conversely, a ruler can neglect their boundaries in favor of a happy citizenry or healthy trade relations. A good leader, in theory, balances all of these so that, in the end, his rule is balanced both with his own values and aspirations as well as with the general duties of his office.

And so the call to Kingship is for everyone; we are each to be as much a king as we can be. It is the call to fulfilling your potential. Expanding your own boundaries and ensuring that others respect them. Ambition is as much a part of kingship as altruism. Being a learned person and citizen is as well. Giving back to your community, whether by helping a sick family member, working hard at a career, helping a lost stranger, working on a campaign, or organizing a coat drive, are all ways we can embody kingship, but so is growing your assets, mastering your talents, and making sure you c.y.a. Traditionally, lusting after expertise, discipline, and wisdom are traits of good leaders. Ethics and morality, faith and values should be central as well.  Determination is also key, as is a sense of vision.Odin, King Authur, Ashoka, Hatsheput, Odysseus,Ghengis Khan, Queen Elizabeth, Charlemagne, Konrad AdenauerToyotomi Hideyosh…all have strengths and weaknesses as leaders, and all did great things for their country in some way.

The call to kingship is similar for us. We have a call, despite our shortcomings, to improve ourselves and our world. To bloom our potential. For some, the call may be more communal than for others. Everyone is different, but we can all be a king.

Returning to Kemeticism, I think that a leader is needed in any community. But a leader isn’t a “boss”; one can lead while having no formal power whatsoever and while never once attempting to overthrow establishment. A leader shows you what should be done; they are there with you, taking the first steps into uncharted territory or taking the first few blows.

So, getting back to KRT: this isn’t really a post about religious authority. Do I feel some people have it? Yes, certainly there are others more enlightened than I, and I would be remiss not to heed their advice or solutions. But seeing as my version of Kemeticism is comprised of only me, and seeing as my faith is mine and private, I recognize the king in others as often as I can; but ultimately, I try to become my own king. As such, I take literature written in Ancient Egypt aimed at how kings should behave or what they can achieve and attempt to make it applicable to myself, if possible. Yes, I realize that’s a lot of woo. But its true.

Dua Aset, Maker of Kings

KRT: Take me seriously

Underground Kemeticism: How public are you about your beliefs and practices? How has it (or not) impacted your work life, your familial and friendly ties? What advice would you give to uncertain Kemetics about how to approach either telling or not telling others about their beliefs?

Two words: Privacy and Logic.

I tell very few people.

Only two people know about my religion who are outside of my pagan friend group; one is an ex, with whom I shared 6 years of my life; I didn’t share anything other than the fact that I was a “pagan”. That was all he knew. The other is a dear friend who is both kind, loving, and open minded. People in my “pagan” group know largely because I was very active and an administrator for a local group that worked to educate and network local pagans. So, time and place.

 

The main reason for this is that I am a private person, and I don’t feel its anyone’s business to know my religious beliefs and practices. Secondly, academia has had a profound effect on me. In that sphere, at least the circle which “trained” me, religion of any sort is less than desirable. I feel, sometimes, having a faith makes me more susceptible to irrational thinking (or at least being perceived that way). So, I keep my practices private because I am private, and because I fear not being taken very seriously.

Of course, I know this isn’t true. There are many people who have belief in something that are taken quite seriously, and are respected members of their society. I am not ashamed of what I do; but first impressions are hard to erase. And quite frankly, its my own business anyway. I feel no need to wave it around. If I met another Kemetic, I would share. I am not a recluse; just private.

I don’t mind sharing. I have, in the past. I’m unapologetic when it comes up, open to questioning, and usually do my best to differentiate my practices and beliefs from what others may do (and pointing out the lack of standardization that may or may not exist). But it just doesn’t really come up, 98% of the time.

 

I would ask: Why do you feel the need to share your beliefs? Are you looking for a sense of community? I was, at one point; more to have friends with similar views than anything. I tried to find like minds, and then I shared when it was appropriate. It did me well.

Do you want your family or friends to know “all” of you? The “real” you? This is a common reason people have cited to me when wondering whether or not to come out to their family in situations (sexual orientation, gender, faith, etc.). I would ask-would a situation come up that would warrant explanation, making their knowing easier? Is it that important to you that they know? How much would it complicate the relationship? Is it causing you distress that they don’t know? How would it improve the relationship if they did know?

I think the answers to these questions are good guidelines on how to proceed, but in the end you have to do what will make you the happiest! Many people feel that if someone truly loves you, they accept you no matter what. This is the case-in an unconditional love. Sadly, not everyone loves unconditionally. However, I will say that most people “get over it”. By “it”, I mean most things in general. But there’s a big difference between telling your mother, sister, or best friend and telling your BFF of three weeks or your drinking buddy for the night.

My general approach is to approach who you tell with care, and only share when applicable. Its a part of your identity, but so are lots of things! It depends on how important it is to *you*. I feel, for me personally, that there is a time and place to share details about my orientation, political affiliation, financial conundrums or successes, and religious affiliations. These things are all highly personal, and for *me* are guarded closely.  Of course, others are more open, and there’s no problem with that!! If we all guarded our lives so closely, we might have trouble raising awareness.

 

Which brings up another point: talking about it can be hard, but it does raise awareness and, in time, acceptance. If we wish to live in a tolerant world, sometimes we must give the opportunity for others to be tolerant. If we wish to be free to be ourselves, and we feel that part of that means being open in all respects, then we must be willing to be open if we are willing to make the sacrifices it may entail.

Its only that for me, being free to be me means privacy.

Prayer for Peace

Hail Aset,

Great Queen of overcoming

Single mother in the swamps; Passionate widow,

Avenger of Her Lover, fierce in battle,

Cunning in Her acquisition of power,

Manipulator of obstacles;

Tireless searcher, Screecher, Mourner,

Ambitious in Her aspirations!

Great of Heka,

Calm my heart, slow my shaking

Feed me the milk of Your Ka!

Usher the wind of life into my nose,

Cool the flames within my stomach,

Bring peace and serenity to full harvest in my being

Bathe me in the pure waters of Tayet

that I may be cleansed of excess

and house Ma’at eternally

 

Udja