R is for Rebuilding A Syncretic Path

I feel like I haven’t particularly talked about this topic at any great length yet, so in lieu of a post on ritual, this is what’s on my mind lately. Well. I did cover some of this in my Crossroads post, but that was back in, what, Feburary? A helluva lot has happened since then, let me tell you.

I’ve rebuilt my path a few times since I became pagan at 16. I think I’m always going to have something of an eclectic streak, but it’s not as great as it once was, and I sometimes think I was just going through a period of intense experimentation as I tried lots of things to see what worked and what resonated with me. At the same time, though, I’m not sure if I had much of a choice in it, because of how one thing has necessarily led to another and it hasn’t always made sense until after the journey’s been completed. I think it’s always been some sort of syncretic though, in its own sort of way. But not as syncretic as this current path is. This is taking syncretism to another level and trying to make a cohesive whole from a whole host of fragmented pieces.

This has certainly been an interesting time. Things are becoming clearer as I forge this path together on my own. I am sometimes aware of Hekate’s guiding hand, but I still don’t feel like I’m ready to present this to Her yet. I know I am doing Her work, in forging this path from what I’ve been given, so in some ways, I don’t feel bad about not doing daily devotions and other ritual forms. I’m still trying things out to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s still Her work, but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.

I’m not following any particular template for this path-building either. I’m just sort of following my nose and seeing where I end up. But getting the daily devotions written out, at least in a (mostly final) draft form has been useful. It feels like a foundation, or the beginnings of one. I tend to approach the path from the daily to the monthly to the yearly. Start small and work out. So most of this will focus on the daily part of my path, if only because that’s kind of mostly what I’ve got at the moment.

I think I mentioned a week or two ago (or I might’ve not, I don’t know) that I was basing my daily devotions on this Greek set of devotions. I looked at the outline and thought, what would a Kemetic rite look like? So instead of Eos and Helios, I have a hymn to Kheper-Ra as the Dawn Sun. Selene, Nyx, the Stars and Dream, are now a hymn to Temu-Ra, the Evening Sun. Indeed, most of the evening rite is pretty much Heliopolitan, reciting prayers and hymns to ensure Ra rises safely and is protected from the serpent. I have all the candles lit at the beginning of the evening rite, and extinguish them one by one to represent the shrinking daylight. It’s weirdly powerful to do, particularly at night.

There are other things I’ve added, like offering henu and removing the foot, and a different set of libations (I pour to Hestia, Ma’at, Wepwawet, the Ancestors, and my personal Gods), though I kept the hymn to Hestia, because I feel I ought to honour Her, since She kind of owns our new hearth. I also kept the hymn to Sleep, because I think it’s rather pretty. (I’m using the 1792 translation of the Orphic Hymns linked to in the Greek devotions. No, my brain has not left that time period yet. Halp.)

It took me longer than I thought to get any sort of daily devotional rite together. I knew it wasn’t going to be anything remotely priestly, because I ain’t a priest. The way I see it, a priest needs a community to serve, and I ain’t got one of those, so I won’t worry myself with trying to recreate or keep myself to the State rites. I’d rather concentrate on the more personal side of things. So while I do ‘awaken’ my Gods in greeting in the morning rite, it’s not really a Priestly thing. It’s more a ‘good morning’ sort of thing. I awaken Ra, too.

They are rites perfectly tailored to my particular path and Gods, though. I wouldn’t suggest this is how every weird Graeco-Kemetic sort should do daily devotions either. It’s my way, but not the only way, and I’d have to modify them if I was going to make them more generic. It’s kind of great if you like Sobek, Aset, and Heru-sa-Aset and don’t mind greeting Them every day, though. 😉 That said, have the basic run-down for each rite:

The Morning Rite
Wash hands, mouth, and face/have shower and dress (I don’t have a bath anymore)
Approach the shrine, offer henu, and unveil
Light lamp or candle
Hymn to Hestia (#84)
(Optional) Light incense
Hymn to Kheper-Ra and light candle
Hymn to Sobek and Heru-sa-Aset and light candle
Hymn to Aset and light candle
Hymns to any Gods in festival
Pour libations to Hestia, Ma’at, Wepwawet, the Ancestors, and personal Gods/patrons
Make offerings, and/or have personal prayer time.
Hymn of Awakening (final awakening prayer to all the Gods)
Extinguish lamp or candle
Remove the foot

