The Pagan Experience – Week 3 – Deities and The Divine

Deity and the Divine- This will be the third week’s topic every month and an opportunity for you to share with everyone those who guide, inspire and inform you.

First and foremost, I’m a polytheist. I don’t know how many other polytheists are doing TPE, but I’m one, at the very least. I don’t qualify that with hard vs soft polytheism, though, because I don’t find that terminology to be particularly meaningful to the way I experience the gods. The gods are separate, except when They’re not. I also don’t exclude any gods from existence, such as the Abrahamic god(s); sometimes I think ‘omnitheist’, meaning ‘all gods’ is technically more accurate than the ‘many gods’ inherent in polytheism. But that’s more a question of pedantic semantics; polytheism is useful enough for what it needs to mean for me and my practice.

Also, for those who might not be familiar with me and my practice, I am genderqueer, and this filter also affects my polytheism and the faces the gods show to me. Yeah, this does mean the gods tend to be more queer with me than they might otherwise be with someone who isn’t as queer as me, but that’s just how they are with me. I mean, even when I go to meditation to meet my gods, my body is anything from female to ambiguous to male to androgynous/hermaphroditic, and this generally changes depending on which god I’m meeting, so. :D? /on which, more later, probably.

As for the particular gods I am closest to, they would be the Egyptian gods Sobek and Heru-sa-Aset/Horus, son of Isis. I am Their hem-netjer(u), loosely translated as servant of the god(s). I am also scribe and lector priest, insomuch as my lector priesting involves keeping a ritual book, and reading from it for every ritual, even the ones I’ve memorised. I also write myths for my gods, Sobek in particular, and my heka work at the moment involves sigils and written heka. Because scribe! So anyway. Not that I’m very good at heka right now. Heru is on a mission to change that this year. So we’ll see what happens with that.

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Trans* Rite – Day 6

Trans Rite Altar Day 6

Altar after five days of elevation. Today’s rite hasn’t been done yet.

 

I haven’t done today’s prayers yet, but I’ll do them later tonight when, hopefully, the epic. pain. from my uterus will cease enough for me to get through it without feeling like my guts are being stabbed. (The joys of menstruation. -_-) The rite itself has been, well, it’s been going. It’s certainly not ‘fun’ by any stretch of the imagination. It’s pour the water, read the prayers, raise the altar, pray for the dead, even if you’re tired, even if you don’t feel like it, like I did last night. I’ve had no real contact from the ancestors themselves, but I didn’t expect it, since I’m pretty headblind to them like I am with the gods. I can only assume the state of calm that comes over me when I do the rite is a good sign, and keep going. Do the work. Raise the ancestors. That’s the whole point of it. It’s never been about me, anyway.

I’m also postponing today’s rite because I realised last night that I’m going to have to rethink how I’m doing this so I can keep lifting the altar without potentially setting everything alight if I raise it too high. I think the simplest solution might be to just shift the central candle off the main altar and either to the centre or to the side, so I can keep lifting the altar with books without worrying about fire hazards, since the elevation is the most important part of the rite. I might put the snake representing Antinous there instead, so all the god images are together in the middle, and the candle can be off to the left side. Hmm. That might be the best option so I can keep things relatively safe, and still keep raising the altar. The joys of altars in confined spaces, kids! 😀

I also have this solidified idea for a Lamentations of Nit and Set for the Transgendered Dead that I am going to have to write at some point because otherwise I will be Nagged To Death by the gods about it, so. I might aim to have it ready for the last day of the rite, so I have some time to write and edit it and whatnot, so it’s not a rush job. Look for it on/after the 22nd, which will be the ninth day of the trans* rite for me.

Also, to come, long rambly post about gender and Sobek and Hekate and other rambly nonsense, unless, by the time I’ve written it, it feels more suited to my Dreamwidth journal, in which case, it’ll be over there (though probably access-locked, so if you have an account there and want to read it, lemme know). But if this rite, and the past two weeks have done anything, it’s given me many Thinky Thoughts about gender, and transitioning, and the gods (there is a connection here, I promise), and I am going to need to tl;dr it all over the internet at some point, whether it’s here or there, so. That’s a Thing.

Bookbinding, Isis, and Hekate

So, I’ve started making books, because Sobek said a scribe ought to know how to make books. Right now, I’m just concentrating on hardcover coptic stitch journals, but I’ll likely tackle case binding eventually when I am not so intimidated by it.

This is the first one I made; it’s since become my new ritual book, for my monthly festivals at least. I’ve made another A4 sized one with watercolour paper that I plan to use as a devotional art journal, and another A5 one for notes and other things. I’m planning to make a bunch of 4inx4in ones as presents for our midwinter feast next month. Everything’s been cut out, it all just needs to be assembled. I’m also going to get dad to help me put together a book press, and Sobek wants hieroglyphs on it, so. Part of my scribal kit, it seems.

