S is for Sobek, Heru-sa-Aset, Priesting, and Other Stuff

I’m sure you’re all very surprised that one of my S topics is SOBEK, Crocodile God of All Things Awesome. 😀 I mean, I started up Per Sebek in His honour eight years ago, and it’s still going, even though the host and format has changed. He wasn’t the first God I worshipped, but one of the first, and as my Father, He holds a special place above all the other Gods in my life.

I’m going to try not to repeat myself here, because I feel like I’ve tl;dr’d myself to death about Sobek and my experiences with Him. I’m also not going to go into a factual history of Him either as I’ve got that covered elsewhere on the site. Which did leave me somewhat bereft of things to talk about. But I suspect this entry would be very different had I written it all a week ago. Now, it’s all changed. Because Sobek is a bastard.

So, instead of a plain old boring entry on Sobek, I’m probably going to ramble on about Sobek and priesting for Him and all manner of other assorted things. Which seems a little aimless, but I do have a point to make, even if this isn’t as particularly as specific as some of my other posts. Then again, last week’s started as an idea about ritual and then just rambled on about God Clans until I finally figured out what my point was, but anyway.

That, and I kind of feel like I need to talk about this at some point, and I have all these Thinky Thoughts about this and what it all means. I’ve been writing about it in my private WP blog, but I think I’ve taken these thoughts as far as that will go, and they are in need of an audience. I feel like now is probably not a bad time to try to articulate the kind of relationship I have with Him, since it’s kind of changed (in a way) and I kind of feel a need to talk about it.

Firstly, for anyone who’s interested, after last week’s rambly post, I’ve settled on the term ‘God Clan’ to refer to the collection of Gods interested in my spiritual development. So that’s something. I wanted a way to include not just Gods with a familial type of relationship, but also Gods like Amun and Wesir, and Ganesha and Hekate and Apollo and the Mousai, who are still important, but don’t have familial type relationships with me. So ‘God Clan’ it is, and Sobek is the head of it.

For a long time, it was just about me as Sobek’s kid. I was just a worshipper, and He was my Dad, and that’s all there was to it. It was simple, and uncomplicated, and I was happy with that. I was a shemsu, and I was happy. Part of this time was spent still figuring out what my path was, so I can’t really blame myself for not getting around to thinking about service to Sobek and how He might really want me to serve Him back then. It was kind of on the edges of my mind? But not really something I paid any attention to. I was still learning how to practice Kemetic religion in the first place, and finding where I belonged.

But added to that was the fact that I always avoided thinking about the priesting question, that I was being called to serve Sobek as His priest. I’m aware enough of my progress to know that I was avoiding it. I’ve grown up surrounded by ordained Christian clergy in my immediate and extended family (particularly on my dad’s side), so I’ve always known the kind of responsibility that comes with accepting the job of priest. I never really felt like that was for me, so I ran away from it and avoided it. I’m the third or fourth generation (on my dad’s side at least) to be called to priestly duties, I just didn’t want to address that question. It was a big responsibility to accept, and I just wasn’t prepared to face it. It wasn’t for me. I wasn’t the Christian, anyway. That was for my brother, not me.

I’d also been around enough Pagan circles online to tire of the Wiccan idea that everyone is a priest/ess, without much of the responsibility that title carries with it. Growing up as I did, knowing how much work it took to be a priest, I just felt like it was a meaningless exercise. The title was thrown about so carelessly as if it didn’t matter. And to me, it did matter. Because a priest wasn’t just a title to me. It’s not just something you are, it’s something you do. Which is why I sometimes refer to it as priesting, because it implies the work that goes along with being a priest.

It’s taken a long time to get to the point where I really understand that there’s more than one way to priest, and I’m not called to the more traditional styles. As I’ve been building this new path, I’ve had to try to think about my place in it, and what’s expected of me. Then Sobek pretty much forced me to properly think about the priest question, and I’ve finally had to face the scary prospect that I really am the third or forth generation to be called to religious service. It’s like it’s in the blood, and I’ve been trying to avoid that for far too long. (Interestingly, teachers are also numerous in my family tree, so. Make of that what you will.)

