The Call To Serve

(Revised slightly and reposted PBP post for this week, because I felt it was Relevant To Your Interests. And to this blog, ngl. Apologies in advance if you get two notifications of this one.)

I don’t think I’ve done much on this topic, now that I think about it. I feel like I’ve skirted around it, or not really mentioned it. Sobek did wait six years for me to finally figure out that’s what He was asking me to do, though. Perhaps it deserves more of a contemplation.

…Ohwait. I did talk about priesting, but that was on my private blog, rather than my public one. WELL THERE YOU GO THEN. Maybe it is time to talk about it publicly then.

Looking back on it, in some ways, it feels like it was never going to be any other way. I can look back and see where He was leading me all along, but hindsight is good at that. I didn’t really see any of this while it was happening. Perhaps I secretly picked up His signals all along, but it didn’t really consciously understand them until recently. I don’t really know.

I’ve been around Pagan circles on the Interwebs since 2001, when, as a baby Pagan, I stumbled across MysticWicks, and found a place to talk to actual other Pagan people omg. I live in a very isolated city, and I honestly only know two other Pagans in this entire place. So I’ve never had any sense I’d be anything other than a solitary practitioner. There’s just no one else, and by now, my path is unique enough that I think I would have a lot of trouble finding another person I was compatible enough with anyway, so being solitary is just what I am, and probably how I’ll always be.

I did work with Isis first, for a while, and Djehuty, until I finally ran into Sobek, and suddenly He was the main God in my life. But while there were plenty of Isian Pagans, finding Sobek devotees was next to impossible. I set up the very first iteration of Per Sebek in 2004 because I didn’t think anyone else would bother, and I wanted a central place where I could pull together all the information I had about Sobek so those who came after me didn’t have to do half the legwork I had to do.

I find that a strange way to think, given some of the discussions going around my Kemetic circles lately about making our rituals and research available, to make more available for beginners and to share and collate our work for the benefit of others. I find it odd that I’ve thought this way for quite some time, though I must admit I haven’t been confident enough, or been in any real position, to share anything until now.

I’d never really associated my desire to do this with a priestly call. I’ve grown up as a pastor’s kid, and when you grow up as a pastor’s kid, you get a first-hand look at just what it means to serve as a priest that most people don’t get to see. It gave me a firm understanding that priesting was a full-time committment, and not something to undertake lightly. And, yes, there may be some significant differences between Christian ministry and Kemetic or even Pagan ministry, but it is still a big committment, and for many years, I just wasn’t ready to think about that.

I think when you grow up with one idea of what a priest does, it takes a lot to shift that and find a different way of seeing things. In some ways, I don’t really blame myself for taking so long to get to where I am now, because I spent so long in Pagan and Kemetic circles where the most visible kinds of priests were not what I ever saw myself doing. Even within Kemetic Orthodoxy, where I knew there was a range of priestly roles and functions, most of them weren’t visible. The priests you did see were the ones tending open statues in state shrines, just like high priests. And I don’t say this as a criticism, either. It’s just how it was, and that affects how you think about Kemetic priesthood when you spend six years seeing just that, and not knowing there were other ways of doing things.

I felt like I was the only one who would do Sobek things. I remember thinking once, that if anyone was going to be His priest, it’d probably be me. I’ve had this weird attitude for a long time regarding this where I’ve somehow known, or assumed, that no one would do these things if I didn’t do them, so I’d better just get down and do it, or it’ll never get done. And I honestly didn’t connect that with any kind of call to serve for a very long time. The two things just did not connect, as far as I was concerned.

I always had a strange draw to Djehuty, and to being a scribe. I’ve been writing since I was 12. It’s the thing I do best. Writing is my gift, how I show my devotion, how I work out things. It’s what I do. But, like priesting, I rarely saw any sign that what I did was what other people did. I mean, people would write prayers and hymns, and I’d never suggest those are in any way inferior or what have you, but I never saw many people writing prose or even fiction. A few isolated rewrites of myths, but it was never a central devotional practice for them like it is for me. No, most of the devotional creative work was artistic or musical, and I felt hopelessly inadequate and too shy to share what I had done because I felt no one would be interested. I would do my own art, and share that, because that seemed to be wanted, but my writings were kept more private, because, well, who would want to read my words about Sobek? No one works with Him. So few of us know Him well who were also in the same place that it seemed pointless.

Nothing invoked my insecure writer syndrome like that did. I still feel that now, even though I’m more secure in my own practices and devotions than I was back then. I write. I am Sobek’s scribe. I am a scribe of His House of Life, and I tell His stories. That’s what I do. And even I know that being called to serve in that kind of role is not one I see very frequently amongst Pagans. It is not something that immediately reads as ‘priest’ either, which might be why it took me so long to make that connection.