I’m planning to get myself organised enough to sell them, because with coptic stitch, the books lie flat, which makes them good for ritual books if you want them to sit flat on a table or shrine. Plus, I think it suits Kemetic ritual books well since I believe it originated in Egypt with the Copts? I get a big sense of recognition and pleasure from Sobek when I make these books, as if it’s something He recognises and takes pleasure in seeing brought to life again. It may not have been an ancient practice used in the old temples, but He seems to really like it nonetheless. It’s always good when your gods like your work, I think.

Relating to this, Sobek’s also been throwing ‘lector priest’ things at me, seeing it as the other side of a scribe’s duty when serving in the House of Life of a temple. I think He’s emphasising it more in a sense of a context in which I’m doing rituals to Them, rather than as a role He wants me to take. It may be that this is ultimately why I’m not tending open statues, because I don’t have a high priest to tend to it. It’s not part of my duties. I just read (and write) the rituals. (If the gods see fit to change this, that’s Their decision.) It reminds me that I ought to get my hands on that book about priests in ancient Egypt when I have some spare money.

(Also, knowing how to do bookbinding will enable me to refill my current BoS/journal because it has a reusable leather cover omg, which was half the reason I bought it. The damn text block in there currently is even coptic bound. I mean, really. I will never need to buy another journal ever again.)

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Feast of Sobek

Today’s a feast day for Sobek, and I was lucky enough to be able to spend some time alone in ritual with Him. It did catch me somewhat off-guard, but Sobek provided inspiration enough as to what I ought to offer for Him to feast on, and it was good to spend that time with Him together. It was nearly an hour and a half, all up, and while I won’t share the details of what happened because Mysteries, I did finally nut out what it is about visualisation that I have never quite grokked.

Y’know what the problem is? It’s the lack of words. I can do visualisation just fine when I’m writing a story in my head, but I’ve never thought of it as visualisation because it never really felt like it, or how other people do it, anyway. But that works for me. Writing a story in my head, in a form of second person, that works. I can see things that way. I can feel things that way. But I can’t if I’m just meant to be ~imagining~ things. So I’m going to try the visualisation thing again that’s part of Hekate’s new moon rite and try writing it as a story, and see if that helps it work better for me. If it does, I’ll keep working on honing that skill, and maybe I won’t be quite as shit at visualisation as I thought I was, because I can just write a story in my head, and see things that way.

All this triggered by a story I was writing for Sobek in my head as He took me to His temple at Bakhu again. A poem thing did come of it, but it’s not for sharing, so it’ll go on the private blog instead. I’ve also set up a small shrine for Nit at His insistence. There’s work there to do with Hir. Weird gender stuff. IDK. Maybe I’ll talk about it later once I’ve parsed it into something coherent and feel like it’s shareable.

(This is also me trying to get more consistent at writing up rituals and festivals that I do in a bid to have a better record of them, and to update this blog more often. We’ll see how long I stick with this before I forget.)

 

Di Wep Ronpet Nofret!

Wep Ronpet 2014

Wep Ronpet shrine for 2014. Set up under the patio.

(For you northern hemisphere types, consider this a ‘Christmas in July’ equivalent.  Wep Ronpet in February! Woo! :D)

It was a good day, actually. Nice weather, if a little windy, hence the lack of candles on the shrine. Also, apparently I cannot simply set up a shrine outside without bringing EVERYTHING with me, so. EVERYTHING came outside, and then had to be taken back inside. To be fair, this was partly because I needed to nick the shrine cloths, and that meant taking everything down. But it did give me a chance to tweak the shrine layout when I was putting it all back together.

Had the house to myself today, so that was also why I wanted to do my ritual outside. I get weird about doing ritual outside of my room when others are around. I like my privacy. And I feel like I can run around setting things up without having to explain what I’m doing. Its just easier all round. So it was nice to have the time to do that today, even though I am behind on my noumenia rites now, and will have to do them tomorrow night.

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Kemetic Round Table: Ritual Purity

This is the first in a series of posts that is part of a new Kemetic blogging project called the Kemetic Round Table that aims to provide practical, useful information for Kemetic practitioners of any stripe from beginners to more experienced practitioners. Check the link here for more information about the project, and click here to see responses to this topic from the other bloggers taking part in this project.

Ritual purity is a common thing in many religious traditions. Indeed, many Pagan ritual formats include pre-ritual purifications, and modern Kemetic practices are no different. It’s something I got used to when I became Wiccan over a decade ago, and continued doing as I wandered around as an eclectic Kemetic Pagan for a while, and then as a Kemetic Orthodox shemsu for six years. I’ve done it in many ways, using oils in bath water to herbal rinses to incense and water and salt, to the Senut purifications that are part of the Kemetic Orthodox tradition.

Ritual purity is important, and being physically and mentally clean before approaching shrine is a good thing to do regularly. It’s something I’ve had drilled into me since I became Kemetic Orthodox, and I’ve brought that with me when I left the House a couple of years ago.