What’s been odd, though, is that in thinking of myself as Sobek’s priest, and Heru-sa’s Magician, is that I finally feel like … some sort of shield has been removed between me and Heru. I finally feel like it’s all there now, and that Heru-sa isn’t just out of my reach. It’s like I needed to accept Sobek’s calling in order to finally get that connection to Heru-sa. Which makes me feel like a bit of an idiot, but there you go. Have I mentioned yet that I’m a bit dense when it comes to Godstuff?

I’ve been doing my new daily rites for about six days now, and while they’ve definitely got the feel of Temple rites, the invocation of Hestia at the beginning grounds them at home. These are home rites, in a home temple, and they serve a different purpose to ones I might do in a temple if I was tending to an Open statue. After about the second day, I also began standing off to the right side when I was reciting the prayers, rather than facing the shrine directly, and even I wasn’t blind to the realisation that I was acting more like a lector priest who reads the liturgy than a high priest who tends the open statue. (It was also because more light to read by omg. But mostly the lectoring aspect. My grimoire is awesome to hold like that; I’ve got my rites in there, and holding it before me with both hands and reading from it? AWESOME FEELING.)

Perhaps one day I’ll meet the high priest to my lectoring, or I’ll be called upon to do statue-tending myself, but Sobek isn’t really insisting on that for me. Open statues are for other people, not me. Besides which, I have no capacity to even set up a proper shrine for such a statue, nor would it even feel… right to separate out Sobek from the rest of my Gods, so I’m not worrying about that.

(The lector priest angle is kind of related to some of the things Sobek’s asked me to think about, because lector priests and magic books and scriptoriums and whatnot.)

It’s weird it’s got to this stage, because even though I was always adamant I wasn’t called to be a (Temple) priest, Sobek would always remind me, in His soft, unassuming sort of way, that if anyone was going to be His priest, it was going to be me. I always scoffed at this, like He was just joking. No way was I going to be a priest. That wasn’t for me. I know I have a tendency to do things no one else will bother doing, but I didn’t think being a priest for Sobek was one of those things.

It took me a long time to shift my conception of what a priest did away from just tending an Open statue and doing that kind of priesting with the State rites and tending to the statue as if it were alive. The kind of priesting I see pretty much every Kemetic recon talk about, as if it was the only kind. Anything not involving an open statue and taking care of it every day just isn’t doing it right, at least, that’s the feeling I get when I’ve seen the topic come up. But in some ways, I can’t really blame them for thinking that, when pretty much all the information on priesting is about the Temple cult. So that’s all that gets talked about.

That emphasis on the Temple cult seriously put me off the idea of becoming a Kemetic priest, particularly when I was Kemetic Orthodox. The idea of tending a State shrine with an Open statue just did not appeal to me, but it was pretty much the main form of priesthood I saw anyone within Kemetic Orthodoxy talk about. (That, and having to travel to Tawy in America if I wanted to undergo any priestly rites within that religion was impossible for me, so it was never a viable option anyway.)

Another part of this reluctance to answer the priest question was that, since about 2007, Heru-sa-Aset has been keen for me to be His magician. He said I should be a sau-magician. And, truthfully, I was happy to oblige. I like magic. I saw no issue with that. Even if I did hesitate to be part of the Sau magician course Hemet was teaching before it got shut down and I lost my chance. But it was something I was happy to do. But being Sobek’s priest? Not for me. I didn’t want to think about that. Priesting meant responsibilities I didn’t feel ready to accept.

Language is part of the problem. Because in English, priest and magician are different things, but Sobek and Heru-sa probably aren’t using the same definitions I’ve got in my head. Because I finally got around to reading Ritner’s dissertation, Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magic’, that’s been sitting around on my thumb drive for months, as it’s the only book on heka I have at the moment. To the ancient Egyptians, priest and magician were the same damn thing. Priest was magician was priest. Reciting the religious rites WAS Heka, and even though I knew that, it wasn’t until recently that I really understood what that actually meant. When I’m standing at shrine, reciting the prayers, it’s not just devotional stuff, it’s frikkin’ MAGIC. Heka. It was reciting Heka and I didn’t even realise it. Because I am dense.