The Evening Rite
Wash hands, mouth, and face/have shower and dress
Approach the shrine and offer henu
Light all candles
Hymn to Hestia (#84)
(Optional) Light incense
Hymn to Temu-Ra, and extinguish candle
Hymn to Sobek, and extinguish candle
Hymn to Aset-Nut, and extinguish candle
Hymn to Sleep (#85)
Pour libations to Hestia, Ma’at, Wepwawet, the Ancestors, and personal Gods/patrons
Make offerings, or have personal prayer time.
Hymn of the Descent into Nut (Like the awakening hymn, but about the descent instead)
Extinguish any remaining candles
Offer henu and veil the shrine
Remove the foot

Other notes:
– I veil my head during both rites, even if I don’t choose robes, but clean street clothes.
– Water libations are disposed of in the garden
– Food offerings are consumed; reversion of offerings is part of my practice. It’s not Greek, but I’m not Greek either. I’m approaching this from a Kemetic perspective, not a Greek one. (WELL. Akhu food offerings are disposed of, but those aren’t substantial, so I don’t mind that.) It also ties in with issues of food scarcity and not wasting good food. I couldn’t bare to throw food offerings away every day once I’d offered them. I’d rather share my food with Them.
– Because incense is a migraine trigger for me if I don’t take care with it, I’m leaving it as optional, depending on how I feel and whether I can ventilate the room properly (i.e. open the window), which is hard to do in winter when it’s cold.

IDK. Maybe no one would do it my way. I still want some sort of nighttime hymn for Heru for the evening rite, but still figuring out the right words to say. A shortened version of these prayers would be simply the hymn to Hestia, the Hymn to Kheper/Temu, and the final prayer, without anything else bar lighting a candle or two.

Aset-Nut is like Wesir-Ra for me, the light/dark duality thingo where Aset is the Eye of Ra, and a solar Goddess, the Female Ra, and Nut is the starry night sky. That’s why it’s to Aset-Nut. She protects the boat during the day and at night.

Also, I think Khepera encouraged the pun on His name. I take no blame for that one.

What took the most time was trying to write hymns for Kheper-Ra and Temu-Ra based on what little I could grasp from the sources I had available to me. I didn’t want them to be inauthentic hymns, even if I composed them myself based on what I could find. I might’ve gone off Budge’s translations, and maybe they’re not entirely accurate, but I’m not entirely worried about that. I just wanted something I could get inspiration from and turn into something better. And shorter, in many cases. I wanted a rite that was no more than about fifteen minutes all up, including personal prayer time and sharing offerings.

That said, I’m still figuring out the timings. When do I do them? What’s best for me and my schedule? That’s the tricky one. It has to be intuitive for me, and seem somehow a natural time for me to be in shrine, but at the same time, not so wild or inflexible I can’t keep to it. So that’s still being experimented with, to see which time is best for me to do these things.

I’m at the point of doing trial runs with the rites, to see what works, and whether I need anything I don’t already have. Like, are the libation bowls I have at the moment working, or should I switch them? How does it sound when I actually recite the whole rite from start to finish? How do the actions all work together? Those sort of things. It’s like doing dress rehearsals. Going through it all beforehand to work out the kinks.

I’m sure you’re bored about hearing about my rites, though. I use my calendar to determine which Gods are in festival and should be honoured. I’ve kind of been gathering prayers from my old KO calendars and ones from other sources, to compile into a big book of prayers/hymns for each God in festival I need. (Well, to write into my little daily prayer book, but whatever. It’s not a publishable book, if that’s what you were thinking though.) I picked up this little leather notebook last weekend at the mediaeval fair we went to down in Balingup, and it’s become my little daily prayer book. A small version of my grimoire I intend to put to practical use, while my grimoire now has more freedom to be more of a journal than a ritual book. Which is good, because it’s big and bulky and hard to use in ritual.

What do I have to do next? Erm, figure out which Greek and/or Roman holidays I want to slip into my calendar. I’m still researching those, because I don’t know them very well. Apart from deipnon/noumenia for Hekate every dark moon, I’m still figuring that out. I know I need to figure out something for the Muses, since They’ve taken the time to hang about and introduce themselves, and I’d maybe like something for Apollo as well, and maybe Hermes. But this is still work that needs to be done, so I can’t really say what will come of all that yet. I just know it needs to be done. If this is meant to be a syncretic path, I’d better do some syncretising.

More as I figure all this shit out. Over and out. Because it’s nearly 1am and I’m bloody tired. Also, 1842 words, WordPress? Yeah, this is long enough. *signs off*

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