There were many ancient prohibitions and purity rules that we know of today, mainly from the Temple cults. These included rules about body hair, physical cleanliness, blood, dietary, and sexual rules, as well as what to not wear, and how to dress and prepare yourself. Shadows of the Sun has done an excellent overview of historical purity rules, so I’ll point you over there, rather than repeat them here.

For those new to this blog, while I am mostly Kemetic in my practices, I practice a Graeco-Roman-Kemetic polytheistic syncetism, and what I do will not always be strictly Kemetic, nor particularly reconstructionist. Any non-Kemetic aspects to my practice will be stated as such, so no one’s confused. Not everyone wants to do syncretism like I do, but I still think it’s important to talk about how I do things, because I think even fewer syncretists talk about this sort of thing than Kemetics do.

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Sobek Research and Other Ramblings

I was doing a bit of googling last night, looking for any ancient Sobek hymns that might possibly if I’m lucky actually exist that I can base a litany around. I didn’t find any hymns, but I did find a couple of articles that talked about His Graeco-Roman cult, particularly around the Faiyyum region, as well as one article talking about Sobek, Ra, and Wesir. I even found an actualfax book on Sobek and the Faiyyum, though sadly I can’t find a copy to buy that is definitely in English rather than in Italian, and not going to cost me a lot of money I don’t have right now. (I found three for sale: one for £68 (~AU$103), one for US$150 (~AU$142), and another for US$200 (~AU$189). Sans how much I’d have to pay for shipping. *cries* I would probably buy it if I had the money, though. Just because omg an actualfax book all about Sobek omg I must have it!) I can’t even find it in any university libraries here, so I can’t even go and borrow it. 😦 (It’s too niche and academic for public libraries, so I’m not bothering to look there.)

The reference I found regarding Sobek, Ra, and Wesir, talked about Sobek-Ra being seen as something like a nighttime form of Ra, like Wesir sometimes is, and emerging from the waters at dawn is like the sun being renewed for another day. Syncretising Sobek to both Temu-Ra and Wesir I find very interesting, and I’ll be chewing on that for a while. I’d already seen some parallels in my UPG, with Sobek-Ra, and Wesir and Ra and Their duality, and I know Sobek is sometimes referenced as guarding Ra’s boat in the Duat, but I hadn’t considered Sobek being syncretised to Temu-Ra and Wesir. Perhaps Djehuty was right when He told me that Sobek is Amun is Ra is Ptah is Wesir, though I still don’t know how Ptah fits in. He’s the only God in that list I haven’t met yet.

(I am planning to add these to the History of Sobek page when I have a spare five minutes to turn them into something other than copypasted sentences and a pile of notes. Well. Everything except the Sobek book, because I can’t reference a book I haven’t read.)

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T is for Telling Stories

In some ways, I feel this is an odd thing to write about, as it isn’t something I do very often. I’m not just talking about mythology, either. I’m talking about new stories, mythological fanfiction, if you will. Because I feel it’s something I should do, in the sense of making new stories and making old stories more approachable. That, and Sobek hasn’t got a lot of mythology about Him, and I’d like to rectify that.

And now I feel really pompous for saying that, but I feel like it’s such a natural thing to do, to tell stories about the Gods to show what They’re like. That’s pretty much what mythology is.

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T is for Tools

This was going to be my second T topic, but I can’t think of anything else to write about, so I’ll do this first, and give myself some time to think of another topic that’s not as vague as ‘thinky thoughts’ or ‘transition-y things’, which is about as much as I’ve got right now. Also, I though I’d save you another post on trans* deities because all I really want to write about is Wesir and the Wild Godde, the Horned Goddess’ companion, and the ties between them and such. So that’s a W topic for later.

This also gives me time to think of another T topic, because I am all out of ideas right now, beyond a rambly post about ~transitions~ and such. I still have a P post to catch up on too, and the only reason that isn’t done either is because I also can’t think of what to write about. Too many P topics. D:

So, this post is about my ritual and magical tools. I feel like it’s a bit obvious, in some ways, but I don’t think I’ve ever really done a post like this before, ever, where I’ve kind of gone through and talked about all the tools I use. This will involve Illustrations, so be warned. 😛

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Q is for Queer Paganism

Still working on that second P post; I keep changing my mind on what to write about. But nevertheless, I have been away this weekend, and managed to get this Q entry done, so that’s something.

I hesitated in even doing this topic at all, for fear that all I’d have to say is something like, ‘YAY QUEER GODS’ and ‘I DON’T KNOW’. Because this isn’t really a Thing, at least not a Thing that can be defined with a single definition. At the same time, I feel I ought to write about it anyway, because it’s something that needs to be discussed more within Pagan circles.

At the same time, though, whatever I talk about here isn’t some definitive thing either. It’s probably just going to end up as my musings on what queer paganism means to me, and if anyone gets anything out of it, awesome. Which is my approach for all these sort of things. These are just my thoughts, nothing more. I don’t have all the answers, nor do I want to, and I feel that a thing like queer paganism is something that needs to be defined for yourself.

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