It’s only in the past few days that I’ve finally accepted that this is what Sobek wants from me, to priest for Him. He’s given me some titles/roles to think about and meditate on, though I won’t share them (yet?) as I don’t feel I really want to reveal that information at this stage. They weren’t given to me in the sense of ‘this is what you are/this is something you’ve earnt’, but more of a starting point and a ‘this is what you will become’ kind of intention, like figuring out the secrets of your Shemsu name, for any Kemetic Orthodox reading this. I’m kind of staring at them, and my reaction is pretty much, ‘…Ohshi-‘. Because omg what Heru-sa meant by Sau magician wasn’t what I thought it meant. He wants me to make amulets. Which is freaking me out because omg I am so not that talented. D: I can’t just craft them from clay or wood or metal or something. And yet… I doubt it would be asked of me if I didn’t have some capacity to fulfil it. So. o.O /will wait and see. /still freaked out.

Plus, there’s also this little voice at the back of my head that’s reminding me that even though I’ve accepted this is what I’m meant to be doing, that doesn’t automatically mean I should go around proclaiming my priestliness to one and all. I feel I don’t really have any right to do that while I’m still learning and working towards being able to actually act in that role.

The way Hekate’s explained it, is that this year I’m having with Her is all about path-building. Laying foundations that can then be built upon. Strong hints that there’ll be some sort of ‘initiation’ – insomuch as that term is useful in a solitary context – and I’ll somehow ‘graduate’ to Apprentice. After that? Gods only know. I’m assuming I’ll move on when I’m deemed ready. Can’t help feeling like Djehuty’s borrowed my degree system from that Georgian/Regency steampunk thingo. He did ask suggestively, ‘what if that magic system was real?’ So. IDEK. At some point, I’ll feel like I can properly call myself a priest. Magician. Whatever. Until then, I’m just in training.

I’ve put together a magic box at Their behest, because every magician should have a magic box, apparently. I’ve always had a travel altar/magic kit hanging around in a bag, but this has a few different tools in it and it’s in a box (which I need to decorate and properly consecrate). They’ve asked for a cingulum, too, as a way of binding the power of my God Clan together to be channelled for magical use. It has three strands (black, red, and white) for Sobek, Heru-sa, and Aset, and nine knots for the other Gods in my Clan. All are bound together, and I made a black bag for it when it’s not being worn with my white robes and veil/headcovering.

Also, serpent wands. Apparently I need a pair, but not yet. Later on, when I’ve got more of a handle on what to do with them, and can afford to get them made. Until then, I have a left-handed dragon wand I made myself.

They don’t seem to mind accommodating my folk magic practices though, which is nice, if a little more syncretic than perhaps the recons might be happy with. 😉 I mean, my shrine has a censer, pentacle, cauldron, and wand, along with libation bowls and Deity images. Religion and magic are the same thing for me. Which took a while to really sink in. Because I am dense. 😀

…Where was I even going with this? I’ve kind of been interrupted by a concert and now I’ve kind of lost my train of thought. Apart from Sobek is awesome yay? 😀

I don’t know. He’s a very cuddly crocodile, but I mostly invoke His epithet The Rager in my daily rites. I like the reminder that Sobek has that violent side. Heru, too. But it’s all Heka, and that’s apparently what matters.

This is all ridiculously daunting, but I feel more ready to approach it and grow into it than I did a few years ago, so maybe They’re right. Then again, if my Gods aren’t scaring me from time to time, I’d probably be worried. Now to live up to expectations. D: And to go do my evening rite, because I didn’t have time to do it at sunset before I went out this evening. Time to put the Gods to bed.

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4 comments on “S is for Sobek, Heru-sa-Aset, Priesting, and Other Stuff

  1. The call to priesthood (regardless of the ‘type’) is quite daunting indeed and it sounds to me you’re fairing quite well.
    I found quite a few similarities between your experiences and mine, to the point where I freaked out a little. But only a little 🙂
    You say ‘At some point, I’ll feel like I can properly call myself a priest. Magician. Whatever. Until then, I’m just in training.’ That feeling might stick with you a while, even if your Deities will tell you that you CAN call yourself that (probably over and over). I think it’s because you realize the responsibility involved, which is no little thing, and perhaps you won’t feel that you reached that point (even if you have). All I can say is trust your Gods 🙂

    As for the Magician’s box, best of luck with it! (I’m still working on mine, missing an apotropaic wands and a ritual cord still)

    And serpent wands… perhaps something like these: http://fyrekat.livejournal.com/84213.html ?