But Sobek is a patient bastard, and He knows how to wait. He doesn’t nag or command; He suggests things, and leaves them with me. I don’t think I’d have answered His call to serve Him if it had been done any other way. I mean, I always knew there were different types of priests, but lacking modern role models for them, I never really understood that it was entirely possible to serve a God in a priestly capacity that didn’t involve tending open statues in state shrines. Because that’s the default model in many Kemetic circles, and while I am sure those who do serve in this capacity are probably quite happy to do so, it’s not something that has ever appealed to me.

I read back on all that and I feel like I am whining, or making it seem like I was somehow suppressed, or at least felt ignored or excluded, but I think that might be reading too much into it. I don’t really think it was like that at all. I don’t think there was some sekrit plot to pressure me into not sharing my work. I just think I wasn’t brave enough, and I didn’t want to be seen to be doing something different. It’s easier to do that as a solitary, because you are your own master, so to speak. But when you belong to a group, particularly an orthopraxic one, it changes things. There’s a certain sense of peer pressure in any group, I think, and sometimes, yeah, it made me hold back when perhaps I should’ve spoken up.

I also think part of it was the fact that, while I was Kemetic Orthodox, I went through some quite significant … initiations, for lack of a better description. Djehuty revealing the Celestial Twins UPG was probably the biggest. But there were other ones too, smaller, and I found myself moving away from the group I was in. I honestly didn’t know why at the time. When I left Kemetic Orthodoxy, all I knew was that there were things for me to learn that I couldn’t do while I was still a shemsu, even if I didn’t know what those things were. My beliefs and practice had changed so much they were now incompatible with the faith that had nurtured me for six years.

I never connected it with priesting. I honestly never thought that’s where I was being led. Even now, I feel weird referring to myself as a priest, because I still have that image in my head of statue-tending, even though scribing and magicianing are legit forms of priestly duty. It might be a while until I can clear that shit out of my head, and come to accept this as priesting.

I think part of it is that I feel like my relationship with Sobek is completely different to what other Pagan priests deal with. It’s all very laid back, and it’s almost like we’re out wandering, and we don’t know where we’re going, but we’ll enjoy the journey anyway. Sobek’s not commanding with me. He never tells me what to do. His influence is subtle and generally wordless, and even though I am aware of His guiding hand, I never feel like I’m out of control. Everything is a suggestion. We negotiate quite a lot. Maybe it’s just that other people don’t talk about this if it happens to them, or maybe I’m just a rare breed who has this kind of relationship, but either way, I sometimes feel like … I’m not devoted enough? If that’s the right way to word it?

I still feel intimidated by the titles Sobek gave me a while back. Only hem-netjer and scribe are public; the rest are private, at this stage. It took me a while to figure out He wasn’t giving them to me as if I’d just earnt them, but He was finally telling me what it was He wanted me to do to serve Him. He was giving me a job description. And that clarified a fuckload of things for me in a way that hadn’t been particularly clear before. Knowing what I am being asked to do, and what I will become, that helps me move forward, because I know what I’m meant to be working towards.

That, and some of them are quite heavy titles to bear, and I don’t honestly feel ready to embrace them. I haven’t earnt the right to call myself with them yet. That will come in time, yes, but right now, they feel very heavy. There’s a part of me that’s also aware of misrepresenting myself, as well, and I feel like it would be disingenuous to use them publicly when I haven’t earnt them. But then, I wasn’t given them as a reward; they were a job description. There’s no … I feel no prestige in bearing them. I would feel incredibly awkward if I revealed them and someone felt I was somehow … more than I was. Like I said, I don’t like misrepresenting myself.

Sometimes, I look at them and I feel like I’m the last person who could ever be called by that title one day. How can a slacker Pagan like me, who is more grounded in the mundane than the spiritual, own those titles? I don’t feel like they’re mine yet. Maybe one day, I’ll feel better about that, but right now, I’m figuring out what it is I need to do to earn them, even if it takes me ten years.

IDK. I think much of this entry is an excellent example of me overthinking things and being probably a little too hard on myself. Having an image in my head of what this seems to be, given other experiences, and finding it lacking in my own experience. When you’re trying to figure all your shit out, that kind of dissonance is really not very helpful at all. You second-guess everything. You try not to get too obsessed with comparing notes, but sometimes, all you want is for someone, anyone, who can say they’ve had the same experience as you have. You don’t want to feel alone.

But I’m getting better at handling that. I feel more secure with my practices and my relationship with Sobek. I can only walk my own path, and if that’s different to everyone else’s, so be it. I trust Sobek. If this is what He wants, then I’ll do my best to make it happen.

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2 comments on “The Call To Serve

  1. shezep says:

    Sobek and I are getting to know each other a bit more these days. He doesn’t seem to have as much of a foothold in modern consciousness as some of the others, so, as one of my beloveds, I’ve had to make a bit of an effort to get to know him. I’ve been working on digging a fish pond in the back yard in his honor. I think it’s great that he has someone to write for him!

    • Sashataakheru says:

      Yeah, Sobek can be quite irritatingly quiet and subtle, but He is wonderful to know. I’m sure He’ll love the fish pond. ❤

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