    P.S. I don’t know if you have read Sauneron’s ‘The Priests of Ancient Egypt’, it’s worth the time to read! (I’m actually re-reading mine). You might find some spiffy stuff in there to help you out in your studies and practice.

    • Sashataakheru says:

      Yeah, it’s quite daunting, but I feel more prepared to face it now than I would’ve done a few years back. And, hey, knowing someone else has gone through some of the same things makes me feel better.

      Well, when you grow up with a paternal grandfather and both parents being ministers, well, you kind of get a feel for the epic task involved in being a priest, and that sticks with you. It’s not something to be taken lightly. But I do Trust them. It’s part of my faith, trusting that They know what They’re doing.

      I need me some knives, and yeah, the serpent wands, and probably a few other things. I’m still kind of piecing together a list, particularly as it just has my old magic stuff in it, so it’s a bit more neo-Pagan than Kemetic. The box itself is kind of temporary, too, until I find just the right one.

      Yes, something like those wands! I remember seeing those back when she originally posted about them. I’ll have to see if I can’t find someone who might make them for me. Or teach me how to make them myself. It’s hard being in Australia; the Pagan community is tiny and isolated and scattered. Particularly because I’m so picky about being able to touch ritual things and statues before I buy them. I might have to not insist on that so much if I’m going to get all I need.

      I haven’t read that book, no, but I’ll add it to my list. Sounds like a good read! I could use some good books on Egyptian priests to get me going.

      • I forgot to say this yesterday but the Temple Cult thing is just one aspect of priesthood, and like you, I understand why it’s the main focus in the ‘recon world’. However when you’re close to your Gods and They ask you to become Their priest, there’s a… ok, I don’t know how to best put it into words…. a personal nuance sort to speak. In the sense that you will be asked to perform certain tasks, strictly between your God and you, strictly in Their name. Does that make sense? (like I said, a bit hard to put it in words) And a lot of times you’ll want to share all that with others and you’ll find yourself prevented to. Not to be ‘mysterious’ but at times it gets so intensely personal that it will not be anyone else’s business to know.
        And please don’t worry too much about incorporating other things into your practice. I can say I’m as eclectic as it gets and I’ve never got a raised eye-brow from Them yet =) Once your foundations are solid, you will see the Force behind it all is the same, no matter the name we give it or the techniques we employ to tap into it 😉
        Definitely get a hold of that book though, you won’t regret reading it!

        • Sashataakheru says:

          I totally get the appeal of the Temple cult to most recons too, and I have no quibble for those who are called to that kind of service. But I do agree that it’s very hard to conceptualise any sort of priestly community within the Kemetic community when it’s so fractured and diverse, so in some ways, you’ve almost got to think about priesthood in a new way to take that into account, particularly as a solitary.

          It’s definitely a unique calling to everyone who gets it, and we’re all asked to do different things with our service. And, yeah, there are totally things I’m not allowed to talk about, like the titles They’ve given me to think about, and other information that’s not generic enough to talk to the wider public about. But then again, this is why I’ve got a private WP blog, so I’ve still got somewhere to write about these things, without necessarily telling the whole world. It’s dedicated to Hekate, and She takes care of those secrets. But I’m pretty good at knowing when to talk and when to keep silent, so it’s something I’m already used to. This isn’t going to change that.

          The way I see it, I’m just multi-skilling in the magical sense. 😉 And, yeah, I’m pretty sure there’s not a lot of difference between what makes both magical systems work. It’s all how you do it, I think. Whether you circle or chant or invoke demons or whatever else you might do to make your spell work.

          *dutifully adds book to Amazon wishlist* Looks good. Thanks for the rec! I’ll buy it when I’ve got some spare cash.

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